Eugene Kiernan of Breffni Mushrooms hands out some samples of his tasty products at the Taste of Cavan food festival in 2017. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

No winners in Brexit deal - mushroom boss

Just over a month since Britain formally parted ways with the European Union local businesses are feeling the financial repercussions of Brexit. Even with all advisable preparations in place, the impact of the new regime has been described as “one in which everyone loses out”.

Eugene Kiernan, the founder and owner of Breffni Mushrooms in Kilnaleck, says there has been a discernible change in the playing field since December 31.

“We have noticed a huge difference. The paperwork has increased by a multiple of 12, our costs have increased from £39 to £42 per pallet.”

Mr Kiernan says preparation was vital to insulate against the changes that took place.

“We are fit to cope, but we have put a lot of time and effort into being ready for December 31 when the changeover came. Fortunately we are coping.”

The Breffni Mushroom boss says Brexit was an unusual deal.

“There are no winners in this. I have never seen a deal where everyone loses out. The UK are going to suffer greatly, we are suffering greatly. There are no winners.”

Planning for the future is an important aspect of the mushroom business. Late last year Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy, raised an issue that could have implications for Irish mushroom productions. Deputy Carthy said the phasing out of peat production will have wide ranging effects.

He suggested that, if horticultural peat is not available in Ireland, then it will be “either imported from elsewhere or the mushroom industry will leave Ireland”.

Mr Kiernan says the industry is exploring alternatives.

“We haven’t experienced any difficulty at the moment. We see that the traditional way of producing mushrooms won’t exist because of the changes of availability. We are looking at changing to a different product.

“Peat is used as a water retention medium for the mushrooms. There is no nutrient input, research is going on into finding a different product. In France they did not use peat for years,” he explained.

Although Bord Na Mona has immediately ceased production, other suppliers still fill the market demands: “We are aware of the limited amount of peat left. The mushroom industry has peat available to them for the next two or three years.”

The Kilnaleck businessman says research and development is vital for staying in business.

“Peat had many benefits like being free of disease. We will now have to look at using a pasteurising process for other mediums. Ultimately it will be good for the environment, because peat cannot take us into the future.”

More from this Topic