Over a period of six months, food SMEs from across Co. Cork, will also participate in trade events and visit some of Cork’s most successful food retailers and food producers as part of organised market research visits.
In addition, participants will be offered the enviable opportunity of meeting key food industry experts, including potential retail food buyers.
Coordinated by the South Cork and West Cork Enterprise Boards, this innovative food business development programme is part of an ongoing strategy to offer support and guidance to Cork’s valuable food production and agri-business sectors.
According to Sean O’Sullivan, CEO, South Cork Enterprise Board, the Advanced Food Development Programme 2011, is designed to nurture food businesses that operate within an industry that has been identified as being vital to future economic growth:
“The South & West Cork Enterprise Boards are delighted to be associated with such an innovative and proactive food business development programme. This forward-thinking programme supports our local food companies as they learn new ways to capitalise on current consumer trends and ensure that their product range delivers on consumer demands. A core objective of the programme is for participants to develop strong food brands that will enable them to become more competitive and further contribute to local employment and economic recovery.
This course is part of a movement that recognises and strengthens Cork’s position in speciality food production as well as its reputation for entrepreneurial excellence in the food industry. We want to give food companies the tools they need to create a unique brand that will build their profile to the point that a demand is created for their product. In times of economic recession people are more focused on buying Irish, so it is extremely important for food companies to market their product correctly in order to compete.
Frequently, Ireland’s leading food multinationals make all the headlines, however, it’s genuinely vital that we also provide training support, and encouragement to food SMEs at grass-roots level. Today’s food businesses and local micro-businesses offer enormous potential for future economic growth and sustainable employment.
Here in County Cork, we already have a strong tradition of food production, particularly within the artisan food sector. It’s crucial to build on this wealth of traditional food heritage by helping local businesses to reach the next level.
Throughout the county there are already many successful food entrepreneurs who have established strong brands in the local marketplace with their quality food products. Our County Enterprise Boards programme aims to bolster these entrepreneurs’ existing experience and help fill any gaps in knowledge that might be restricting their food business development.
By up-skilling and looking at new strategies to grow sales, we expect that these County Cork food entrepreneurs will make huge progress in terms of reaching their full potential”.
Covering a broad range of fundamental business and marketing skills, the programme will assist food businesses in establishing their unique selling points and implementing strategies that will be vital to future growth. Course modules include business planning, market research, market positioning, online marketing, financial control systems, consumer and retail trends, as well as the study of quality systems and legal requirements. In addition, participants will receive coaching with regard to how to ‘pitch’ products to buyers and distributors.
Michael Hanley, CEO, West Cork Enterprise Board says a practical approach to training is essential.
“It’s an increasingly competitive marketplace. However, we believe that by furnishing businesses with the right skills set and also ensuring that they’re aware of niche market opportunities, County Cork food companies are well-positioned to succeed.
It’s important to remember that our training programme is specifically targeted at food companies. Consequently, all aspects of the initiative are tailored to the meet the needs of food businesses and are delivered by experts who have an in-depth knowledge of food marketing and business development. The combination of workshops, mentoring and market research visits make the programme an exciting training initiative for all involved.
Following completion of the programme we’re looking forward to staying in contact with participants and supporting them with ongoing networking projects, SME training projects, and possible capital investment grant aid.
Over a hundred thousand people are directly and indirectly employed in the Irish food industry so well-planned, dynamic food training is absolutely essential”, Hanley explains.
On behalf of the South and West Cork Enterprise boards, leading food brand marketing consultancy, Bullseye Food Marketing, will coordinate the practical sales and marketing programme.
According to Bullseye Food Marketing’s Managing Director, Conor Hyde, “Bad marketing is one of the top three reasons why food companies fail”.
“Small food companies often don’t have the time or skills required to market their brands properly. Even the smallest Irish food company, on a limited budget, can and should develop a strong brand to survive in today’s competitive retail environment.
The aim of this programme is to significantly increase each food company’s turnover at the end of the 6-month period. Throughout the programme we monitor and evaluate the progress of each business against set goals and objectives.
With its tradition of high quality food, it’s no surprise that the Irish speciality food and drink market is thriving. The Irish consumer is now seeking new and innovative local speciality food products, driven by health, convenience, authenticity, and taste. This programme helps food companies to deliver to consumers exactly what they crave. We help ensure that each company develops the correct product with the right unique selling points, best packaging, optimum price points and effective distribution”.
For further press information, please contact:
South Cork Enterprise Board
Tel: 021 4975281
West Cork Enterprise Board
Tel: 023 8834700