Asda commits to Year of Food & Drink with launch of Supplier Development Academy

Michele Shirlow, CEO Food NI and Joe McDonald, Asda's Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Northern Ireland.
Michele Shirlow, CEO Food NI and Joe McDonald, Asda's Senior Manager, Corporate Affairs, Northern Ireland.
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Asda Northern Ireland is the first major supermarket here to announce its support and commitment to Year of Food & Drink 2016 with the launch of a bespoke training and development programme for its suppliers.

The year-long food-focused event provides the perfect backdrop for Asda’s Supplier Development Academy (SDA) which will reinforce its already strong relationship with NI’s agri-food sector and help to build on the £300 million of products it annually sources from local food and drink companies.

The Academy, which is backed by Invest NI and Scotland Food & Drink, will be open to a number of Asda’s key suppliers. Running over a four month period it has the potential to boost each participant’s trading potential by up to 30%, promote innovation, develop key skills and streamline bureaucracy and administration.

In addition to the SDA, the supermarket is rolling out a programme of activity which will offer both its local supply base and its customers the chance to embrace the many opportunities which Year of Food presents to those who are hungry to enhance NI’s reputation for food excellence.

To reflect the focus on food quality and product innovation, Asda will also open its doors to potential new suppliers by hosting a series of ‘Meet the Buyer’ events in regional towns throughout NI. These will offer smaller, artisan food producers the chance to ‘pitch’ their wares to the buying team and discover what it takes to supply a large multiple retailer.

Customers will also be able to benefit from Asda’s support for Year of Food with a number of local food-focused events scheduled for each of its 16 stores. These include ‘Great Taste of Northern Ireland’ promotions, a year-long local food sampling programme, a major presence at The Balmoral Show, a schools engagement programme, and sponsorship of the hugely successful Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend.

Michael McCallion, Asda’s Head of Local Sourcing for Northern Ireland and Scotland said: “We’ve always been totally upfront about our commitment to NI’s food sector and Year of Food provides the ideal platform to raise the bar – from both a supplier and a consumer perspective. We’re proud to be taking a lead and relish the chance to further boost the reputation of food, farming and retail in NI.”