Killyman based Hughes Mushrooms is celebrating after picking up an award at the prestigious Waitrose Way Awards 2015 at the House of Lords in London for their sustainability efforts.
The family-run business, which has seen its turnover effectively double in the last four years to £29m, employs nearly 100 people at its main packing facility at Trew Mount Road, Dungannon.
Hughes Mushrooms currently supplies the UK market with over 240 tonnes of mushrooms a week.
In addition to Waitrose, they also supply leading national retailers Sainsburys and Aldi and have an own-brand ‘Filled Full Of’ range of stuffed mushrooms that has also grown since its launch in 2014.
The company works with a network of over 25 growers across Northern Ireland that enables it to supply a vast range of various specification white and chestnut mushrooms.
Highly sought-after, the Waitrose Way Awards recognise and reward best practice to suppliers that have made outstanding efforts and achievements in supporting the leading retailer to deliver its ethical and sustainability objectives.
Emmet Hughes, director at Hughes Mushrooms said: “We are incredibly proud to win this national award. We’ve been working with Waitrose for 7 years and this is a very strong endorsement for the work we are doing. It’s great that our mushrooms, and the business behind it, are getting recognition at the very highest levels within the food retailing industry in the UK. It’s also a result of the hard work and dedication of our employees and network of dedicated growers in Northern Ireland.”
Quentin Clark, head of sustainability and ethical sourcing at Waitrose commented: “The awards are a way of celebrating the hard work that excellent suppliers like Hughes Mushrooms have undertaken to improve the sustainability of their businesses and ultimately the Waitrose business as a whole. It was hard to pick the winners from such a high standard of applicants and we are delighted that suppliers like Hughes Mushrooms share the same goals that we do.”
Mr Hughes added: “Our growth in recent years has been fuelled by a surge in consumer demand for locally-produced, healthy, high quality mushrooms. We have plans for further growth and awards like this place us in a very firm position.”
Hughes Mushrooms’ significant carbon reduction programme was behind the company’s success in the Waitrose Way Awards. The company was recognised for a range of innovative measures it has taken that have resulted in significant environmental achievements including a 47.7% reduction of CO2 per unit of production, 100% of its electricity derived from green energy sources, 210 tonnes of plastic saved annually from landfill and the formation of an Active Green Team across its network.
The Waitrose award is one of several the company has been awarded for its environmental efforts. In September, it scooped the award for ‘Best use of Renewable Energy Sources’ in the Sustainable Ireland Awards 2015. Hughes Mushrooms also picked up a Water Champion Award from the Consumer Council and a Green Biz Environmental Award which recognises good environmental management.
Hughes Mushrooms was founded in 1964 on the site of the Trew and Moy Railway Station, which closed the same year. Steeped in mushroom heritage, the company’s processing facility still operates around this track of railway that historically served as an important link in the transport of locally-grown mushrooms to Great Britain. The business was formed when founder Kevin Hughes invested in a small lorry to offer local growers an alternative means of transport to get into market.
The company remains a family-managed business with the founder’s son, Kieran Hughes, serving as Managing Director and his sons Emmet, Ciaran Og, Daniel and Brian working at various roles within the business.