Food Academy Programme



The Food Academy Programme

To help develop Ireland’s artisan food industry, the Local Enterprise Offices, SuperValu and Bord Bia joined forces in 2013 to create ‘Food Academy’ – a tailored Food Business Development programme for early to mid-stage food business owners.

There are now over 300 Food Academy small producers in Supervalu stores and half of all Food Academy participants expect sales to increase by 50% or more over the next 12 months.

Food Academy collaborates with small businesses on their journey from beyond the start-up phase right through to getting their product on Supervalu shelves. Through workshops, mentoring and the opportunity to pitch to SuperValu team, this is a unique opportunity to see your product on the shelf of one of Ireland’s leading retailers.

It's all about encouraging entrepreneurship in Ireland and giving small producers a big chance.

Programme Objectives

Food Academy is a food business development programme where the participants receive training in food safety, market research and branding, marketing, finance, sustainability, and business development.

The aim of Food Academy is to provide small food businesses with a solid foundation to progress confidently onto retail shelves.

Crucially SuperValu also provide successful participants with the opportunity to trial their product in their local stores for a period of 12 weeks. This provides a real advantage to small businesses in terms of real retail learnings, as they are able to liaise with the store to gain feedback on their product from both the store staff and consumers. Such learnings will help the producer to further develop their product, marketing approach, packaging and distribution.

  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of the tools which can be used to assess market gaps for your product
  • Understand core technical issues facing your business
  • Learn how to grow sales for your product range through better branding and packaging design
  • Gain the tools and knowledge necessary to launch and build a successful food business in Ireland
  • Participants will get the opportunity to present their product to a panel from SuperValu and gain valuable feedback & if successful, can participate in a trial based in local shops, which in the right circumstances, could progress over time to a national listing with SuperValu. There is no guarantee of your product being listed as part of the programme.

Who can participate?

The Food Academy is aimed at those in the early to mid-stages of developing a food or drink business who have already developed a product, trialled it in the marketplace & are looking to scale up and grow their business. This programme is not suitable for early stage start-ups.

Course Content

Food Academy Course Content

The programme consists of 10 half day workshops covering 6 modules, as detailed above. Prior to the programme, there will also be a short online webinar on LEO Financial Supports for your business. These workshops will be a mix of plenary or confined to your Regional Group.


Each participant will receive three dedicated one to one mentor sessions with an experienced Food & Drinks Consultant who will assist you on your journey & provide information, customised advice & help you overcome challenges that you may face along your journey.

How to Apply & Deadlines

In order to apply for a place on the Food Academy Programme the following would apply:

  • You may be at the early to mid-stages of developing a food or drink business and have already developed innovative / on trend product and are looking to scale up and grow the business.
  • You may have already conducted market research, completed the Food Starter Programme, conducted a feasibility study on your idea.
  • You may have already validated the product in the marketplace through trading either via farmers markets or other independent retail.
  • You may have developed a basic product offering/logo and need to further develop the product and branding.
  • You must have capacity & the drive & ambition to grow your food business.
  • You may wish to pivot your business to the mainstream retail channel with an existing product.
  • If you meet the above criteria, then you should consider applying for the Food Academy Programme.

Once you make your application, an initial screening will be carried out by the Food Academy Team & the Trainer. If selected, you will be called for an interview (either online or via a Conference day). If selected, you will be awarded a place on the programme and must attend all of the workshop days. Once the programme is nearing completion there are some documentation that must be provided should you wish to progress to a pitch with SuperValu and a trial.

  • Applications Portal is open from 11th March 2024
  • The deadline for 2024 Applications - Friday April 5th 2024
  • Interviews for places will take place start of June 2024
  • LEO Finance Webinar – 24th June 2024
  • Workshops 1 – 5: Sept 2024 to Feb 2025
  • Trial Period with SuperValu Stores: April 2025

Selection criteria will apply.

If you are interested in this programme for 2024, please ensure that you contact your LEO for advice, complete a Food Starter Programme and / or apply for Mentoring with a Food Mentor to get you ready to be able to apply for Food Academy 2024.