A business programme aimed at helping small food and drink producers to export sales and link to new customers in GB and ROI markets has been launched.
The Food Heartland Export Support Programme, funded by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council will support 15 small (no more than 10 employees) food and drink producers located within the borough, who are export ready, with all the necessary support they need to take their products outside of Northern Ireland.
“Throughout 2016 we have worked hard to promote our Borough as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland. Utilising the NI Year of Food and Drink, and our fantastic partnerships, we are gaining regional recognition for the high quality and great taste of our products and the innovative people who work in the sector.”Roger Wilson, Chief Executive for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council
Utilising the NI Year of Food and Drink and the borough’s growing reputation for top quality food and drink products and producers, through recent awards such as the Great Taste Awards, the council continues to demonstrate its commitment to maximising and building on opportunities by showcasing the thriving agri-food sector across NI and beyond as well as maximising the potential of its number one priority - growing the local economy.
The Food Heartland Export Support programme, running from September 2016 – October 2017, will provide 15 small businesses, from within the borough, with practical support and bespoke mentoring, export strategy development, access to industry buyers and stakeholder workshops.
Participants will also benefit from attending prestigious trade shows both in Ireland and GB as well as benefitting from the council’s partnerships with experienced marketing consultants, Invest Northern Ireland, IntertradeIreland, Southern Regional College and Food NI.
Speaking at the launch Chief Executive for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Roger Wilson said: “Throughout 2016 we have worked hard to promote our Borough as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland. Utilising the NI Year of Food and Drink, and our fantastic partnerships, we are gaining regional recognition for the high quality and great taste of our products and the innovative people who work in the sector.
“The Food Heartland brand is now widely recognised across the borough and further afield as a brand of excellence. However we need to be looking to the future and continue our focus on our priority area of growing the local economy.
“The Food Heartland Export Programme is an excellent programme which will benefit 15 small food and drinks businesses to grow beyond NI. It will support and showcase businesses under the Food Heartland brand as well as provide access to potential new customers at a number of national trade shows in ROI and GB.
“We already know how great our local food and drink is but with the support of The Food Heartland Export Programme we can let others know that too.”
Councillor Garath Keating, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough added: “The Food Heartland Export Programme is an excellent opportunity for 15 businesses to help us to continue with our commitment to showcasing our thriving agri-food sector not just locally, but further afield.
“We are committed to ensuring a legacy for our agri-food sector and we know that many of our smaller food and drinks producers are also ambitious and ready to take their business to the next level. The Food Heartland Export Programme will help to achieve this aim.
“With access to expert mentoring, guidance, support and partnerships - I would urge all small food producers in the borough to seize this fantastic opportunity and consider taking part and help us grow our local economy together.”
Brian Irwin, from Irwin’s Bakery and Local Food Ambassador, said: “The Food Heartland Export programme is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to understand the process of taking their business to the export market.
“This excellent programme will not only provide all the necessary advice and support required but will put businesses in contact with businesses, like mine, who can offer practical advice on what it takes to achieve export success.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity and I commend Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for this support as well as for their ongoing commitment to developing and growing our borough.”
Applications for the Food Heartland Export Programme are limited to 15 places and will close on Friday 9th September at 5pm. Interested businesses from the borough can complete an application form online at www.foodheartland.com or contact Lara Goodall Consulting on 028 9083 9205.