Surge in Irish food exports as homesick emigrants stock up
Millions of bags of Tayto and other Irish crisps are being shipped to Australia every year as a new generation of emigrants stock up on the tastes of home.
Meath-based Largo Foods, which owns brands such as Tayto and Hunky Dorys, is now exporting about four times as many crisps to Oz as it had been just a few years ago.
Largo Foods founder and chief executive Ray Coyle told the Irish Independent that the company was currently shipping about four containers a month to Australia.
That works out at about 400,000 bags of crisps – or 8,000 boxes – every month.
Well over 60,000 Irish people are now permanently resident in Australia, with many of them having emigrated there within the past few years.
Eamon Eastwood, a Tyrone native who owns the successful Sydney-based Taste Ireland internet mail order business, told the Irish Independent that a range of Irish goods are selling strongly in the run-up to Christmas. The company's total sales have soared 45pc this year.
Unilever's Lyons Tea, Valeo's Erin sauces and its Jacob's biscuits brands are among those that are the hot sellers in Australia.
He said his company's online orders were up 20pc this year, with half of those orders being placed by people in Ireland for friends and relatives in Australia.
Mr Eastwood said Largo brands, including Hunky Dorys crisps, now comprise 20pc of Taste Ireland's total product portfolio.
But Mr Coyle said that while the boost to exports was welcome, sales of brands such as Tayto in Ireland were affected by higher emigration levels. He said the people who left the country – primarily in the younger age demographic – were typically among the biggest consumers of crisp products. Total exports across the company's product ranges were up about 35pc this year, while revenue was up about 3pc, he said. Sales of speciality crisps to the UK have played a significant role in boosting Largo Foods' overall export figures.
Largo is 40pc owned by German food company Intersnack, while an additional 11pc is owned by another private German investment firm.
Mr Coyle added that visitor numbers to Tayto Park, the themed attraction adjacent to the Largo Foods factory in Co Meath, was expected to reach 450,000 for 2012.