A 140-acre holding in north county Dublin is to be used exclusively by the company for organic production to ensure a regular supply of fruit and vegetables as well as some beef.
The farm, which has housing for 60 cattle, has undergone a two-year cleansing' programme to win certification by the Irish Organic Trust, with crop production due to start next spring.
According to deputy chairman Eamonn Quinn, demand for organic produce in Superquinn stores has doubled over the past two years, mainly as a result of recent food scares, health concerns and consumer worries about GM foods. His chain already sells over 200 organic products, including beef, lamb, eggs, cheese, fruit and vegetables, but has difficulty maintaining regular supplies at reasonable prices.
The move into farming will change that. "Having our own dedicated organic farm will give us locally produced organic fruit and vegetables and reduce our dependence on imports," he said. The chain will be recruiting growers for the farm venture over the next year.