Tesco board enjoys Northern Ireland food and drink at unique showcase

Pictured at the Northern Ireland food and drink showcase held at the Tesco HQ in England, left, Cliff Kells, Tesco Northern Ireland Commercial Manager, Sir Terry Leahy, Tesco, Chief Executive, and Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director.  The event was organised by Invest Northern Ireland in conjunction with Tesco.

Tesco’s top decision makers, including retiring Chief Executive Sir Terry Leahy and Richard Brasher, the new Chief Executive for the UK and Republic of Ireland, have experienced local food and drink at a unique showcase organised by Invest Northern Ireland at the retailer’s headquartersin Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.

Twenty one Northern Ireland companies supplied food and drink for a special buffet lunch for TescoDirectors.Top executives from the Northern Ireland companies were also on hand to meet directors at the heart of the £57 billion business, now the world’s third biggest retailer with a presence in 14 countries.

The showcase was the first-everattendedby the Tesco board for a UK region. The decision to set up the presentation and lunch, which was supervised by celebrity chef Paul Rankin, was the result of a joint initiative by Invest NI’s Food Marketing Team and Cliff Kells, Commercial Manager for Tescoin Northern Ireland.

Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director, commenting on the showcase, said: “We greatly appreciate the very positive response from Tesco top management to our approach to set up an event which provided unprecedented access for our companies to key decision makers.

“It provided our companies with an ideal platform to demonstrate the quality, provenance and innovation which underpins local food and drink, now a £3 billion industry that is focused on growing sales outside Northern Ireland.

“Tesco makes a massive contribution to theagri-food industry throughout Northern Ireland and is probably its biggest single customer, currently spending £480 million annually on almost 2,000 food and drink products from 92 local suppliers. In addition, over 9,000local people are employed by Tesco here.

“Another and immensely important contribution to local food industry is made by the Tesco technical team in the work the members do with existing and potential suppliers in developing new products, packaging and labelling that meet the needs and aspirations of customers and are also in line with increasingly exacting environmental regulations and requirements.

“This dedication of Tesco management in Northern Ireland to sourcing products and services from a range of local suppliers also benefits more than 3,000 farmers here who supply the company with quality beef including over 750 who provide farm quality assured Tesco Finest Aberdeen Angus Beef to the retailer’s meat counters across Northern Ireland,”he added.