Co-operation is the way forward for Irish food producers

The official launch of the Irish Food Co-op marks the beginning of a new era for Irish food producers and retailers alike; comprising award winning artisan food companies, this newly formed entity brings together a wealth of food expertise, market knowledge and superior quality products. At the core of the Irish Food Co-op members rests a passion and a commitment to work together for the benefit of all members.

The seven founding members, based in the southeast region, all manage successful food businesses in their own right, producing brands we all know and love such as Knockanore Cheese, Killowen Yogurts, O'Neill's bacon, Tastefully Yours chutneys & relishes, Carrigbyrne farmhouse cheeses, Mileeven Fine Foods honey and the Little Mill brown bread mix. It's not surprising that each company has received multiple Great Taste and Blas na hEireann awards for their product ranges. However, these seven forward thinking companies understand that by working together, they are even stronger.

Under the newly formed entity, food producers will now deliver their products to one central warehouse where distribution and administration will be effectively managed. While the focus for the initial 6 months will be on deliveries to retail outlets based primarily in Wexford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Wicklow and Dublin, the strategy has always been to provide support for food companies and retailers at a national level.

The benefits of such an initiative to Irish retailers are considerable; retailers will receive one delivery and one invoice from multiple producers, significantly reducing the time and administrative cost associated with dealing with individual companies.

At the recent launch of the Co-op, Government bodies, retailers, food companies and the media met the seven ambitious food companies. Attendees at the event enjoyed a wide selection of canapés prepared by celebrity chef Edward Hayden, using the finest of ingredients provided by the Co-op members. The venture was made possible through funding provided by Kilkenny Leader Partnership, and thus it was fitting that the event was officially opened by KLP CEO, Declan Rice. Delcan reiterated the support of Kilkenny Leader Partnership for the venture; "today is only the first step in this exciting journey for Irish producers; as the Irish Food Co-op expands and evolves, so too will the support from our partnership".

This sentiment was echoed by Eoghan Hegarty, General Manager of the Irish Food Co-op, "this innovative approach opens up opportunities for smaller local producers to increase their market footprint both in Ireland and internationally. We would not be at this point but for the passion and commitment of both the KLP and the seven starting companies, and we look forward to bringing other quality Irish Food producers on board over the coming months".

Sarah Gough, owner of Mileeven Fine Foods and Chairperson of the Co-op, concluded the event, speaking on behalf of the member producers, highlighting in particular their drive, enthusiasm and dedication.

The Irish Food Co-op is based in Piltown, Co Kilkenny; for more information, contact the office on 051 364401. Additional information is available on