Northway Mushrooms's £25m investment set to create 20 new jobs
A Co Tyrone mushroom enterprise has opened a new facility, creating 20 new jobs in a £25m Brexit-proofing investment.
Northway Mushrooms, a producer organisation representing 20 mushroom businesses from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, opened the facility near Ballygawley, Co Tyrone with support from First Trust Bank.
It is the first 'phase three' substrate site of its kind in the UK and guarantees that growers have a "consistent, high-quality supply" of substrate to improve yields and produce a "quality" mushroom.
A mushroom substrate is any substance on which mycelium - a thread-like collection of cells that is the vegetative growth of a fungus - will grow.
The fully enclosed facility also houses advanced technology that neutralises odours from the compost-making process.
Northway Mushrooms chief executive Elaine Shaw said that the substrate produced is of the "highest quality, allowing growers to maximise yields and improve their competitiveness".
"Many growers have already seen an increase in yield, allowing them to overcome issues brought about during difficult trading conditions, such as international currency fluctuations," she added.
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"The facility is truly a game-changer for our local mushroom industry and gives Northway members more control over their supply chain, cushioning us against Brexit headwinds while providing us with the opportunity to fill the demand for quality UK/Irish produce.
"The support from our members, the wider agri and food manufacturing industry, and our funding partner, First Trust Bank, on this project has been fantastic," Ms Shaw added.
"It takes knowledge-sharing across sectors to innovate and through this facility, we've managed to shorten the supply chain and give our growers a solid foundation from which to grow further."
Adrian Moynihan, head of First Trust Bank, welcomed the investment and said it set an example for other businesses.
He said: "Collaboration has been the cornerstone of Northway Mushrooms' success.
"Working with its members north and south, they identified an opportunity for growth and worked with industry experts and local stakeholders to bring this unique facility to fruition.
"We were impressed by Northway's innovative approach to planning, problem-solving and funding which, combined with our knowledge of the sector and financial services, helped ensure the successful delivery of this world-class facility."
Established in 2000, Northway Mushrooms aims to help members "achieve and maintain a competitive edge" through support measures that help reduce costs, maximise yield, improve product quality and simplify the route to market.