Retail Breakthrough for Start-Ups

Fourteen food and drink producers from around the country have made a retail breakthrough this month by securing a space on SuperValu shelves through the Food Academy programme.

All supported by their Local Enterprise Office, the start-ups began the Food Academy Start programme in 2017. This is a training and mentoring programme for early-stage food companies, run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) jointly with Bord Bia and SuperValu.

Their products can now be found in key SuperValu stores from this month as part of a trial, marking a major milestone for the start-up food business.

The full list of Food Academy Start companies that are “going live” in June 2018 is:

Nicoya (nut butters), supported by LEO South Dublin

Buttercream Dream (vegan cupcakes), supported by LEO Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

Sarah’s Rawbites (raw vegan bars), supported by LEO Fingal

Irish Syrups (dandelion and elderflower syrups), supported by LEO Kildare

Ballykilcavan Brewing Company (craft beer), supported by LEO Laois

Invis A Veg (grated vegetables for children’s meals), supported by LEO Laois

Run On Pulses (vegan burgers), supported by LEO Laois

Le Paysan (chicken liver and vegan pate), supported by LEO Wicklow

Melody Street Foods (marinades and mayonnaises), supported by LEO Wicklow

Rohan’s Sauces (sauces), supported by LEO Wicklow

Sukhi’s India (pakora and curry masala mixes), supported by LEO Wicklow

Wicklow Brewery (craft beer), supported by LEO Wicklow

NutriQuick (taco fries, chilli con carne and peri peri chicken), supported by LEO Wicklow

Mont Beer (craft beer), supported by LEO Wicklow

Food Starter Clients

Run over a series of workshops, the Food Academy programme nurtures new start-ups in the food and drink sector, focusing on areas such as business development, food safety, responding to market trends, distribution and driving sales.

2018 marks the fifth year of the programme and over the last five years, graduates have sold €78 million worth of produce in SuperValu stores, supporting approximately 1,500 jobs in over 320 LEO-supported businesses.


The Food Academy programme is also expected to generate €50 million in sales annually for emerging Irish food producers within the next five years.

Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of the Network of Local Enterprise Offices said: “By supporting food and drink start-ups with specialist training and one-to-one mentoring in the Food Academy programme with Bord Bia and SuperValu, the Local Enterprise Offices are helping even more local companies make important business breakthroughs.  Over the last five years of the programme, emerging food and drink companies have helped to support around 1,500 jobs. By helping local companies think and act more strategically about their food and drink business, this will increase their chances of success, helping to create even more jobs here locally.”

Karen Tyner, Small Business Manager with Bord Bia said: “Bord Bia has long recognised the contribution that small food producers make to Ireland’s food and drink industry, bringing a diverse range of quality and artisan products to market, each with a unique story. Such stories increasingly resonate with Irish consumers who are keen to support small local producers and Food Academy provides an excellent vehicle to do that. Over the past five years, Bord Bia has been proud to work in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Offices and SuperValu to support hundreds of small food producers through Food Academy Start, providing them with a viable route to market and enabling them to achieve sustainable growth”.  

MaryKate Mageean, SuperValu’s Food Academy Manager commented: “As the number one supporter of the Irish food industry, we source from over 1800 Irish suppliers. The Food Academy programme is a key pillar of our support for local producers and local businesses and we’re delighted to now have over 320 small Irish food companies well on the road to success, with their products on shelf in SuperValu stores around Ireland.  We are proud that we have helped these small producers grow to generate sales of €78million worth of produce through our SuperValu stores. The programme continues to go from strength to strength, allowing us to nurture small producers to ensure their growth and sustainability.” 

The local food and drink producers will be joining more established Irish brands which have successfully completed the Food Academy Programme in recent years, such as the Happy Pear, Absolute Nutrition and HIRO by Roisín.