Invest NI campaign to boost food exports to France

A multi-faceted drive to help local food companies win business in France is being launched by Invest Northern Ireland over the next six months. Already planned is a major presentation of local food and drink at the SIAL exhibition in Paris and a visit to Northern Ireland by a delegation of top buyers from French grocery and food services companies.

Twenty companies are visiting SIAL 2008, the world’s biggest food and drink showcase, with Invest NI from 19-23 October. They will be taking part in a series of events in the French capital including:

  • One day visit to SIAL, using the exhibition as a base location

  • Overview / presentation of retail and food service market by experts lined up by Invest NI and Food from Britain including Lafayette Gourmet

  • Guided visits to retail outlets with buyers / store managers

  • Group meetings with supermarket buyers to understand purchasing requirements

The follow-up inward initiative for French buyers will take place over two days in January and will allow local companies which have participated in the events surrounding SIAL to have one-to-one meetings with selected buyers here at Invest NI’s headquarters in Belfast.

The initiative has been developed jointly by Invest NI’s Food and Trade divisions.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, commenting on the programme, said: “France is one of Europe’s biggest and most discerning markets for food and drink products. In 2007, for example, the market was worth around £120 billion and was dominated by retail spending. The country also imports food and drink worth over £20 billion annually, the UK supplying around six per cent.

“Around 80 per cent of purchases are now made in the nation’s extensive network of hypermarkets and supermarkets. Foodservices is worth around £43 billion annually, with the key growing product sectors being sandwiches and snacks, semi-prepared and prepared meals, drinks, seafood, value-added meat and poultry, and ethnic food.

“Our research shows there are opportunities for Northern Ireland companies in sectors such as:

  • Own label, which accounts for around 28 per cent of the total food and drink sales

  • Groceries (savory, snack food, sauces), the frozen sector (ready meals, desserts), chilled products, as well as ethnic cuisine

  • Traditional classics from the UK

  • Innovative products particularly for snacking and convenience.

“The focus on France is essentially an extension of similar initiatives that we’ve already taken in Scandinavia, Italy and Spain with the red meat companies. In France we are widening out to include companies across a broad range of sectors using the ‘meet the buyer’ approach that is working well for companies with leading retailers in the UK and Republic of Ireland.”

Northern Ireland Companies taking part in the Invest NI initiatives around SIAL in Paris from 19-23 October 2008

Allied Bakeries, Belfast – bread and morning goods

ABP, Lurgan – beef and lamb

Dale Farm Dairies, Belfast – milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt

Deli Lites, Warrenpoint – sandwiches and wraps

Ditty’s Bakery, Castledawson – oat cakes

Dunbia, Dungannon – beef and lamb

Foyle Chipping, Londonderry – fruit and vegetables

Golden Cow, Portadown – butter and cheese

Good4U, Cookstown – healthy snack foods

Greenfields Ireland, Belfast – dairy products

Hewitt Meats, Loughgall – beef and lamb

Kestrel Foods, Craigavon – dried fruit and nut snacks

Linden Foods, Dungannon – beef and lamb

Millar Savoury Foods, Eglinton – snack and convenience foods

Pritchitts Foods, Newtownards – milk and cream products

Norbev, Ballymena – contract bottling of minerals and water

Omagh Meats, Omagh – beef and lamb

Ready Eggs, Lisnaskea - eggs

TMC Dairies, Strabane – milk powder

In addition, Moy Park, Dale Farm and Pritchitts Foods have stands at the SIAL exhibition.