SHORT DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
In 1983, Margaret married her husband, Leo, and they moved to a 16-hectare dairy farm with 10 cows in Mullagh, on the border of Cavan and Meath, Ireland. Having worked in a bank, it did not take long for Margaret to realise that the income from the dairy farm would not make ends meet, so she looked around to see what could be done. Margaret realised that farming families kept few hens and so, since then, Margaret has been investing in this sector.
In 1987, Margaret began a pioneer investment in Ireland, buying 150 freerange laying hens and supplying a local packer. Nowadays, Margaret has 150 hectares of land, 168,000 free-range hens and her turnover stands at €6.2 million. The product is presented on Irish supermarket shelves in coloured packaging, which sets the O’Eggs apart – the ‘O’ stands for outdoor. 5 cents from each pack of O’Eggs goes to a cancer charity. Margaret also bet on Megga eggs, free-range eggs that are naturally enriched with omega 3, selenium and vitamin E via the hen’s diet. In 2009, Margaret identified another niche market, i.e. white eggs, and so invested in white hens. Three years later, in 2012, Margaret solved the problem of unsaleable very small and very large eggs by introducing pasteurised egg products and she now supplies bottled eggs to most of Ireland’s main supermarket chains. The company employs 33 full and part-time staff and Margaret works with 22 farmers who complete a poultry educational programme, including a programme with the University of Scotland. Margaret has also set up a research and development department for innovative products. This year, Margaret has already invested €8 million in production facilities. Because sustainability is key for Margaret, she developed the Origin Green Programme within the Irish food board and encourages people to visit her farm to see how transparent the procedures are for themselves. All of Margaret’s products and ideas are promoted via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and she recounts her inspiring tale of entrepreneurship and innovation on television programmes too. Margaret also participates in a national TV programme, “The Secret Millionaire”.