Invest NI forges food links with Scotland

Invest Northern Ireland is increasing support for local food and drink companies wishing to develop business in Scotland. The new marketing drive includes the appointment of a dedicated trade advisor to help companies identify and exploit opportunities in Scotland.

In addition, Invest NI is linking up with the newly formed Scotland Food and Drink organisation and Scottish Enterprise in a number of mutually beneficial areas including licensing and packaging.

The initiatives follow meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh between Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Food, Paul McLaughlin, Scotland Food and Drink Chief Executive and Maggie McGinlay, Director of Food at Scottish Enterprise. Scotland Food and Drink is an industry-led membership organisation which aims to provide a collective approach to strengthening the Scottish food and drinks industry.

Invest NI also works alongside Bord Bia, the Irish Republic’s food board, and Food from Britain in developing opportunities for Northern Ireland food and drink.

Mr Mawhinney, Director of Food at Invest NI, speaking after the meetings, said “These discussions form an important part of our desire to forge West-East links, as well as those we already have North-South.

“There are significant opportunities for Invest NI, Scottish Enterprise and Scotland Food & Drink to work together for the mutual advantage of our respective food and drinks industries. As a result of these meetings we are now working on developing joint solutions to problems faced by the industry and I look forward to working with our Scottish colleagues.

“I am also very pleased to announce the appointment by Invest NI of a Food Market Advisor for Scotland.  As well as being a gateway to the rest of Great Britain, the Scottish market also has natural synergies with Northern Ireland.  In his new post as Food Market Advisor for Scotland, Karl Devlin, who having run his own food company has extensive experience of the industry, will work with our local food businesses to increase sales into Scotland. This appointment builds on the success of our food advisors in England and the Republic of Ireland.”

Invest NI has two dedicated food market advisors in England and one focused on the Republic of Ireland market.

A new quality control scheme, SALSA, is also being introduced by Invest NI following the round of meetings. Invest NI is teaming up with quality organisation SFQC on SALSA to help local and regional food and drink producers to supply their products to national and regional buyers.

Mr Mawhinney added: “We see SALSA as a key stepping stone for our small food manufacturers and will pilot the scheme in Northern Ireland during the year.”