Business

Cushendall free-range egg producer has it cracked with £300,000 investment in automation

Niall Delargy, company director at Glenballyeamon Eggs, and Conor McNeill, business development manager at Ulster Bank

A COUNTY Antrim producer and supplier of free-range eggs has invested more than £300,000 to upgrade its facilities and introduce a new line of automated equipment.

The investment by Glenballyeamon Eggs in Cushendall has led to the creation of four production jobs, bringing the company's total staff count to six full and part-time roles.

The multi award-winning free-range egg producer has traded from its current premises for the past 19 years, and its recent investment represents a commitment to expanding the company in the local area while future-proofing the business through the introduction of start-of-the-art automated equipment for grading and packing its produce.

The Ulster Bank-supported investment facilitated the purchase and integration of the Moba Prima 2000, a stainless steel egg grading and packing machine with capacity to process up to 20,000 eggs per hour.

Glenballyeamon Eggs director Niall Delargy said: "The introduction of automated systems is something that we had long considered as an important step in ensuring we are prepared for the future, but it was equally important to gradually grow the business to make investment in machinery like the Moba Prima 2000 beneficial. It has high capacity per hour and to capitalise on the investment we had to first make sure that we could run it at high capacity."

Niall grew up on the generations-old family farm rearing sheep. It was almost 20 years ago that he returned home to usher in a new era for the farm and increase egg production.

Over the past two decades Niall, with the support of his wife, also a full-time teacher, has worked tirelessly to identify new business opportunities and both have carefully nurtured Glenballyeamon Eggs to become the now award-winning company that it is, while also helping to securing the future for the next generation.

“We produce a high-quality product and there's always demand for quality-guaranteed produce. It's also estimated there will be a total ban on caged egg production by 2025, so this investment in automated equipment now as we increase our brood of free-range hens prepares us for such changes.”

The company has plans in place to engage other local farmers to produce high-quality free-range eggs that can be graded and packed through the company's automated production facility with scope for outsourced contract packing for third-party producers and packers.

Conor McNeill, business development manager at Ulster Bank, said: “Identifying openings in the market for egg production and investing in new automated kit to support high-capacity grading and packing will allow Niall and Glenballyeamon to stay ahead of the curve as ethical production and the consumer leans more and more toward free-range eggs. Ulster Bank is delighted to support the company as it prepares for the future.”

Glenballyeamon Eggs supplies a mix of customers in retail, catering and high-end eateries across the north with produce gathered from the roosting houses of its 17,000-strong brood of egg-laying hens.

In recent years it has been recognised with a range of awards for its quality produce, including Great Taste Awards and industry recognition through the Blas na hÉireann Irish Quality Food Awards.

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