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Niche crop experts, Beotanics, confirms significant expansion plan

24th April 2019

Niche crop experts, Beotanics, confirms significant expansion plan

Commissioner Phil Hogan, commends Beotanics’ growing European impact in providing nutritionally balanced, environmentally-friendly crops.

Beotanics, an Irish firm, with a growing international reputation for innovation in niche food crop production across the world, is investing €1 million in a new Research & Development Centre which includes a plant science laboratory, plant quarantine and 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.

Pat FitzGerald is renowned internationally for this innovation in the Horticulture sector. This investment will allow Pat and his team 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.

European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, visited Beotanics today, (Wednesday, April 24), 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 LIT, the Irish Department of Agriculture and An Bord Bia.

Commenting on the €1 million expansion investment, Commissioner Hogan said: “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.

“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 including as far away as Hawaii, Middle East, Africa, Caribbean, USA, Portugal, The Netherlands, Germany and 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,” Commissioner Hogan added.

Donald Black, Manager, Core Unit, Enterprise Ireland added: “This investment in a new Research and Development Centre demonstrates Beotanics’ highly innovative culture which has allowed the company to grow its reputation internationally in niche food production and horticultural expertise.

“At Enterprise Ireland, we know that innovation is crucial for Irish companies with global ambition to effectively compete on national and global scales. We are delighted to support Beotanics’ commitment to innovation and look forward to continuing to support the ambitious growth plans for the business.”

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 per cent 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 10 further 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, MD, Pat FitzGerald, said.

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 export. 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 plants 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,” Pat FitzGerald said.

Beotanics is passionate about sourcing and cultivating rare or forgotten crops and crop varieties that have latent potential, Mr 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,” Mr FitzGerald 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 USA Louisiana State University.

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About Beotanics

Beotanics is the brainchild of Pat FitzGerald, who is recognised internationally for his innovation in the Horticulture sector and Pat through his company Fitzgerald Nurseries has won many International Awards for his innovations in plant breeding.

Beotanics, is a spin out from FitzGerald Nurseries Ltd which was set up by Pat and his wife Noreen in 1990 to supply the ornamental shrub market. Beotanincs Plant Lab is where the company researches and produces most of its plant innovations. With over 25 years’ experience in the development of plant varieties and production systems, the company has embarked on an exciting and significant intensification of its interest in food crops.

Since its original business establishment as an alternative farm enterprise in 1990 on the 100-acre former mixed cattle, vegetable and dairy farm, the business has gone through progressive changes, adapting and evolving with market shifts and spreading its sales territory to a wider customer base.

The propagation, breeding and development of many genera of plants from plant tissue culture, cuttings, division and seed, has been core focus for FitzGerald Nurseries. Beotanics a spin out of FitzGerald Nurseries evolved brands, plant IP, and further evolved plant product development into niche food crops.

Beotanics is applying non GMO, breeding practices and an intense passion for Horticultural Innovation to minority crops such as Sweet Potato, Yacon, Oca and others. They are now being sold to growers all over the world.

Patrick FitzGerald is a leader in the development of sweet potato as a viable European crop for commercial farmers. Through his imaginative leadership, the establishment of NativaLand 50/50 joint venture in Portugal this crop is now being commercially grown in areas of Europe not previously known to grow sweet potato commercially. The company has a longer term vision to bring further viable, scalable and health giving crops to the European market over the coming years.

Through this work Beotanics aims to provide the food and beverage industry with access to a range of unique sources of plant-based ingredients. It partners with those seeking natural, transparent and fair ways to enhance the taste, appearance and nutritional value of food.