Tesco and McCann Orchards partnership brings Irish apples and pears to the table
‘Modern Orchard’ partnership delivers sustainable home-grown ‘gala’ and ‘golden delicious’ apples and ‘conference’ pears exclusively to Tesco stores across Ireland
Tesco Ireland today announces a new and novel ‘modern orchard’ partnership which sees previously international varieties of apples and pears, grown and sourced in the first ‘modern orchard’ in Ireland.
In a new 2-year deal worth €2.5 million, 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.
Over 100,000 trees have been planted, and novel new fruit-growing techniques have been deployed to cultivate popular modern varieties of apples and pears, including gala and golden delicious apples, conference apples, 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 favorite 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 1,300 trees per acre, compared to a traditional orchard in Ireland with just 200–350 trees per acre. Each tree is planted, supported by wooden posts and a 3-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.
3.5 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 197,000 kg of C02 annually*.
John Brennan, Fresh Category Director, from Tesco Ireland, said: “As we celebrate 25 years in Ireland, it’s exciting to announce new innovation with one of our long-standing suppliers, McCann Orchards. This is a positive development for Tesco as we seek new, more sustainable ways to deliver for the customer. 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 fewer 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.”
Oliver McCann, MD, McCann Orchard, added: “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’. The strength of our relationship with Tesco has helped us move this project forward and given us the confidence to invest in new and innovative ways to grow and harvest our produce. We’re looking forward to delivering these tasty apples and pears to Tesco customers.”
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 maximize 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, home placement of several different types of apples, and stakeholder interviews with growers, consolidators, retailers, and distributors. Results revealed that seasonality and sustainability remain key drivers for consumers, representing significant growth opportunities for Irish-grown apples.
Lorcan Bourke, Bord Bia, Sector Manager, Fresh Produce and Potatoes, said: “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. At Bord Bia, through initiatives including our Sustainable Horticulture Assurance Scheme, we are committed to working closely with our partners and stakeholders in the supply chain to support the continuous sustainable development of the sector”.
Modern orchard pears and apples are available in stores and online via Tesco.ie now.