We speak to local producers, all passionate about their work, who offer a behind the-scenes look into the food at your local Tesco store. Their pride in making quality Irish products is obvious, as we hear about early starts, vegetables as part of the family (kind of!) and the love and care ploughed into the farms. Working with Tesco is a vital part of the process – together they ensure the food that ends up in your basket is the best it can be. It’s time to go on a food journey.
Karen Kerrigan runs Kerrigan’s Irish mushrooms with her dad, John, in Kells, Co. Meath. Established in 1981, they’ve been supplying Tesco with a range of mushrooms since 1997.
‘My role focuses on the quality and development of our mushrooms,’ says Karen.
‘I ensure they’re grown, selected, picked and packed to the highest standard, as well as working on new products and recipes.
‘We give the mushrooms the right amount of space to grow, rather than pack them into the beds, so we can produce hardy mushrooms of differing sizes. The produce is picked by highly trained staff who understand that mushrooms are as delicate as eggs.
‘The mushrooms are cooled down in fridges in the pack houses and then checked again at the packing line. Only after making sure they’re the correct weight do they get a label. There are over 30 checks in total.
‘We’re passionate about freshness, too. Our mushrooms are hand-picked (every day except for Christmas) and delivered within 24 hours from picking. To keep them fresh, they’re kept chilled until they’re put on display in store.
‘We’re always working with the Tesco buyers to improve our packaging, which could include, for instance, putting mushroom recipes on the packs. We also speak to Tesco technical manager Sarah Leonard about the sizes and quantities of mushrooms needed. She’ll also come to see how we’re growing our produce.
‘My dad, who’s an experienced grower, oversees the technical aspects, such
as ensuring the correct temperature and airflow for each stage of the mushrooms’ growth cycle. It’s a perfect match as we bring different skills to the job.
‘I live just a few minutes from our farm, with my husband Kevin and our daughter. I would love to pass the business on to her one day – though for now she’s just two!’
‘The mushrooms are kept chilled when they’re packed and stored, to preserve their freshness’
‘We carefully hand-pick and deliver our mushrooms on the same day’