Detta McNiffe, McNiffes Boxty pictured with other Food Academy participants from around the country.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD and Minister for Trade, Business & Employment, EU Digital Single Market & Data Protection Pat Breen TD marked the fifth year of the Food Academy programme this week, which is expected to generate €50 million in sales annually for emerging Irish food producers within the next five years.
Food Academy is a joint initiative between the network of Local Enterprise Offices within the local authorities, Bord Bia and SuperValu and was established to support early-stage Irish food businesses. Participating companies gain access to expertise in branding, market research, business development and distribution, to allow them to scale up and secure listings with SuperValu.
Local Enterprise Office Leitrim have been involved with Food Academy since it’s inception and have seen 10 of their clients now part of the Food Academy programme and supplying SuperValu stores across the county.
Joe Lowe, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Leitrim said; “The Food Academy Programme has been extremely popular for us in the last 5 years. The programme created an opportunity for local food entrepreneurs in Leitrim to avail of specialised mentoring and guidance that previously hadn’t existed in the food business.
"It meant those who had a great food or beverage idea now could see a clear path from idea to shelf. Some of our clients including McNiffes Boxty have all taken part in Food Academy and we are still working with them now on different areas of their business as they continue to grow.”
Since the programme’s inception in 2013, Food Academy graduates, supported by their Local Enterprise Offices, have sold €78 million worth of produce in SuperValu stores and the 329 suppliers involved have grown to provide approximately 1,500 jobs.
A range of suppliers have substantially grown their business with SuperValu since graduating from the programme and have benefitted from the ongoing financial and mentoring supports from their Local Enterprise Office
This is all possible due to the collaborative nature of the Food Academy Programme, in which a cross government departmental programme engaging with the private retail sector has allowed Food Academy participants to get specialised local support.
This comes through the assistance of the Local Enterprise Offices, SuperValu’s community retail model whereby their independent retailers can provide participants with a unique opportunity to sell in one or a small group of stores, and Bord Bia’s on the ground knowledge of the food sector nationwide.