Tesco and McCann Orchards sign new €2.5m two-year deal
‘Modern Orchard’ partnership delivers sustainable homegrown Gala and Golden Delicious apples and Conference pears exclusively to Tesco stores across Ireland
25 October 2022
In a new two-year deal, worth €2.5m, Tesco has partnered with established orchard growers, the McCann family from County Armagh, and will be its anchor customer for the innovative new 130-acre Tullyallen ‘modern orchard’, based in the Boyne Valley near the Louth-Meath border.
The move will see previously international varieties of apples and pears, grown and sourced in the first ‘modern orchard’ in Ireland.
Over 100,000 trees have been planted and novel new fruit growing techniques deployed to cultivate popular modern varieties of apples and pears – including Gala and Golden Delicious apples, Conference and QTee pears. This is the first ‘modern orchard’ to grow these varieties commercially in Ireland, having previously been imported.
The ‘modern orchard’ initiative provides Tesco customers with home-grown varieties of their most favoured apple and pear varieties for the first time, throughout the autumn and winter months, in line with the Northern hemisphere season.
Tullyallen Orchard is unique in that it comprises c1,300 trees per acre compared to a traditional orchard in Ireland with just 200-350 trees per acre. Each tree is planted being supported by wooden posts and a three-tier wire system in order to safely carry the fruit load when in full crop during the growing season.
In line with the world’s ever changing climate, McCann Orchard has installed a drip feed irrigation system throughout the ‘modern orchard’ to ensure water supply to the trees throughout the season and when in strong demand during the summer months of growth.
Three and a half million home grown apples and pears will make their way onto Tesco shelves over the coming weeks and months, with production expected to triple to c. 11 million by the end of 2024. Insight from McCann Orchards suggests that when the Orchard reaches full production, it will mean a projected reduction of 110 HGV road journeys or 135,000 miles annually coming from mainland Europe, eliminating 197,000kgs of C02 annually*.
“As we celebrate 25 years in Ireland, it’s exciting to announce new innovation with one of our long-standing suppliers, McCann Orchards,” said John Brennan, fresh category director, from Tesco Ireland.
“This is a positive development for Tesco as we seek new more sustainable ways to deliver for the customer,” Brennan added. “The ‘modern orchard’ model is a great example of being able to successfully transition to home-grown versions of our much-loved apple and pear varieties.
“The innovative growing technique adopted by the McCann family means we can reduce our reliance on imported produce, resulting in less air miles and carbon emissions over the coming years, and most importantly we are once again bolstering our support for quality Irish food suppliers. It’s a win-win for all concerned and we are very excited to introduce this new quality product for our customers.”
“We are delighted to extend our 25-year long partnership with Tesco Ireland and with such an exciting commitment of support to our ‘modern orchard’,” added Oliver McCann, MD, McCann Orchard.
“The strength of our relationship with Tesco has helped us move this project forward and give us the confidence to invest in new and innovative ways to grow and harvest our produce,” McCann said.
In 2021, Bord Bia commissioned a trade and consumer research project, ‘Building A Better Future For Irish Apples’, to assist industry stakeholders on how best to maximise the opportunity for locally grown, sustainable apples in Ireland.
The results of this award-winning project formed a significant part of the Irish Apple Development Group’s ambition to develop the local industry and included focus groups, in home placement of several different types of apples, and stakeholder interviews with growers, consolidators, retailers and distributors. Results revealed that seasonality and sustainability remain a key driver for consumers, representing significant growth opportunities for Irish grown apples.
“At the heart of our market research project was an ambition to help grow the opportunities for Irish apples in the Ireland retail market and the launch of McCann’s Boyne valley based orchard is a wonderful example of seeing our market recommendations come to life,” said Lorcan Bourke, Bord Bia, sector manager, Fresh Produce and Potatoes.