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Today (13th May) the IEA announced that the latest group of food producers on it’s Channel Clusters Development Programme Win Valuable New Sales Agreements with Horgan’s Deli Supplies.
A group of five ambitious food entrepreneurs have secured valuable new sales agreements with Horgan’s Deli Supplies – one of Ireland’s largest speciality food distributors.
Their success is the direct result of a recent Irish Exporters Association (IEA) food business development programme which was run over a six month period. The programme was funded under the EU Interreg initiative and supported by Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland .
With trade customers ranging from individual restaurants and delicatessens to all of the major Irish supermarket multiples, the five selected food brands will now benefit from Horgan’s Deli Supplies’ extensive presence in the Irish retail and food service sectors. The company has trade accounts with Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, Marks & Spencer, SuperValu, Centra, Spar, Londis and Mace.
The successful food businesses were: Inagh Farmhouse Cheese Ltd; Dee’s Eat Well, Be Happy; Irish Atlantic Sea Salt Ltd; Janet's Country Fayre and Farm Fresh Salads.
Designed to help food SMEs respond to a changing retail and distribution environment, the innovative ‘Channel Clusters Development Programme’ facilitates a unique style of focused industry training.
As part of the specialist training series, select high-achieving food entrepreneurs participated in workshops, attended trade functions and received industry-specific mentoring.
It’s all part of targeted approach to training that aims to provide comprehensive business development support for Ireland’s emerging food brands.
Godfrey Lydon, Food and Drink Manager with the IEA, is responsible for developing the forward-thinking ‘Cluster’ training programme and coordinating its delivery. He believes that supporting food brands at SME-level is vital for Ireland’s future economic growth.
“There’s an increasing realisation that the food industry offers excellent potential in terms of export opportunities and growing Ireland’s GNP. By helping to develop food businesses at SME-level, we’re laying the foundations that will help to advance what’s widely expected to be an export-led economic recovery. Training projects such as the IEA’s Channel Clusters Development Programme contribute to a strong export-focused food and drinks industry by nurturing emerging food businesses.
It’s important to remember that the food industry is one of our largest indigenous sectors and a key contributor to the Irish economy – an assertion reiterated in the latest ERSI quarterly economic commentary. In fact, the ERSI Spring Quarterly Report outlined how exports from the food and drink sector increased in value terms by 11% during 2010. It’s no surprise, then, that many economic commentators are comparing the current scenario to the situation in the 1980s, when traditional firms were responsible for export-led growth.
Our extremely practical ‘Clusters’ programme has succeed in opening doors for five early-stage Irish food companies. The listings achieved by these ambitious food businesses will allow them to significantly advance their presence in the home market and give them the drive and confidence to pursue export opportunities over the short to medium term”, Lydon explains.
Michael O’Neill, Managing Director of West Cork based Irish Atlantic Sea Salt Ltd, echoes Godrey Lydon’s comments.
O’Neill believes that the new supply agreements with Horgan’s Deli Supplies, put the five Cluster programme businesses in a particularly advantageous position:
“Participation in the IEA’s industry-focused training has greatly strengthening our capacity to win new business at home and helped us to enhance our sales campaign in export markets.
During the training workshops we were given an opportunity to communicate directly with retail and food business consultants who helped us recognise and augment our unique selling points, further establish our brand positioning and become more aware of both niche and mainstream market opportunities. Today, food businesses need to cope with a more challenging retail environment – it’s more fragmented and extremely diverse. As a result, it was particularly useful to attain feedback from experienced food industry experts and retail specialists who included representatives from Horgan’s Deli Supplies.
After the six month programme we’re delighted to have achieved a new sales listing and developed a very clear strategy for future sales growth. Like the other four entrepreneurs who secured sales agreements, I’ll be delighted to see my brand on the shelves of a growing number of delicatessens and food halls across the country”.
The IEA’s Channel Clusters Development Programme is part of the Irish Exporters’ Association ongoing initiative to promote industry-focused business training for Irish SMEs.
The programme was delivered by leading Irish food marketing consultancy firm, Bullseye Food Marketing. Through a series of practical workshops and mentoring, as well as attendance at trade events, the course was designed to nurture a partnership approach between producers, retailers and distributors.
The Channel Clusters project was made possible through a financial contribution from the European Regional Development Fund Ireland Wales (INTERREG 4A) Programme 2007-2013. This article reflects the views of the author only and not those of the Programme Authorities.