Goatsbridge Trout Farm to increase production with grant aid from Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme

Ger and Mag Kirwan from Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Co Kilkenny will increase its production of value-added products with help from the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme.

The Thomastown business is one of 44 projects to share in a €26.8 million investment from the Seafood Processing Capital Support Scheme administered through BIM. The scheme, which will deliver up to €45 million in funding to the seafood processing sector, is funded by the European Union under the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.

Directors Mag and Ger Kirwan are using the €280,000 investment to improve production efficiencies of their key ranges including smoked trout, trout caviar and fish chowder.

“In recent years, we have focused on adding value to our highly sought after trout products,” said Mag Kirwan. “With costs increasing, we’re always looking at ways to be more efficient and increase capacity so we can increase sales.

“The support we’re receiving from the Brexit Processing Capital Support Scheme, and other schemes over the years, has really helped us to innovate and grow.”

The company, which employs 27 people, supplies their product to the Irish retail and hospitality markets. Wholesale also forms a large part of the business, with online sales also being developed as an outlet.

Goatsbridge Trout Farm is using the grant aid to purchase key processing equipment including an inline chiller, bowl choppers, cooking vessel and a manufacturing production system. These upgrades will ensure greater production efficiencies and increase its capacity to develop further value-added products.

It will improve its energy efficiency by upgrading existing doors that will improve temperature control in the production area. It also plans to build a blast chiller which will improve the processing of products including caviar.

“We make these upgrades because it’s the right thing to do but the grant aid certainly helps take the pressure off as it halves the payback time,” said Mag.

“It is particularly helpful to have this support in the current climate with costs rising. It’s when we’re feeling fearful that it’s time to be brave and make changes.”

Innovators in the Irish seafood industry, Mag and Ger Kirwan have run the Goatsbridge Trout Farm for almost 30 years.

In 2012, they developed Ireland’s first ever caviar – trout caviar. Caviar is salted fish roe or eggs and regarded as a delicacy. BIM food technologist John Fagan helped the husband and wife team at Goatsbridge develop this new processing method.