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Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney, T.D. today at the Cork and Kerry Food Forum announced that food business startups plan to create 300 new jobs within 12 months, after receiving listings with their local SuperValu stores.

The small food businesses secured the listings following their participation in the Food Academy Start programme, a collaboration between Bord Bia, SuperValu and Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). Despite their size, companies have been able to secure listings with SuperValu.

As stores are independently owned and operated, SuperValu retailers are able to source directly from local suppliers on a one-to-one basis, enabling these start-up food businesses to gain their first retail listings in stores in their community. SuperValu is also working with the companies involved to get their products listed in a cluster of nearby stores in order to set them on a long term path to supplying their network of 223 stores.

Speaking at the Cork and Kerry Food Forum at City Hall Cork, a showcase of food producers from Cork & Kerry, Minister Coveney stated: “Ireland’s artisan and specialty food industry is playing a unique and important role in our economic recovery. This is evidenced today by the dynamic growth in food startups and food production companies. The opportunity to support and drive this growth has been leveraged by development agencies including Bord Bia and Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in partnership with SuperValu, to ensure that food businesses in Ireland are equipped with the appropriate information, advice and skills to be shelf ready. These planned 300 jobs are predominantly in enterprises employing fewer than five people, mostly in start-up food businesses in urban and rural areas, and will further enhance the reputation of our food sector nationally and internationally.”

The announcement was made at the largest artisan food market, the Cork and Kerry Food Forum, which hosted a trade conference attended by over 400 food industry representatives, a showcase and food market with tastings and cookery demonstrations for more than 1,000 members of the public, who turned up to support local producers.

Speaking at the event, Martin Kelleher, SuperValu Managing Director, said: “At SuperValu, we are delighted to announce, that through our partnership with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices on the Food Academy Start programme, more than 200 small food businesses will work with their local SuperValu retailers, resulting in sales worth €5 million in the next year and leading to the creation of 300 jobs.”

“This initiative is a natural fit for SuperValu as our stores are independently owned by retailers who have developed a tailored offer for their community. As a result, they can offer products that are not available in supermarket chains as our retail partners have the freedom to purchase directly from local suppliers.”

“By matching our stores with start-up food businesses in their area, we have been able to assist with the creation of three hundred jobs across Ireland. This underlines the local multiplier effect of the community retail model, as every time someone shops in our stores, their money goes back into the local economy.”

Welcoming the jobs announcement today, Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia commented “Selection and participation in the Food Academy Start programme provides artisan food producers with direct access to expertise in branding, market research, purchasing, packaging and retail distribution. This invaluable insight helps support small companies through the challenging initial phases of growth and greatly enhances their chances of market success. It is encouraging to see the positive and tangible benefits of the programme resulting in job creation at a local and national level and delivering sales of €5 million.”

“The Local Enterprise Offices have been working closely with food startups and producers on the ground, to directly support these micro-enterprises and help them to grow”, explained Joe Burke, LEO South Cork. “Today’s Food Forum brings together food producers, Bord Bia, our retail partners SuperValu and the general public, to join together in a celebration of our thriving artisan industry.”

Jason Colbert, Managing Director of Bitesize, added: “The Food Academy Start programme has given me a route to market which otherwise would not have been open to me. The expert retail knowledge and food marketing expertise which SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Boards provide to businesses as part of the programme are key to helping small food businesses get off their feet and grow sustainably. To have the opportunity to work with and supply the SuperValu stores in my area is great for my business and as a result I’ll be employing 5 to 6 more staff members to meet these new orders.”

SuperValu serves over 2.6 million customers every week and now has 223 stores nationwide. 75% of everything on SuperValu’s shelves is sourced or produced in Ireland. SuperValu sources locally wherever possible and purchases almost €2 billion worth of goods from Irish suppliers which help to sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy. SuperValu was recently recognised as the best promoter of Irish products ahead of any other grocery retailer, according to the ‘Where We Shop 2014’ research study by Checkout and Ignite Research.

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