Big spenders seek food from Northern Ireland

More than 40 Northern Ireland food companies are being given an opportunity by Invest Northern Ireland to pitch for business from four of the UK’s biggest spenders on food.

Invest NI is hosting a two-day buying mission of top procurement executives from leading food service organisations including the National Health Service, Rail Gourmet  and 3663 First for Foodservice. Local companies will be meeting the buyers on a one-to-one basis in Invest NI’s headquarters in Belfast on 18 and 19 April.

A senior buyer from the Co-Op will also be taking part in the meetings with local food companies.

The high-level visit has been organised by Invest NI’s food marketing consultants in England and is the latest in a series of events designed to help local companies to develop contacts from the food service sector.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Division Director, commenting on the event, said: “Together these companies spend upwards of £5 billion annually on food from a broad range of large and small suppliers. Food service in the UK and Republic of Ireland is a huge industry with immense potential for our companies.

“To help our companies access existing and potential opportunities as the industry continues to grow we’ve been focusing significant staff resources to attract buyers from companies such as these four to see for themselves the extent of quality and innovative food here by including Northern Ireland in their visit schedules.

“I am confident that our companies can meet their specific requirements in terms of wholesome products that offer value for money, consistent quality and delivered on time. This event follows a similar ‘meet the buyer’ initiative that targeted food service companies in the Republic earlier in the year,” he added.

3663 First for Food Service spends upwards of £1 billion annually on food  for 50,000 customers, such as restaurants, hotels, canteens and schools, which it services from 40 depots across Great Britain.

Rail Gourmet, part of the Compass Group, supplies food to many of the leading European rail companies including Arriva, Eurostar, Gatwick Express, Virgin Trains and ScotRail in Britain.  The Co-Op spends around £3 billion annually on food for its retail chain.