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Minister Creed's speech at Bord Bia Food Academy 5th anniversary event, 23 May 2018

Minister Creed - Bord Bia Food Academy 5th anniversary event

Good morning ladies and gentlemen

I am delighted to welcome you to Bord Bia`s Thinking House today to celebrate the 5th birthday of Food Academy, a pioneering collaboration between two government agencies and a major commercial retailer SuperValu for the benefit of young, local food companies.  It is a prime example of a one-government approach to delivering increased prosperity to the local and national economy with the Bord Bia and Local Enterprise Offices (LEO) working together with SuperValu to nurture new companies through their life growth.

Bord Bia research has shown that there is an increasing consumer interest in high quality locally-produced food products. This interest has helped to boost growth of the sector in recent years ensuring that small food and drink producers are now more closely than ever associated with Ireland’s food and drink identity. The Food Academy acorn was planted in 2013 and now, 5 years on, its roots are well-established in supporting development of small businesses right across Ireland.

In 2017 the estimated value of the small business sector in Ireland was €527 million.  The diversity of the sector is also reflected in the profile of businesses; from start-ups to artisan, lifestyle to fast-growing export-focused enterprises. Food Academy acknowledges that small food businesses have such varying ambitions.  It facilitates equally the producers that wish to supply a few local stores through Food Academy and those that have more ambitious growth targets and are capable of national supply.

Ireland continues to develop a strong and vibrant agribusiness sector. New and innovative food and drink producers are essential to ensure the growth of this sector into the future.  One of Bord Bia’s key priorities is to ensure the commercial success of a world class food industry both in export markets and at home.

The pioneering vision of the Food Academy programme enables its participants to establish a commercially viable business. Bord Bia, LEO and SuperValu have tailored the programme content to ensure that companies are equipped to meet the early challenges they face. The programme content has been fully revised ahead of Food Academy’s five year Birthday and is newly launched this month.

The programme has already helped to support hundreds of vibrant food businesses all around the country. Food Academy Start provides companies with essential training and knowledge in key areas such as market and consumer understanding, unique product and brand positioning, marketing best practice as well as essential areas of food safety, labelling and finance, each delivered by specialists in these areas. The Food Academy Advance programme is an annual follow-on programme providing more in-depth learnings to a selection of successful Food Academy Start graduates.

As the national food marketing agency, Bord Bia has led the content development of the programme to ensure that the specific development needs of small food businesses are met. Through its insights on consumer needs and its expertise in branding, Bord Bia ensures that participants appreciate the importance of getting their proposition right in the eyes of the consumer.

Many of the Food Academy producers have evolved to become Bord Bia clients and engage with the Bord Bia services available to the small food business sector. These include the Brand Forum, SuperBrands, the Marketing Assistance Programme and Market Study Visits.  In addition companies have access to trade development programmes, to retail and foodservice development programmes, international trade shows and flagship events such as Marketplace International and Bloom. 

Bord Bia now engages with over 700 clients within this sector, a figure that has grown from 400 in less than five years.

Conclusion

The Food Academy programme underpins the image of Ireland as a supplier of high quality, innovative and food excellence. Small food producers, often with close links to the farm, are of crucial importance to rural communities.

As you will see during the morning the sector is comprised of a wide variety of individual producers, small family businesses and limited companies, each with different support and development needs.  I am looking forward to hearing the stories of their journeys so far and hearing about their ambitions for the future and sampling the produce of many of the Food Academy companies from around Ireland.

Best wishes to you all.