Hugh O’Malley of Achill Oysters is urging restaurants to source Irish seafood to aid the economic recovery from COVID 19.

Achill Oysters produces primarily for the export market, and before the lockdown was sending over 2 tonnes of oysters to China alone.

Hugh O’Malley, owner and farmer of Achill Oysters, based on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, explained how supporting local businesses particularly in remote coastal areas is crucial at this time: “We produce premium Irish rock oysters for the domestic and international market. Pre COVID 19, our international business was thriving. We were exporting over two tonnes of oysters to China every week on top of orders to Singapore, Taiwan, the UK, Iceland and the Netherlands. We have seen a 80% drop in our export sales but I am confident we, and the rest of the industry, will recover. Until then, we have an opportunity to work with restaurants to grow the domestic oyster market and in doing so, directly and indirectly support Irish businesses.”

Irish oysters are renowned worldwide for their quality, achieving premium prices particularly on Asian markets. The majority of Irish oysters grown around our coast are exported to meet this international demand.

However, the domestic market for seafood is growing year on year with the latest figures estimating the sector to be worth €496 million in 2019. The main growth is in the foodservice sector with seafood becoming increasingly popular in restaurants and gastropubs.

After only six years of trading, Hugh has grown the business from 50kg of stock arriving on the farm in 2014 to a farm ten times the size, a processing facility in Ennis, Co. Clare and an e-commerce solution to sell his oysters online.

Hugh concluded: “We are proud to be part of this community employing local people on our farm. We are also very grateful to our Irish customers and fishmongers who have continued to support us. In fact, our online sales increased twentyfold during the lockdown. If COVID 19 has thought us anything, it is to continue to appreciate what we have in this country including fantastic seafood right on our doorstep.”

For more information on Achill Oysters and how you can order online, please visit www.achilloysters.com.

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