Producing Eco-Conscious Potatoes and Crisps

13 August 2018

Today, we feature Tom Keogh, Founder and Managing Director at Keogh’s, a successful potato-growing and crisp business based in north Dublin, about its collaboration with Vita, a development agency working in the Horn of Africa to fight hunger and the effects of climate change.


What is the background to your work with Vita?

Vita is the only Irish not-for-profit overseas development agency that delivers a platform for Irish companies to offset their carbon footprint via its high-impact, climate-mitigating programmes in Africa. Having heard about Vita’s work in Ethiopia, I travelled there last year to see for myself the impact of their work and take a look at addressing any issues in relation to potato cultivation and market development for the region.


Why did Keogh’s choose this project to be involved with?

We partnered with Vita and other industry experts to write a three-year development plan that underpins our commitment to the region. Originally, our work with Vita was to be purely about knowledge transfer, helping to empower communities to produce better potato crops and become self-sustainable. However, Vita’s carbon reduction programme has enabled our family business to offset our carbon emissions while bettering the lives of many Ethiopian families at the same time.


What impacts have been made so far?

Sharing potato farming know-how enables farmers to increase their potato yield up to threefold, as well as aid in the eradication of disease and pests. It also involves the introduction of resilient seed potatoes suitable for erratic weather conditions resulting from climate change.

Community co-ops are developed to facilitate storage, secure better prices and collectively manage seasonal food gaps. We provide advice on packaging, creating a brand and growing a business. All of this allows Keogh’s Farm to offset its carbon emissions – it’s simply a win-win for our business.


How does Origin Green benefit your business?

Our commitment to Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme is completely in line with our own sustainability strategy and helps facilitate our business to operate in the most sustainable way possible. Origin Green certification helps us to focus on three main pillars: raw material sourcing, the manufacturing process and social sustainability. This has resulted in the introduction of greater efficiencies as well as reduced costs.

Supermarkets and foodservice operators now demand that their suppliers have clear sustainable strategies to help them reach their own sustainable targets, creating a positive domino effect across the Irish food sector. This gives us a unique point of difference against our competitors.


What does sustainability mean to Keogh’s?

Sustainability is absolutely key to the growth of our business. Keogh’s Farm was Carbon Neutral accredited in May 2018, this year, meaning carbon emissions are tracked from the field right through to the crisping house, with the support of the Vita/CO2 balance auditing programme.

Being carbon neutral means we are now producing eco-conscious spuds and crisps. This programme is not just for potato farmers – the Vita programme works with all types of Irish businesses to offset their carbon. There is a great opportunity for others to get involved.

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