Hygeia Ltd, trading out of Galway in the west of Ireland, spoke to the Irish Farmers Journal about trading at the coalface of Brexit. For Hygeia it means more regulation, more paperwork and long delays on imports and exports.

Sheep dip is a big product for Hygeia. The company has invested for a long time in this space and is a market leader in summer and winter sheep dips for ectoparasite control. Garden care and plant protection is also a growth area for the company in Northern Ireland and the UK.

Hygeia CEO John Byrne said: “Brexit is probably our most immediate challenge as we trade daily with the UK. We source chemical active ingredients in the UK from our partners so while UK sales are important, the Irish market is core and if we can’t get actives then the knock-on Brexit impact could be much bigger on our business.”

This dependence on chemical actives prompted Hygeia to research other markets and its new Nature Safe range is ticking a lot of boxes for Irish gardeners who don’t want to use chemicals at all anymore, irrespective of regulation and protocols.

Byrne said: “Garden care is a very interesting area moving at pace, evolving quickly and what was acceptable 10 years ago with chemical safe formulations has moved quite quickly through reduced usage and now households prefer to use less or no chemicals.

“So as a business we had to recognise that and adjust to the changing environment. We launched Nature Safe in 2019 and it’s a 100% organic, non-chemcial, wildlife and pet-safe product.”

The raw material for Nature Safe is seaweed harvested down the road from Hygeia headquarters at Spiddal. It’s fair to say the EU, not Brexit, was driving increased regulation, but Byrne said that’s only one hurdle and every company working in that space then has to evolve and invest to be successful.