'No alternative' to UK for domestic mushroom farmers
Giant Monaghan Mushrooms looks to biotechnology and expanding British footprint to cope with Brexit effects
Irish mushroom producers have no choice but to focus on the UK despite Brexit, according to Monaghan Mushrooms vice chairman Paul Wilson.
Mr Wilson said the UK is the only realistic choice for Irish producers because of mushrooms' short shelf life.
"The UK is going to remain a very important market for Irish mushrooms in particular, we simply can't ship them anywhere else," Mr Wilson said.
"The perishable product will not allow you to bring them anywhere else, maybe northern France, but realistically we have to focus on the UK," he said at an event organised by DCU's Brexit Institute.
He added that "60pc of our revenues today come from the UK, so it's a very significant part of our business. That's a figure that's down from 90pc in 2012, thank God."
Monaghan, run by the Wilson family, keeps a low media profile but is a giant of the European mushroom industry, supplying 50pc of retail mushrooms in the UK. An unlimited business, it does not have to file public, detailed, financial accounts.
The low-margin, export-heavy mushroom industry has been battered since the Brexit vote, with the fall in the value of sterling making Irish mushrooms more expensive and putting some operators out of business.
Because fresh mushrooms have a shelf life measured in days, diversifying further afield is very difficult. That makes it one of the Irish industries most exposed to Brexit.