Country Crest & Ballymaguire Foods
Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production
No. of Employees
Current leader generation
Michael and Gabriel Hoey enjoy a long-standing family farming heritage dating back to the establishment of their family farm in 1910. These strategic fourth-generation brothers have expanded beyond the traditional farming practices of their predecessors to answer the call of modern consumer needs. And they have done so without compromising their deeply embedded, intergenerational family values: respect for the land, environmental reciprocity, sustainable farming practices and community investment.
In 1994, the Hoey brothers established Country Crest, which initially specialized in potato growing, grading
and packaging for retailers and providing private label products for grocers’ brands. Today, Country Crest is a multi-division company that supplies potatoes and vegetables to retailers across Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
They have also expanded their product horizons with prepared foods and vegetable accompaniments through their sister company, Ballymaguire Foods. The brothers’ vision is to lead the way in viable food innovations by producing fresh and healthy prepared meals for consumers through sustainable and traceable farming practices within the “farm-to-fork” model.
Local impact through the family’s shared values
The family’s values are evident in Country Crest’s farm-to-fork model and the day-to-day operations of Ballymaguire Foods’ stated values: sustainability, teamwork, integrity and trust, quality, community, innovation and giving back.
The value system of the Hoey family and the internal operations of its businesses emphasize their commitment and duty to the community and the imperative to give back to society. The family business has invested in a wide variety of social and environmental actions that reflect a strong sense of community care, accountability and environmental reciprocity that are a reflection of the company’s name and reputation.
Sustainability is a long-held value and practice that has strengthened the legacy of the Hoey family business. Family and non-family members alike in Country Crest & Ballymaguire Foods refer to the family’s strong affinity to the land. Responding to consumer trends & increasing demands for sustainably produced foods that are packaged and transported in environmentally conscious ways, Country Crest has placed sustainability as the first priority in its business decisions.
It isn’t surprising that implementing sustainable business practices & identifying opportunities to achieve environmental reciprocity continue to be primary areas of focus & concern for the brothers.
Redefining local impact
The Hoey family’s impact and commitment to sustainable farming practices do not begin or end in their local communities, however. In the Christine Valley agricultural area of Haiti, for example, agricultural activities have declined considerably over the past 3 decades, from strong cane sugar and tomato production to basic subsistence farming. In response, the Christine Valley Model Farm project was set up by Michael Hoey in 2008 following a visit to Haiti. The aim of the 10-year project is to make substantial capital investments in farming equipment, training and skills to make Christine Valley a viable and sustainable agricultural community once again. The project covers 18 hectares of land and provides income for 40 local families in the area. It has also influenced wider communities in the region to adopt practices for the safe and sustainable production and sale of food.
Country Crest has provided considerable amounts of equipment and personnel to Christine Valley, with one company representative facilitating and overseeing the entire project. The brothers are committed to similar international efforts that are transforming farming opportunities in different parts of the world.
The Hoey family supports Halalele High School in Lesotho, for example, with the aim of educating the school’s 300 pupils about sustainable food production, food security and nutrition. In partnership with Portmarnock Community School in Dublin and the non-profit Action Ireland Trust, Country Crest has developed a gardening training program in a 10-acre field that is maintained by the school and its pupils.
Country Crest has also developed a 5- to 10-year sustainability project among a community of 2,000 farmers in the Temo Moho area of Lesotho, empowering local farmers to grow and sell certified seed potatoes for export.
Building a legacy beyond borders
Michael and Gabriel Hoey have transformed the family farm from a traditional agricultural practice to a professionalized farm-to-fork family business for modern-day Ireland. The family businesses, Country Crest and Ballymaguire Foods, are distinguished by the embedded family values that lead their business practices and the sense of care and belonging that is felt among family and non-family members alike.
Their investment in local, Irish and international communities, “mother nature” and the wider Country Crest family is evident. There is clarity around the purpose, vision and values of the family and its businesses. And, as they continue to act as stewards and guardians of the land, this is the legacy that Michael and Gabriel Hoey will pass onto the next generation of the family, the future leaders of Country Crest and Ballymaguire Foods and future the sustainable farming practices of countries well beyond the borders of Ireland.