Irish potato crisps producer announces new plant to keep up with soaring demand

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Keogh's potato crisps can be found in the snack aisles of some of the world's largest airlines. Pic: Keogh's
Keogh's potato crisps can be found in the snack aisles of some of the world's largest airlines. Pic: Keogh's

Related tags Keogh's potato crisps Farmer Export Ireland Snacks Popcorn

North Dublin-based Keogh’s has earmarked €10m to construct a new greenfield production facility that will see 18 million potatoes face the slicer each year before finding their way onto the snack aisles of some of the biggest airline operators.

To meet the rising demand for its snacks, MD Tom Keogh said the company has allocated up to €10m to build a state-of-the-art plant next year, which is on top of a recent €3m investment to double production capacity at its current facility.

In fact, Keogh said the company is set to top last year’s record revenue as sales continue to rise.

Chicken or beef?

The 200-year-old family farm launched its artisan chip range in 2011, and to-date, is the only business in the world to market both potatoes and crisps under one brand.

Keogh's graphic

Keogh's is on a mission to exchange knowledge and skills with potato farmers in less advantageous situations, as per its ethos: ‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; but teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime. So, why not the humble potato?’

In collaboration with Irish development agency Vita, it has helped to establish potato cultivation in Southern Ethiopia – providing fresh water, tools and the methods it has honed over 200 years. Vita’s carbon reduction programme has also enabled the family business to offset its carbon emissions while bettering the lives of many Ethiopian families at the same time.

With an emphasis on small-batch production, high standards and strong flavours, its portfolio features diverse offerings like Chorizo & Cherry Tomato, Roast Turkey with Secret Stuffing and Guinness with Oyster, limited edition snacks (such as Cashel Blue Cheese & Caramelised Onion and Truffle & Real Irish Butter) and Crispy Bits (the crunchy pieces and extra seasoning typically found at the bottom of a crisp packet), along with popcorn.

The company’s export market and airline business made a strong recovery after COVID shutdowns, said Keogh.

Its main market is its home turf (accounting for a 12% share of the Irish market), but a quarter of its revenue comes from exports. Its snacks are reaching global audiences, being a strong feature on the snack trolleys of Ryanair, Singapore Airlines, Aer Lingus, Lufthansa and Emirates.

According to Keogh, the company’s airline business vanished overnight, thanks to COVID, but is now back to pre-pandemic levels, “which we didn’t forecast.”

Strong local support

Keogh added, “The Irish consumer really supported Irish brands during the pandemic and we are still enjoying that increase in popularity.”

However, he told the media he expects exports to surge over 33% over the next couple of years.

The US export market was ‘the standout performer’, with revenues almost doubling, offsetting the dramatic increase in transport costs.

For the 12 months to the end of March 2022, Keogh’s recorded post-tax profits of €118,405, up 14% from €113,408 for the year prior. At the end of March 2022, the company was sitting on accumulated profits of €1.46m to March 2022, while cash funds increased from €849,772 to €1.06m.

In this inflationary environment, Keogh’s is reviewing the retail price of its products, its first price increase in the past six years.

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