West Cork shellfish company launches Ireland’s first crab pate with support from BIM

A West Cork shellfish company has launched Ireland’s first crab pate following an upgrading of its factory with support of a €793,281 Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme grant, implemented by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Shellfish Ireland, based in Castletownbere, says the investment in the business will help the company develop other fish products from what was previously waste. This will increase efficiency and cut down the cost of disposal.

Shellfish Ireland CEO, Carol Harrington, said the grant has been used to purchase new equipment for processing shellfish and to upgrade cold storage facilities.

“This upgrading means we can focus on more value-added products and we are delighted to have recently launched Ireland’s first crab pate which is listed in Dunnes and Musgraves stores.” she said.

The Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme brings to over €1 million in grants Shellfish Ireland has secured through BIM since 2021.

“We are focusing very much on value added products,” said Carol. “The machines we were able to buy with the support of the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme will increase our yield from processing crab, making us more competitive on the domestic and export markets. Some of this machinery will allow us process all parts of the crab including the body, claws, legs and shell. This maximises the output of the crab and helps us mix different crab meats for various products.”

The new refrigeration system will speed up the freezing time during processing, enhancing the quality of the product as well as improving energy efficiency.

According to Carol, the investment adds value to the crab and shrimp landings in Ireland.

“All the raw material is landed into local ports around the Irish coast. The majority of the crab and shrimp purchased by Shellfish Ireland is from small to medium boats and family fishing enterprises, so we are supporting this industry in rural Ireland.”

The investment will significantly add to the efficiency of the business, as it will be able to convert what was previously waste – with a cost of disposal – into value added raw material for secondary processing into fish food.

Shellfish Ireland products are BRC Grade A certified and are available in all five major supermarket retailers. They also sell into restaurants and hotels. On the export market it sells in Europe and Asia.

Shellfish Ireland was first established in Castletownbere in 1987 by two young fishermen, Richard Murphy and Peter O’Sullivan Greene.

From small beginnings Shellfish Ireland has grown to become one of the largest employers in the area, with more than 130 people working there today. The Murphy’s are still very much involved with 95-year-old Pat Murphy – Richard’s dad – chair of the board of Shellfish Ireland. Incredibly for his age he is active in the business and chairs meetings. Richard’s son, Ryan, also works for the company, making it three generations involved.

Carol took redundancy from AIB in 2013 and a year later she was approached by Shellfish Ireland and worked initially as financial controller. She was appointed CEO in 2016 and following Peter’s retirement in 2019, GW Biggs group came on board.