Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue TD together with his colleague Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity with special responsibility for Horticulture announced the launch of two BAR funded schemes to improve efficiencies in the Irish mushroom sector.
Minister McConalogue said, “the mushroom sector provides a valuable contribution to the Irish economy with a farmgate value of approximately €130 million in 2022. I am delighted to announce these two schemes with a budget of €5 million which will support growers, packhouses and compost yards in developing efficiencies lost as a result of Brexit.”
The 2023 Scheme of Investment Aid for Energy Efficiency, Automation and Processing for Commercial Mushroom Producers and the 2023 Scheme of Investment Aid for Commercial Non-Primary Producers in the Mushroom Sector and for Peat Replacement by Commercial Mushroom Producers are designed to accelerate investment in the mushroom sector (which is directly impacted by Brexit) by providing up to 40% grant assistance to all businesses including compost yards contributing to the production of mushrooms in Ireland, towards the capital cost of specialised equipment and facilities to increase the efficiency and sustainability of mushroom growing, packing and processing.
Investments eligible for aid include:
• Renewable energy sources for mushroom farms, packhouses and processing plants.
• Automation and efficiencies in mushroom farms and packhouses.
• The infrastructure to produce mushroom-based meat free foods and powders.
The Irish mushroom sector is reliant on the UK market as an export destination for its mushrooms. Approximately 80-85% of Irish production is exported to the UK. Given the short shelf life of mushrooms and the tight margins experienced by the sector, exporting to continental Europe is not viable.
In addition, Minister McConalogue and Minister Hackett confirmed that a new tranche of BAR funding to support the promotion of mushrooms in the UK has now been secured.
Minister Hackett said, “I am also delighted to announce that that a total of €1.01million has been awarded to Bord Bia for the promotion of mushrooms in 2023 in the UK. Irish mushroom producers have experienced a challenging couple of years with the impact of Brexit, high input costs and a softening export market post Covid. This much needed investment in promotion will ensure that Irish mushrooms continue to be in UK shopping baskets and on UK plates. Irish mushrooms are a sustainable, nutritious and filling way to feed any family.”