Michigan State University Visit
May 19, 2017
Today we hosted agricultural and horticultural students from Michigan State University who are visiting Northern Ireland on an exchange with CAFRE Loughry College. They visited our packhouse to see how vegetables are handled and also received a tour of our Anaerobic Digester
Gilfresh Host Invest NI Delegation
May 12, 2017
Today, Gilfresh hosted a delegation from Algeria & Ukraine. The visit was organised by Invest NI
Gilfresh Receive Support for Growth
April 20, 2017
Gilfresh Produce has received support from Invest NI under the European Union’s Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme. The project, recorded on the ERDF beneficiaries’ website, will be implemented over the next year, undertaking research and development activities aimed at improving the competitiveness of the business.
Young people get a ‘QuickStart’ into business
March 23, 2017
The QuickStart Programme, supported by Ulster Bank, sees Year 9 students develop a marketable product and business plan under the guidance of a Young Enterprise volunteer business adviser over the course of 8-10 weeks. The company will then produce and have the opportunity to sell their wares at specially organised Young Enterprise Trade Fairs across Northern Ireland.
Young Enterprise NI brings together companies and classrooms, encouraging students to be creative and begin to develop entrepreneurial qualities at a young age. We are delighted that Gilfresh Produce are supporting this programme this year within Killicomaine Junior High School. Gilfresh Produce is a great local success story, expanding from a small family business in Loughgall to a leading vegetable packer across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Thomas Gilpin, Owner of Gilfresh commented: “It is our pleasure to be part of the Young Enterprise Programme at Killicomaine. I started in a small 4 acre farm in Portadown, and my first machine was a modified cement mixer which was used for washing carrots! Gilfresh has since grown to have over 130 staff in a purpose built pack-house and high care processing facility. I feel it is really important to develop the same entrepreneurial spirit in our local young people. We hope to be able to inspire them with the vital skills, confidence and ambition to succeed both in life and whatever career they choose.”
Carol Fitzsimons MBE, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise commented: “We are delighted to partner with Ulster Bank on our QuickStart Programme. QuickStart is a fantastic way for the students to gain first-hand experience of how business works while developing their entrepreneurship and employability skills. I look forward to seeing what the young people come up with.”
Young Enterprise NI is a charity and is principally funded by the Department of Education. For more information, including volunteering and fundraising opportunities please visit www.yeni.co.uk.
Lord Mayor Welcomes Farming Life Award Winners to a Civic Reception at the Palace
February 3, 2017
The Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Garath Keating hosted a civic reception for the People/Companies within the Borough who won awards at the Farming Life and Danske Bank Awards 2016. This included Mr Thomas Gilpin who won ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ and his company Gilfresh Produce who won ‘Agri-Food Business of the Year 2016’.
Growth and Innovation Help Cultivate our Agri-food Sector
November 30, 2016
The wind turbine was erected in 2017 in a turnkey project managed by Bettink Service Team Ltd and joins an Anaerobic Digester which Thomas installed in 2015.
We, at Gilfresh, want to produce renewable energy for the future’, Thomas said. ‘It is not only the aim to sell vegetables for a healthy lifestyle, but we also think about how we can contribute to a healthy environment. We really believe in the force of renewable energy and with this type of energy we can definitely fulfil this goal.’ Gilfresh is one of the companies in Northern Ireland that not only talks about renewable energy, but also invest in it.
Speaking from Gilfresh Produce, Simon Hamilton said: “Gilfresh Produce is a great local success story, expanding from a small family business in Loughgall to a leading vegetable packer across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s forward thinking and innovative approach to business has helped to deliver this success and I was particularly impressed by the anaerobic digestion plant which uses waste vegetables to provide power to run the business.
“Gilfresh’s continued innovation and commitment to growth and quality resulted in the business winning the Northern Ireland’s Agri-food Business of the Year at the 2016 Farming Life / Danske Bank Awards and I would like to congratulate owner Thomas Gilpin on receiving the much deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Gilfresh Win at Farming Life/Danske Bank Awards
November 3, 2016
Farmer and businessman Thomas Gilpin was given a standing ovation as he collected the Lifetime Achievement Award at a top farming competition last week. Mr Gilpin, founder of Loughgall-based Gilfresh Produce, grew up on a farm in Portadown and started his career in 1965 with a 4.5 acre field, growing vegetables for supply to small shops.
Gilfresh Produce now has a turnover of £18 million and manages the growing of more than 2,500 acres of root vegetables, salad crops and brassica vegetables. It has a team of 130 people and 40 Gilfresh growers.
At the Farming Life Danske Bank Awards, held last Thursday at the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast, Mr Gilpin took the top accolade for his commitment to the arable industry. The company also took the Agri-Food Business of the Year prize.
The audience rose to its feet as Mr Gilpin was presented with the award by Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Michelle McIlveen. First Minister Arlene Foster and Angus Wilson, of Wilson Potatoes, filmed a glowing tribute to Mr Gilpin, summing up his contribution to the industry.
The audience at the awards heard how it was Mr Gilpin’s wealth of experience and innovative ideas which enabled him to grow the business from the small operation to the significant local employer it is today. MLA William Irwin said, “I have known Thomas for many years and he is a very hard working and dedicated individual who has devoted a lot of time and effort to his business and built it into a very successful enterprise. “In my own constituency his company Gilfresh Produce is a very valued local employer and his entrepreneurial skills have contributed to economic stability in the area. “It is also another great achievement that the company was awarded Agri-food Business of the Year at the ceremony. This of course is testimony to the effort put in by Thomas and all his hard working team.”
Thomas Gilpin said: “It’s a tremendous honour to be recognised as an outstanding Northern Ireland business and also to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Both are great recognition of the hard work of all at Gilfresh and the growers who supply superb products.”
Gilfresh Takes Back the Power
July 8, 2016
The company has installed an anaerobic digester which will see 120 tonnes per week of waste vegetables being used to generate enough energy to power the factory. All excess energy will be sold back to the grid.
Gilfresh Produce is a family run company based in Loughgall in County Armagh, established by the Gilpin Family over 50 years ago. In the beginning the family grew cabbages and scallions for the Belfast market. Now in its third generation, the business employs 130 staff, manages the growing of over 2,500 acres of field vegetables and salad crops and supplies all major supermarket chains.
The anaerobic digester will allow the business to be self-sufficient energy producers at a time when rising costs are putting pressure on companies across Northern Ireland.
William Gilpin, partner at Gilfresh Produce said: “Four years ago we realised that we could utilise our waste products in a more efficient way. At that point we were selling waste vegetables to farmers for feed at a very low margin. The business was facing several pressures including increasing energy costs, poor weather and challenging trading conditions. We travelled to a few sites in Europe to see how anaerobic digesters could work for us and we saw that it would complement and enhance our business operations.”
“It has taken a lot of planning but we are finally at the stage where the system is up and running and producing electricity. We have one full time employee who is in charge of the digester, which sits in a three acre field beside our factory.”
Mr Gilpin continued: “Our core business banking is with Danske Bank and when we approached them about our idea for this system they were very keen to help. We were concerned that we would need to look at an external investor with higher interest rates, however Danske presented us with an excellent proposal to support our business in its plans for the future.”
Richard Stack, corporate banking manager at Danske Bank said: “Gilfresh is a very innovative business and the Gilpin family are continuously seeking improvements and solutions which will make their operations more efficient and sustainable. They are one of only a handful of companies to install an anaerobic digester in Northern Ireland.
“Their efforts were recognised recently at Balmoral Show when William won the Marks and Spencer Young Producer of the Year award. The company also picked up the Tomorrow Matters Award at the Henderson Wholesale Local Supplier of the Year awards for their outstanding contribution to CSR.”
Mr Stack added: “We understand that rising energy costs are presenting a significant threat to many agricultural businesses in the region and we have been pleased to support Gilfresh with an investment to address this issue head on.”
William Gilpin wins in M&S Young Producer Awards
May 19, 2016
Four local producers for Marks & Spencer have been rewarded for their excellence in farming at a M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ Awards presentation, which took place at the Balmoral Show.
The winners were:
· Innovation Award – Tom Forgrave from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim
· Outstanding Producer Award – Larry Nugent from Tassagh , Co. Armagh
· Contribution to Rural Communities Award (Prince’s Trust Countryside Fund) – Crosby Cleland from Saintfield, Co. Down
· Young Producer Award – William Gilpin from Loughgall, Co. Armagh
Gilfresh Produce was established more than 50 years ago by the Gilpin family. Initially the business grew and packed whole head vegetables for local markets but, over the years, the business has been developed to supply multiple retailers and food service providers. Currently, the business produces loose and retail-packed carrots and other vegetables for use as ingredients by Avondale for M&S.
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S said: “The Farming for the Future awards are now in their ninth year, acknowledging the dedication and commitment our farmers and growers are making towards Plan A and sharing best practice amongst the agricultural community across Ireland and the UK.”
“We have four very worthy winners and they have proved this by demonstrating their innovative thinking, commercial success and social responsibility in the way they manage and execute their businesses.”
Judges were particularly impressed with William’s can-do attitude, Strategic planning and delivery and attention to staff empowerment and commitment to staff development.
Gilfresh Recognised at Henderson Supplier Awards
Gilfresh Produce has won a top award at the Henderson Wholesale Local Supplier of the Year awards announced during a special ceremony at the Balmoral Show.
Gilfresh, based in Loughgall, Co. Armagh grows root veg and has been supplying swedes, sweethearts, carrots, parsnips, leeks, kale and cauliflower to the Henderson Group since September 2015. The company picked up the Tomorrow Matters Award which recognises their outstanding contribution to CSR.
As a progressive family business, CSR is at the heart of everything Gilfresh does. From caring for their own staff, reaching out in their local communities and ensuring charitable giving throughout the year, to building the most energy efficient infrastructures on their land.
Last year, the company completed the building of an Anaerobic Digester Plant; this structure will process 7,500 tonnes of waste vegetables, combined with grass and maize, which will be used to generate gas, which is then turned into electricity. This will produce around 4million FW per year and will be used to power the entire business.
Gilfresh is also mindful of water consumption, and has a mechanism in place which ensures waste water from their washing plant and pack house is linked to spray guns which pump water to approx. 45 acres of land surrounding the factory. This water is filtered through limestone rock, with the clean water naturally fed back to a bore hole where it is available for use once again by the factory.
Freda Magill, Chairperson of the UFU’s Rural Affairs Committee and member of the independent judging panel for the awards, attended the ceremony and presented William Gilpin from Gilfresh Produce with the award. Also in attendance was Steven Millar, Head of Agri-Food Support Services within the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA) who spoke of the importance of growing our local agri-food industry.
Now in their fourth year, the prestigious awards scheme allows the Henderson Group, who owns the SPAR and EUROSPAR franchises in Northern Ireland to recognise the outstanding efforts of local supply companies their Wholesale business is developing fresh and ambient ranges with.
Joining Freda Magill on the judging panel this year, were some of the most respected names in agri-food and business including agri-journalist Richard Wright, Head of Food Technology Development at CAFRE, Joy Alexander and Ulster Business editor, David Elliott.
Neal Kelly, Fresh Foods Director at Henderson Group said; “We had an outstanding level of entries for the fourth year of our awards and we’re hugely grateful to both our local suppliers and panel of judges for embracing this initiative each year.
“Gilfresh Produce demonstrated a high level of commitment to bettering the communities where they work which has allowed them to go forward and win the Tomorrow Matters award. They are entirely supportive of our own Passionate about Local messaging and we are confident our relationship will only grow stronger to create even better services for our stores and shoppers.