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Big future for small Food Enterprises in the North East says Minister Smith

Speaking at the opening of the Department of Agriculture and Food's 2nd Regional Food Forum in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan this evening, Brendan Smith T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for food at the Department of Agriculture and Food said he was delighted to be able to bring this event to the North East. The forum aims to stimulate and expand interest in local and regional food production in the counties of Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan.

The Regional Food Fora initiative is organised by the Department of Agriculture and Food in conjunction with Bord Bia. It is a unique opportunity for local food producers and support agencies to come together, develop ideas and identify areas where they can collaborate. The evening featured presentations, a questions and answers session with a panel of speakers who are actively engaged in the food business together with opportunities for producers to meet with the development agencies.

The theme for the evening was "Market Focus for Small Food Enterprises" and the Minister identified the small and speciality food sector as an area of considerable growth potential in the coming years. Minister Smith noted "following the reform of the EU Common Agricultural Policy we must, as food producers, focus on adding value and differentiating product. It is precisely in these areas that local and regional food producers are excelling, but we must keep our eye on the ball".

Minister Smith said he was particularly familiar with the contribution small food enterprises made to his home region, adding "the skill, the ideas and the motivation required to produce top quality food products has always been evident in the North East. There is a strong tradition here of quality food products. Tonight we want to help further develop our local food enterprises and harness the regions undoubted potential. You are building your businesses locally, you are investing in the future of this region and we want to invest in you".

The regional food forum is expected to focus attention on the demands of the market place and the key drivers of success while highlighting the technical and financial supports available. Two more events will take place before the end of the year, the first is expected to be in Tullamore, County Offaly at the beginning of September.

12 June, 2006

Note for Editors

Food companies in Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan were invited to attend and regional produce from a selection of these companies was showcased at the event. The various development agencies and service providers involved in the food industry also attended.

The evening consisted of two presentations by industry experts followed by a panel discussion involving speakers who have developed food-related businesses. Significant time was also allocated for networking and agency showcasing. Food producers had the opportunity to meet with State Agencies and service providers such as Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, Irish LEADER Network, FSAI, County Enterprise Boards, Teagasc, Western Development Commission (WDC), etc.

Presentations

"Emerging market opportunities for speciality foods" - Muiris Kennedy, Director of Corporate Marketing Services, Bord Bia.

"Authentic Irish Ingredients: An island of Regions" - John McKenna, Food Writer and Author

Panel discussion

Neven Maguire, MacNean House & Bistro
John Rogan, Corry Lane Smokehouse
Mark O'Connor, The Gourmet Mushroom Company
John Mc Kenna, Food Writer and Author

Date Released: 12 June 2006