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Niche crop producer Beotanics invests €1m into expansion plan

Pat FitzGerald, founder and CEO of Beotanics, pictured at Beotanics, Co Kilkenny. Photo: Dylan Vaughan.

The €1m investment will lead to a new Research and Development Centre, which includes a plant science laboratory, plant quarantine, and R&D greenhouse.



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3 May 2019

Beotanics, an Irish firm, with a growing international reputation for innovation in niche food crop production across the world, is investing €1m in a new Research and Development (R&D) Centre which includes a plant science laboratory, plant quarantine, and an R&D greenhouse at its headquarters in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny.

Beotanics is an AgTech spinout from an innovative alternative farm enterprise set up in 1990, and has become a European leader in the development of niche food crops such as Sweet Potato, Yacon, and Wasabi.

Beotanics has developed extensive growing facilities and covers a wide range of plant science and production capabilities.

This investment will allow Pat FitzGerald, founder and CEO of Beotanics, and his team to scale up their ground-breaking work on a further series of crops by applying traditional breeding practices, and by leveraging international breeder collaborations, which has been a key part of their success to date.

Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, visited Beotanics to meet with owners, Pat and Nóirín FitzGerald, and their 43-strong Irish team, and announce the expansion plans. The expansion and growth to-date is supported by Enterprise Ireland, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership, and Kilkenny Local Enterprise Office (LEO).

Beotanics is also working closely with technical, phytosanitary regulation, and marketing support from Teagasc; Shannon ABC, at Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT); the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM); and Bord Bia.

“Beotanics is now a key Irish player on the international stage in discovering new ways to feed the planet, improve human health, balance resources, enhance biodiversity, and reduce the environmental impact of crop production. It is a true example of a firm which is acting local and thinking global, and by doing so, providing locally innovative, viable, and sustainable rural development alternatives. It is growing the Irish rural economy on the strength of Irish environmental factors.”, said Commissioner Hogan.

Commissioner Hogan continued: “The Beotanics passion for horticultural innovation shines through. Beotanics is now working with, and visiting, an ever-increasing number of growers and farmers, not just in Ireland, [but] including as far away as Hawaii, Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, USA, Portugal, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and other European countries.

“Their work showcases Ireland and Europe as a leading global innovator in producing crops in a natural, transparent, and fair way, to enhance taste, appearance, and nutritional value”.

The Beotanics team already includes PhD, masters and plant science experts, research scientists, and agronomists spread across Kilkenny and Wexford. Beotanics also has a 50% joint venture sweet potato farm operation, NativaLand, which is based in Portugal. It employs agronomists and support staff across a 25-hectare, intensive sweet potato plant production operation.

The Kilkenny expansion is expected to lead to over a further 10 jobs within the firm at its Stoneyford headquarters, with downstream part-time contracted staff, and other spin off rural employment created in the coming few years, said FitzGerald.

Beotanics works with a significant grower network and is further reaching out to the food and beverage industry, ingredients companies, integrated food companies, and the life science industry with the new investment. 97% of all of its sales are exports. The family group has developed a solid base from which to further grow an ambitious, rural-based company as an international niche player in the plant based food sector.

“We want to be the go-to experts for our chosen crops and targeted evolving food ingredients and new variety development with added nutrition and bio-actives. The future of food is readjusting to become more plant-based. We’ve specialised in plant production development for over 25 years and this is a necessary natural progression for the business.

“Everything we do comes from a social need. We’re pro-balance. We want to bring more complimentary options into the food chain that are vegetable and plant based, and widen the Irish and European opportunity in crop production rotations.

“Our plant science, agronomy, and food teams collaborate to harness and optimise what nature offers, and deliver and support it in the best possible way. Our own and our international network of plant scientists are discovering and developing plant varieties with exceptional ingredients potential; then working with growers and farmers for local adaptation.

“Our food scientists will add further to what we do by optimising that plant’s natural potential into high-value food ingredients. Each and every part of the team is growing the Beotanics name for providing game-changing fresh produce, and clean ingredients solutions for a global market.”, FitzGerald said.

Beotanics is passionate about sourcing and cultivating rare or forgotten crops and crop varieties that have latent potential, FitzGerald added. “We use meticulous cultivation and selection practices to develop winning cultivars of plants which are category leaders not only in terms of yield, but also nutrition and functionality. At Beotanics, our ethos is to ensure that the nutritional and bioactive quality of our products is never compromised.”, he said.

Beotanics works hand in hand with organisations in Ireland and abroad, among these, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland, UCC, UCD, TCD, and Shannon ABC at Limerick IT, as well as in the US with Louisiana State University.

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