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Food Academy to support 71 jobs in the Midlands Region

John Lalor Kilbeggan Organic Oats Westmeath LEO Food Academy Participant (2)

51 people employed by producers from the Food Academy Programme in the Midlands region, which is run by the Local Enterprise Offices, Bord Bia and SuperValu with 20 new jobs expected over next 12 months.

A survey by the Local Enterprise Offices shows that 21 small food and drink producers in the Midlands region, members of the Food Academy Programme who employ 51 people, have made the break-through into the retail market. Those same businesses expect to create a further 20 jobs over the next 12 months, bringing the total number of jobs supported to 71 across the Midlands.

At an event organised by the Local Enterprise Offices this week, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ms. Mary Mitchell O’ Connor T.D. met with food producers from eight different regions, including Kilbeggan Organic Foods from Westmeath in the Midlands. All eight companies are among the 281 producers to have successfully made the break-through into the retail market.

Run over a series of workshops, the Food Academy programme is an initiative of the Local Enterprise Offices, Bord Bia and SuperValu to nurture new start-ups in the food and drink sector and it focuses on areas such as business planning, understanding consumer trends and raising finance.

Minister Mitchell O’ Connor encouraged more ‘early-stage’ food and drink producers to apply for the programme through Local Enterprise Office Westmeath. The Minister said: “The Food Academy Programme has been running very successfully for the last three years by the Local Enterprise Offices in partnership with Bord Bia and SuperValu. This programme has already enabled almost 300 small food businesses to start and grow, creating valuable jobs across every county and region. One of my priorities as Minister is creating an environment where job growth can thrive, particularly in rural Ireland. I want to thank Bord Bia and SuperValu for their support and I want to thank the LEOs for their endeavours in developing this opportunity”. 

Start-ups and small businesses in the food and drink sector are supported by Local Enterprise Offices through measures such as financial assistance, mentoring and on-line trading supports. Tracey Tallon Business Advisor with Local Enterprise Office Westmeath said: “By equipping owners and managers of local food businesses with industry knowledge and skills, they have a better chance of succeeding in business. The goal of the Food Academy programme is to help more food producers to start selling through supermarkets, as well as through farmers’ markets and to provide them with the supports, information and advice to scale up and achieve this retail break-through. According to research undertaken by the Local Enterprise Offices, Food Academy producers in the Midlands region already support 51 jobs. Over the next 12 months, these producers are planning to create an additional 20 new jobs overall.”

Aidan Cotter, the CEO of Bord Bia, highlighted how the programme helps new food producers understand market positioning and ‘Unique Selling Points.’ He said: "Bord Bia is delighted with the success of the Food Academy programme. The partnership approach with the Local Enterprise Offices and SuperValu has created a real opportunity to cultivate sustainable small food companies by supporting them through the initial challenging phases of growth. These small innovative and dynamic food businesses play an important role in Ireland’s agri-food sector both locally and nationally. The producers receive a combination of commercial and marketing insight from Bord Bia as well as expert advice in branding, market research, distribution and business development, which arms them with the tools to strengthen their chances of future success. The programme has consistently delivered tangible benefits resulting in job creation and sustainable local food businesses.”

The businesses on the programme receive one to one mentoring and also pitch for a chance to trial their products in a SuperValu store. Since the programme began in 2013, over 1,100 products have been successfully trialled and are now on sale through the Irish supermarket chain. According to SuperValu, consumers in Ireland are expected to spend €25 million on Food Academy products in their stores in 2016.

Commenting on the announcement, Martin Kelleher, SuperValu Managing Director said: “As the number one supporter of the Irish food industry, we are committed to sourcing from local suppliers and helping to create the next generation of Irish food entrepreneurs. By supporting these Food Academy producers, we are bringing community based start-ups to market and providing them with the potential to grow their business as well as providing employment within the local community. We are proud to nurture the energy and passion of these entrepreneurial producers, which in turn contributes to the prosperity of local economies across Ireland.”

The Minister also met with Food Academy producers behind other Irish brands, such as Emerald Oils in Tipperary (South East region), HiRó by Róisin in Dublin City (Dublin region), Wellnice Pops in Limerick (Mid West region), The Galway Food Company (West region), Irish Fish Canners in Donegal (Border region), Loughbeg Farm in West Cork (South West region) and Nutraplenish in Kildare (Mid East region).

The Food Academy Start programme is delivered through the Local Enterprise Offices in local authorities and details around the next programme are available through www.localenterprise.ie


For all media information and queries, please contact your Local Enterprise Office.


Notes to Editor

Food Academy Start - Facts and Figures

281* food and drink producers from all over the country have successfully trialled products in SuperValu, through the Food Academy Start Programme. These food and drink producers currently have 1,111* products on sale in various SuperValu stores. SuperValu/Musgrave Retail Partners estimate that consumers will spend €25 million* on these Food Academy products in SuperValu stores in 2016. *Source: SuperValu/Musgrave Retail Partners


Midlands Region

Food Academy producers in the Midlands region collectively employ 51 people (full-time equivalent posts), according to research carried out by the Local Enterprise Offices in July 2016. This figure is made up of 43 full-time jobs and 16 part-time jobs (8 full-time equivalents).


When Food Academy producers in the Midlands region were asked to project their employment numbers in 12 months’ time, in July 2017, the total projected figure is 71 full-time equivalent posts. This figure is made up of 58 projected full-time jobs and 26 part-time jobs (13 full-time equivalents).