Hannigan Live Irish Shellfish are as fresh as they come

04 January 2017

Established in 2001 by Eugene Hannigan, the company has grown to become one of the largest exporters of live Irish shellfish.

Established in 2001 by Eugene Hannigan, the company has grown to become one of the largest exporters of live Irish shellfish.

The Irish seafood industry makes a significant contribution to the national economy in terms of output, employment and exports, while generating approximately 11,000 jobs in rural coastal regions.

Ireland’s natural resource based seafood industry provides an important source of economic activity in our remote coastal regions. It provides jobs on fishing vessels, on fish farms, in processing operations, in distribution and marketing seafood at home and to export markets and in a large number of smaller ancillary companies that provide services to the mainstream industry operators.

The industry contributes about €700 million annually to national income of which Shellfish generates €172 million of that total.

Irish seafood operates in two very differently performing markets: buoyant export markets and a difficult home market. 

The seafood processing sector is concentrated in the coastal regions of Donegal, Galway, Cork, Kerry and the South East. There are approximately 200 firms, mainly SMEs, are engaged in handling, distribution and processing of fish. Less than 5% of these companies had more than 50 people employed fulltime, while a significant number of small operators supply a local market or sell to niche market outlets.

One such business is Killybegs based Live Irish Shellfish who are owned and operated by Hannigan Fish Trading. 

For this month’s edition of Irish Trucker, we profile the company and speak to transport manager Eddie Ward about the logistics issues that face them on a daily basis.

Established in 2001 by Eugene Hannigan, the company has grown to become one of the largest exporters of live Irish shellfish.

Operating a fleet of 13 trucks (five artics, five fridges and three rigids), Live Irish Shellfish export their products to the mainly Brittany and Spain as well as places as far away as China.

“With regards to the transport of the fish, it is a very specialised skill and it takes a special type of driver to work in this environment,” said Eddie.

“We supply in between 20 and 25 wholesalers all across the regions mentioned. The artics and the fridges all head for the continent, while rigids usually go to the airport where we fly the fish to the likes of China.”

Live Irish Shellfish operate their own two purpose built vessels which are continuously fishing along the coast of Ireland for the many different types of shellfish, although one dominates their market.

“We have access to some of the purest waters and freshest shellfish in the world. We have our own boats that fish out of our local harbour and land daily so we can process during the night to ensure the freshest product possible.

“Our core product is the Brown Crab which we supply to various customers the majority of which are based in Brittany. We pride ourselves on being able to supply the freshest and tastiest Brown Crab on the market.”

The live crab is transferred from the boats to specially built Vivier trucks. These trucks contain water tanks that keep the crab alive, and in excellent condition until it reaches customers.

“The crabs are transferred from the boat to the lorry by the crew where they are placed in aerated tanks. The lorries can hold up to 10-tons of crabs and the average transport time to mainland Europe is 36 hours.”

Our location is key to the success of the business as the North West of Ireland in Donegal on the shores of rugged North Atlantic Coastline produce some of the best shellfish in the world.

“Every week we export a wide variety of live shellfish to our network of clients all over Europe in our fleet of dedicated Vivier trucks. The trucks are converted by ourselves and they are all either Scania or Volvo.”

Eddie feels that their reputation and working relationship with all concerned has helped the company grow over the years.

“Because of our reputation for reliability and service, we have a great supply network of all types of fishermen and boats right along the North Coast of Ireland.

“With excellent relationships with our local fishermen and suppliers we can ensure demand is met with supply and still ensure sustainable fishing is at the core of our business.

Seafood innovation and new product development, together with maintenance of an international reputation for wholesome, fresh and natural seafood, produced in the most sustainable and environmentally friendly manner, are essential to the advancement and further development of the Irish seafood sector. State support for the sector is focused on initiatives that endeavour to deliver these fundamental requirements while also seeking to increase Ireland’s market share of the international seafood industry.

“This is a difficult industry to operate in, but there is support there and it is badly needed. Time constraints are a major issue, but fortunately, we have a good team here with many lads working with the company for a long time now.”

Hannigan Live Irish Shellfish
Killybegs, Co Donegal,
Tel: 00353(0)74 9732134
E-mail: info@liveirishshellfish.com

Taken from Irish Trucker & Light Commercials magazine, Vol 19 No 5, June 2016 

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