The lure of dairy farming should be treated with caution, according to the boss of Country Crest, one of the country’s most successful food companies.

Dairying is the most profitable sector of mainstream farming and it has become the one most young farmers want to eke out a career in.

However, speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the Macra na Feirme annual rally last weekend, Michael Hoey, founder and managing director of Country Crest, warned that farmers should not chase just one business avenue.

Listen to "Michael Hoey from Country Crest" on Spreaker.

“Don’t just put all your eggs in the one basket.

“I think a little bit of spread is important because if a problem crops up, you always end up having something that can carry the other problem when it happens,” Hoey said.

Speaking during a tour of the Country Crest farm on Saturday, Hoey said his farming career began in school.

The farm and business

The Hoeys had a farm of 50 acres and they sold vegetables in Dublin city, starting their day at 4am to get produce into the city for selling.

The business has developed into a multi-million euro operation supplying all of the major domestic retail outlets as well as high-end restaurants.

Resilience is essential in business, according to Hoey.

Business is very much like a game of snakes and ladders.

“You get on so far and sometimes that snake is there and you go right back down again but it’s about picking yourself up and getting going again.


The most pressing issue for Country Crest is, predictably, Brexit.

“You listen to all sorts of experts but, in reality, none of us know what is going to happen. It’s about assessing the problem as you get to it.

“But there are going to be opportunities in there and it’s about the ability to seek out those opportunities as they’re coming. It could be import substitution, it could be many other things.”

Hoey thinks Irish food is a safe bet into the UK market post-Brexit.

“I don’t think the British people are going to buy low-quality, cheap produce. They have very high food standards, they expect very high food standard. That’s why they buy Irish food because they trust us and I don’t see that disappearing tomorrow.”

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