Pitching for food business on the high seas

Six Northern Ireland companies have pitched for new business at a unique marketing event on board the 80,000-ton P&O cruise liner Arcadia. They were assisted with funding from Invest Northern Ireland and the Food Strategy Implementation Partnership to take part in the three-day Catering and Hospitality Forum with over 200 buyers from top UK food and catering organisations.


nvest NI marketed a range of Northern Ireland food and drink products during the event, on the Arcadia, presenting goods made by over 60 Northern Ireland companies at 35 meetings. The Northern Ireland delegation collectively had over 200 meetings in three days.

The participating companies were: Pritchitts, Newtownards, a manufacturer of long-life milk and other dairy products; Rich Sauces, Newtownards, a producer of sauces and mayonnaise; Johnsons, Lisburn, a coffee roaster; Glens of Antrim, Ballycastle, a leading potato processor; Irwin’s Bakery, Craigavon, one of Northern Ireland’s leading bakers; and Davison Canners, Dungannon, a supplier of bramley apple-based compotes.

During the three-day cruise from Southampton to the Channel Islands each company secured dozens of appointments through formal pre-arranged meetings, speed-dating sessions, and  detailed presentations as well as informal breakfast, lunch and dinner engagements with potential buyers.

Products from the companies were also used in a novel Food Court which featured meals by the poolside prepared by P&O’s highly skilled team of chefs.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Director of Food, commented on the event, saying: “Our participation in the Arcadia event is a further example of our focus on offering our food and drink companies as many opportunities as possible to sell their products outside Northern Ireland in this case to the lucrative foodservice market.

“It was the first time that we’ve organised a group of local companies to take part in the Arcadia event, one of the most unusual in the food calendar but which also draws high profile buyers because it is such a different occasion.

“The primary function of these forums is to match buyers and sellers at a senior level. For participants the event enables them to network with their peers, attend conference sessions to update themselves on the latest industry thinking and meet with suppliers who can help them develop their business.

“The event allows them to pre-schedule meetings with selected senior decision-makers making it a very effective use of their time. The condensed nature of the event itself allowed Northern Ireland companies to achieve a series of meetings in a few days that might otherwise take months or even years,” he adds.