Artisan food producers sought for ‘Journey To Market’

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The agri-food sector is big business and now ten new artisan food producers from across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area, will have the chance of free, practical support from the Journey to Market Programme.

Running from January to March, the aim of the programme is to give budding entrepreneurs the skills needed to set up and grow their own artisan food producing business with help developing, marketing and test trading their products.

“The Causeway Coast and Glens area is rich in natural resources and is a perfect place for establishing an artisan food business. We have many outstanding agri-food companies in our borough already and this is an important initiative to boost the local economy and our burgeoning tourist industry by offering quality, fresh handmade produce,” said the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan.

The programme will include one to one expert mentoring to help businesses develop their ideas and assist with the product development as well as help developing a business plan. There will be workshops aimed at building expertise in innovation, selling skills, customer service, visual merchandising and marketing.

It will also include a knowledge clinic to meet with industry stakeholders such as funders and industry specialists as well as a meet the buyer event to provide participants with the opportunity to sell to the local food service sector and distributors.

There will be best practice visits and the programme will finish with a local showcase test trade event.

Past participants of the Journey to Market Programme have gone on to successfully start new businesses. Dara and Ciara O’Hartghaile from Ursa Minor Bakehouse attended the programme earlier this year and have now gone on to open a café in Ballycastle as well as attending many food fairs and supplying baked goods to other businesses.

Dara said the Journey to Market programme was invaluable in improving their business skills.

“I am more of a hands-on baker than a businessman so Journey to Market helped me focus on what I need to do to run a viable business. We have had a very successful first year and now we have to look at expanding, taking on more staff without compromising our organic ingredients,” he said.

The programme is due to start in January but the deadline for applications is 5.00pm on 17th December 2015. For more information, or an application form, please contact Lara Goodall on 07793388343,