A new banana-ripening and distribution centre, owned and operated by Irish banana distributors Fyffes, has opened and commenced operations in Balbriggan, North County Dublin.
Representing an investment by Fyffes in the order of €25 million, the new centre is located in the M1 Business Park at Courtlough, immediately south of Balbriggan.
When operating at full capacity, the centre will have an output of over seven million bananas per week – approximately over 60,000 tonnes annually – all for supply to Irish retailers, wholesalers, and food providers, North and South.
Speaking to guests and officials at an event held to mark the opening of the new centre, Helge Sparsoe, chief executive officer of Fyffes, said, “The new development will have a very positive impact on Fyffes by delivering even greater productivity and strengthening its ability to service the needs of our customers.”
Describing the new plant as “a commitment to securing Fyffes’ future operations in Ireland”, Sparsoe pointed to the benefit that it will bring to the economy in North County Dublin, through employment and the number of jobs that it will sustain.
Adjacent to the M1 motorway, with convenient access to the national motorway network, the new facility was commissioned in November 2019.
Constructed on a ten-acre site, it comprises the 8,500-square-metre ripening and distribution centre and an adjacent 1,750-square-metre two-storey office and administration block, with requisite loading bays, truck and customer parking, and ancillary service areas.
Replacing the company’s former facility in Swords, it has the capacity to accommodate a staff of 120 persons at peak.
Serviced directly from Cork Port – through which most of Fyffes’ produce arrives directly into Ireland from Central and South America – the new facility will be an essential link in the Fyffes distribution chain, its primary function being to ensure that bananas are delivered to consumers at the perfect point of freshness and quality, the fruit firm noted.
Designed by Irish architects Scott Tallon Walker and built by Monaghan-based construction firm Meegan Builders, the refrigeration fit-out was provided by the Cross Group.
Constructed in line with new building regulations, the new plant is likely to be regarded as ‘one of the most sustainable buildings of its kind in Ireland’, Fyffes explained.
With the potential to use 60% less energy than the building it replaces, some of its energy will be supplied by roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, while both the office heating and cooling systems will be fed via a ground-source heat pump (GSHP), the company added.
Rainwater harvesting systems have been installed to help conserve and reduce water consumption.
According to the company, the building uses energy-efficient LED lights throughout and features generous window glazing and external brise soleil – an architectural feature – to provide passive shading and reduce overheating.
A green-roof system has been installed for growing flora and encouraging pollinators.
Other amenities include staff showers, changing facilities and drying rooms, bicycle-parking spaces, and charging points for electric vehicles.
Rich Irish Heritage
Founded in 1888 by Edward Wathen Fyffe, Fyffes is the world’s oldest fruit brand.
Steeped in a rich Irish heritage, the company has grown to become the ‘largest importer of Fairtrade-certified bananas in the world’.
Acquired in 1986 by Dundalk fruit importers McCann’s – and now part of the Japanese Sumitomo Corporation – Fyffes is a multinational brand with an annual turnover of €1.2 billion.
In addition to its new Balbriggan facility, Fyffes also has a base in Dundalk and employs over 100 people in Ireland.
Globally, the organisation employs over 10,000 people and has offices in 12 countries.