Kavanagh Meats Ltd based on the Old Dublin Road in Enniscorthy originated in the 1970’s when James Kavanagh offered a service for local farmers to slaughter cattle and sheep for their own consumption. In the early 1990’s, James’ two sons, Garret & Bill joined the business and since then it has evolved primarily as a red meat wholesale company – supplying retail outlets from Dublin to Cork. The company also export to the UK, Italy and France.
For economic reasons in the aftermath of the BSE crisis, the company ceased slaughtering on site in 2006 and subsequently operated a boning plant, de-boning cattle and sheep to supply to butcher shops, wholesale markets and the catering trade. In recent years, the company missed out on the strong profitability associated with the slaughtering side of the meat business. This was due to returns from what is known in the industry as the 5th quarter. This is the quarter of the animal that is disposed of before the carcase is weighed and includes the hide, liver, heart, tongue, tail, kidneys, lungs, cheek meat, lip meat, fat, tripe, thick skirt, thin skirt and feet. The value of each of these products has increased significantly in recent years due to increasing demand from emerging economies, most notably China, but also an increase in demand for beef products worldwide. Such increased demand for beef has been identified by the Department of Agriculture in the recent Food Harvest 2020 Report.
When the company approached Tom Bermingham of Wexford Local development (WLD) in late 2012, they were acutely aware that the lack of their own slaughtering facility was inhibiting their overall profitability and marketability. They required significant investment to upgrade the existing slaughter facility to EU approved standards in order to re-commence slaughtering. Under the guidance of WLD, the proposed works were agreed and quotations for the works secured through the e-tender procurement process. Grant aid of almost €150,000 through the LEADER programme 2007-2013 was approved by WLD for upgrade works to include cooling and freezing units as well as the supply & installation of beef and sheep abattoir equipment and associated computerised management systems.
The works were completed by specialised contractors and slaughtering of cattle and sheep recommenced in November 2013. In June 2013 prior to commencing this project, there were 20 full time job equivalents at Kavanagh Meats, on completion of the project in May 2014, this number has increased to 34. This additional much needed employment is a welcome boost for the local economy.
In addition, securing the future of a small local indigenous company that provides competition for farmers when selling their cattle and sheep impacts positively on farmers in the region. The company now has a significant competitive advantage in being able to provide customers with fully integrated traceability from farm to table. The return of the provision of a home freezer service to farmers to kill their own cattle and sheep for their own personal use is also welcomed in the area.
The company acknowledge that the project would not have been possible without LEADER grant aid. Wexford Local Development are delighted to be associated with this good news story which is a fine example of good use of LEADER funding for job creation in Co Wexford.