Hosting visits by retailers and foodservice organisations is an immensely important element in Invest NI’s marketing strategy by our Food Sector and Trade teams to assist the faster growth of our £4.5 billion food and drink industry.
Our Meet the Buyer events, have, so far this year, helped over 600 companies to showcase their products to international buyers including major UK retailers, Great Britain foodservice companies as well as leading Republic of Ireland, European and Middle East buying organisations.
Web grocer OCADO, which sells 171 Northern Ireland food products on its site, was among the 43 buyers to attend a recent celebration event hosted by the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell. The occasion was an opportunity to highlight the achievements of local businesses recognised by Great Taste Awards, Irish Quality Food Awards and Blas na hEireann in 2015.
Invest NI's longstanding strategic focus to assist companies win business abroad and the very practical support we provide to our food and drink companies, both large and small, is making an impact. Last year, with our help, food and drink companies secured £23 million of new sales with first time customers.
70 per cent of our food and drink products are sold to markets outside Northern Ireland, much in the form of own label products in the high street retailers or in the foodservice sector. It’s important that the Northern Ireland proposition continues to be presented in key global markets where premium prices can be achieved.
Invest NI will continue to play its part in helping local businesses to maximise the commercial opportunities available through sales to GB and exporting to markets including Republic of Ireland, US and the Middle East.
Over the next four weeks over 40 food buyers representing Great Britain, Republic of Ireland and Spanish retail and foodservice buyer groups will meet over 120 local companies.
We encourage food and drink companies to use the 2016 Year of Food and Drink as a platform to showcase their products and win new business.