Mary Beary, Taste Kerry; John-Paul O’Connor, Sasta Sausages, Killorglin, Co Kerry; and Ciara McGee, South Cork Enterprise Board; with Amber, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese; at the launch of the Inaugural Cork / Kerry Food Forum. Pic: Neil Danton

MINISTER for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney will join some of Cork and West Cork’s top food industry experts on Monday, October 1st next in the Rochestown Park Hotel for the inaugural Cork/Kerry Food Forum.

THE forum is aimed at SME food producers, buyers, retailers and distributors who are keen to further their knowledge in relation to the opportunities and challenges facing the Irish food sector which is worth more than €20billion to the economy.

 

Organised by Bord Bia, Cork County and City Enterprise Boards, Kerry County Enterprise Board and  Cork County Council, the event will feature a range of information workshops on consumer trends and information on applying for geographical indication (GI) status which protects the names and products originating from a specific geographic location.

 

One-to-one business mentoring slots will also be available for start up business owners as well as a special showcase of more than 50 Kerry and Cork food producers and distributors.

 

In the period 2007-2011, the Cork County and City Enterprise Boards have grant-aided almost 60 food projects and provided specific food training and mentoring to over 250 people, proving that the local food industry continues to soar with high demand for local goods from Irish retailers and restaurants.

 

The artisan and speciality food sector in Ireland currently employs nearly 5,000 people in full and part-time positions with a potential to grow to 7,500 jobs in the next eight years, giving the local economy a further €4.1billion boost.

 

The artisan food industry has also proven itself to be incremental to rural-based employment, food tourism and the development of a stronger image for Irish brands internationally.

 

Guest speakers at the event will include Shaun Doherty, Technical Manager, Fresh Produce & Horticulture, Tesco Ireland, who will speak of the opportunities open to local Irish food companies within Tesco Ireland who sell over €2 billion worth of Irish food products and export more than €655m worth of Irish goods to Tesco stores all over the world.

 

Arun Kapil, Owner of Award winning Cork company Green Saffron Spices will also impart tips on developing a successful Irish food brand and tell guests all they need to know about starting and growing their own food business.

 

Michael Hanley, CEO of West Cork Enterprise Board, said “The food production sector has long been a focus of the Cork and Kerry County & City Enterprise Boards so it makes perfect sense to host a joint event where producers from both sides of the border can come together and learn to grow their businesses.

 

“The Food Forum has been hugely successful attracting over 600 attendees in the last few events and it allows us to highlight different aspects of the industry and aid our local businesses to responding to the challenges they face within the sector. Ireland’s food industry is on the up and such events are vital for the continued growth and nourishment of new entrepreneurial talent in the Cork and Kerry regions to ensure continued success.”

 

 

Ger Power, Head of Finance and Economic Development, Cork County Council comments, “We have been involved in the Food Forum event in previous years and are committed to providing continual support for the food sector throughout the County through the provision of infrastructure and by providing finance through the €1 million Cork County Economic Development Fund.

 

“We have in recent years spent almost €1 million on the upgrade of c.20,000 sq.ft of production space in Fermoy, Carrigaline, Ballincollig, Bandon and Skibbereen to food grade standard. We are also delighted to be re-launching the Cork Food Finder guide at this Forum and to welcome the launch of the Kerry Food Finder guide also.”

 

The Cork/Kerry Food Forum is a completely free event; however, advance event registration is essential.

 

To pre-register for the Cork Food Forum, visit  http://www.wceb.ie/Training-&-Online-Booking alternatively, contact the West Cork Enterprise Board on 023 883 4700.