Foster reinforces importance of multiples to local food sector

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today highlighted the importance of the retail multiple supply chain to the Northern Ireland food sector.

The Minister was speaking as she met Sainsbury’s Retail and Logistics Director Roger Burnley in Belfast. Sainsbury’s currently sources in the region of £250million of food products from Northern Ireland suppliers annually. At the meeting, the company announced details of a new contract with its latest local supplier, Dungannon-based Mackle Foods, which will see its range of pet treats sold in 600 of Sainsbury’s UK stores.

Arlene Foster said: “Food manufacturing is now one of our strongest industry sectors having continued to grow, particularly in export markets, despite the continued impact of the economic downturn.

“Employing around 19,000 people in local processing plants, mainly in rural communities, it is a sector which we must continue to support and grow if we are to secure future employment and investment opportunities.”

Congratulating Mackle Pet Foods on winning the Sainsbury’s contract, the Minister added: “The contract awarded to Mackle Pet Foods is a major boost for the Dungannon firm which will support new and existing employment.

“Sainsbury’s currently sources in excess of £250million of produce from Northern Ireland suppliers annually. This is an impressive and welcome commitment, which we will continue to build upon by supporting companies as they engage in product development activities.”

Arlene Foster concluded: “Invest Northern Ireland has been particularly active in organising meet the buyer initiatives and has forged strong links with the retail multiples to help local firms access business opportunities and become part of the supply chain.

“The growth of the multiples has been a significant factor in the success of the food sector and Northern Ireland has benefited from the growing focus on regional sourcing, as well as the associated employment."