July 2016: Larry Murrin, CEO, Dawn Farms

Business Person of the Month | Fri 5 Aug | Author – Business & Finance Larry Murrin Dawn Farms

Larry Murrin has been a leading voice in highlighting the measures the Irish Government needs to take to ensure agri jobs are protected post-Brexit.

In the wake of the recent Brexit, Dawn Foods CEO Larry Murrin has been vocal about the impact it will have on the Irish agri business.

Murrin is concerned that the entire food sector should work together to manage what is going to be a very long period of uncertainty over the next two or three years.

“Inside and outside the farm gate in this country there are more than 200,000 incomes and jobs to be protected in what is the country’s most important indigenous industry,” commented Murrin.

He continued: “We’ve got to work together, all stakeholders led by the Government, to protect our position. This really needs to be an all hands to the pump solution, but the Government needs to lead this,” he said.

Naas-based Dawn Farms, one of Europe’s leading cooked meat ingredients company, is a supplier of meat to some of the world’s largest food companies.

The vast majority of the company’s produce is exported: some 85% of Dawn Farm’s output is exported to over 40 countries in the UK, Continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Our success has been based on having long-term relationships with our customers and working together to anticipate and meet the key trends in the competitive markets they serve

Dawn Farms Foods was born in 1985, with Dawn Meats becoming the main shareholder in the company. Murrin expanded into Cherrywood in Ballyfermot before moving to Naas, where the company now has two plants.

The company made a huge breakthrough in 1991 when Pizza Hut, chose Dawn Farms as one of five local suppliers for meat toppings.

The company has since expanded, opening a facility at Northampton, England, where it employs 250 people, in addition to 600 staff in Ireland.

Today, Dawn Farms plant in Naas is the largest producer of dried sausage for pizza and sandwiches in Europe.

Murrin believes an emphasis on developing long-term relationships with customers has been key to the company’s continued success. “We are a business-to-business operation. Our success has been based on having long-term relationships with our customers and working together to anticipate and meet the key trends in the competitive markets they serve,” he says.

He continued: “Research and innovation have always been at the heart of our approach and we are committed to maintaining this winning formula. Our customers want reassurance that the food being served to them is produced in a sustainable way with absolute certainty about safety, traceability and animal health and welfare practices. They want clear evidence of high-quality, lightly processed, nutritious ingredients.”

FOCUS ON SAFETY 

Enterprise Ireland and University College Dublin recently launched a new innovation partnership to enhance food quality and safety.

Dawn Farms is heavily involved in the €1.7m programme aimed at developing a new predictive software toolbox to enhance food quality and safety approaches, nationally and with global reach, using environmental intelligence data.

We’ve got to work together, all stakeholders led by the Government, to protect our position. This really needs to be an all hands to the pump solution, but the Government needs to lead this

During a two-year period researchers at UCD will track the environments in a number of food manufacturing plants in Ireland belonging to the industry partners. These plants include infant formula grade ingredient plants, a cooked and fermented meat processing plant and a precision vitamin and mineral pre-mix manufacturing facility.

This will prevent bacteria which can spoil food or pose a human health risk entering the food supply chain in a faster and a more sustainable way.

GREEN SCHEMES

Dawn Farms is also a founder member of the Origin Green programme, the first nationwide sustainability programme of its kind in the world, run by Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

The company is also a sponsor and firm supporter of the Origin Green Ambassador Programme, which seeks to promote best practice by combining an academic qualification with work placement in sustainability roles within major global food companies, who are thought leaders in this area.

Dawn Farms was the first company in the Origin Green programme to develop a truly holistic approach to sustainability by incorporating targets and measures across key sustainability pillars.

Environmentally, the company is a zero waste to landfill site, a target achieved one year ahead of schedule in 2014 and has achieved notable reductions in relative energy usage, water usage and carbon emissions.

In the development of healthier options, all Dawn Farms products from its factories in Naas and Northampton are 100% free of artificial colours, as well as palm oil, nut and MSG.

CV highlights

  • In 1976, he opened Crumbs, a small coffee shop near the bustling Gallery Green market, which preceded the St Stephen’s green shopping centre in Dublin.
  • A second café was opened in 1979, which began preparing cooked meats, which they started to sell on to Superquinn and other businesses.
  • In the early 1980s the manufacturing business had moved to a larger kitchen in Windmill Lane.
  • He then met three businessmen – Peter and John Queally and Dan Browne of Dawn Meats – who backed Murrin’s business.
  • Dawn Farms Foods set up in 1985.
  • In 1991, Pizza Hut chose Dawn Farms as its sole supplier.
  • Murrin took over as president of employers’ lobby group Ibec in 2014.