Invest NI companies prosper from food focus

At least £10 million worth of new business has already resulted from the participation of Northern Ireland companies in two major food industry initiatives organised by Invest Northern Ireland over the past six months.

Total business won by companies taking part in the International Food Exhibition (IFE) in London and following a visit to Northern Ireland by a group of Italian meat buyers was announced today by Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Food.

“Our follow-up research indicates that most of the 28 companies which took part in the event on the Invest NI pavilion at IFE, secured worthwhile business and many of the 12 meat processors involved in the recent Italian inward mission are negotiating substantive repeat orders. Some meat processors have already supplied products to Italian buyers as a direct result of the recent mission,” Mr Mawhinney said.

“The two events represented major investments by us in terms of both funding and time. Our pavilion at IFE was the biggest-ever presentation of Northern Ireland food and drink at an international food industry event.

“Encouragingly, companies across most sectors secured leads that have already produced worthwhile business. Orders from IFE currently stand at almost £6 million and we anticipate that this figure will rise above £10 million before the end of this year.

“I am very confident that further business will flow for the companies from these initiatives and other marketing activities over the next 12 months,” he added.

Mr Mawhinney said smaller food companies had also secured contracts from other events such as the St Patrick’s Day fair in London’s Covent Garden and ‘meet the buyer’ events organised by Invest NI in the Irish Republic including Tesco Ireland and Superquinn.

“In addition, initiatives planned by us over the next six months will offer food and drink companies significant opportunities to increase business outside Northern Ireland.

“Planned activities include a major Northern Ireland presence at the Speciality Food and Drink Show in London; Food on the Move in London, SHOP– Food and Drink Exhibition, Dublin, both in September; and ANUGA international food exhibition in Cologne in October,” Mr Mawhinney said.

Food and drink companies, he added, were benefiting from Invest NI’s strategic focus and practical support to expand business outside Northern Ireland.

“Encouraging sales outside Northern Ireland is one of the pillars underpinning our approach to food and drink processing. In addition to providing companies with marketing programmes that can increase export sales knowledge and capability, firms can also access support to develop innovative products and services that strengthen their overall competitiveness in fast moving markets,” he added.