CAFRE supports new farm shop venture in Annacloy

Have you an idea for a new food business venture?

Thursday, 8th July 2021, 8:42 am
Karrane and Malachy McGrath with their son Niall and baby daughter Sarah outside their new farm shop
Karrane and Malachy McGrath with their son Niall and baby daughter Sarah outside their new farm shop

Food Technologists at the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) have been providing technical support to one new local business. 2021 is proving to be a very exciting year for Malachy and Karrane McGrath as they have just opened a new farm produce shop in Annacloy, writes Dessie Brady, Food Technologist, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise.

Malachy and Karrane McGrath have a passion for rearing Angus cattle and local breeds of lamb. Their family farm, nestling in the heart of County Down’s rolling landscape, has been producing award winning stock for generations.

The couple were in selling directly to local customers. But to do so, they required technical support in the development of their product range. They were partnered with Dessie Brady, a Food Technologist at CAFRE and the business venture started to take off from there.

Dessie Brady, Food Technologist at CAFRE, Loughry Campus

“During the initial meeting, Malachy brought with him some products for sampling. I was highly impressed with the meat quality; particularly its taste, texture and succulence,” commented Dessie Brady.

Follow up meetings were held and the couple were provided with the necessary advice to enable them to understand how best to commercialise their products, achieve a consistent high quality standard, and ensure food safety.

“The advice and support provided by staff at Loughry Campus proved invaluable to us. We were assisted in making decisions about processing and food safety. We gained the technical knowledge required to successfully make our products on a commercial scale,” commented Malachy.

Included in the support provided, was technical advice on developing new products, identifying suitable food processing equipment, validating product shelf-life and expertise on food product labelling requirements.

“I’ve been aware of the services provided by Loughry for many years. I was impressed by the level of support given to us over the course of this project.

“We are hoping to extend our range of products within the farm shop and continue to provide our produce to local shops and restaurants. Currently, we are supplying the recently refurbished hotel and restaurant, ‘The Cuan’ in Strangford,” added Malachy.

Head Chef at The Cuan, Kelan McMichael states: “We wanted to source local and McGrath Farm Produce’s home bred beef and lamb ticked all our boxes. We have complete traceability farm to fork. Their product is superb and we have received outstanding feedback from our customers.”

Malachy and Karanne are delighted by the success of their business. “Keeping up to date on our social media pages and our website to show offers and product availability is a new challenge to us. We are learning something new each week!”

When asked if you had to cook one show-stopping dinner from your produce, what would it be, Malachy replied: “that’s a tough decision, I would have to say a Tomahawk steak, with peppered sauce, cherry tomatoes and fresh cut chips” while Karanne’s choice was a “rib roast on the bone, as the meat is so tender and succulent. I would serve this our locally sourced vegetable and new season potatoes. All of which can be bought from our farm shop.”

If you would like support to grow your food product range, please get in touch with the Food Technology Team at CAFRE by emailing: [email protected] or visit

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