Invest Northern Ireland is helping fourteen local food and drink companies to bid for new business from ASDA’s top buyers in Leeds. The companies will visit the retailer’s headquarters in Leeds on 11 February.
ASDA, the United Kingdom’s third largest retailer, spent over £70 million last year in sourcing a broad range of products from Northern Ireland suppliers. The retailer has invested £230 million in food and drink products since moving into Northern Ireland in 2005.
Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI Food Director, commenting on the latest ‘meet the buyer’ event, said: “ASDA has indicated plans to purchase more food and drink from our suppliers for its stores in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
“We have been working with local ASDA management over several years to encourage sourcing from local suppliers and have received a very positive response from the team here. This has led to many products from our companies being listed in ASDA’s GB stores
“As part of our longstanding strategic focus on assisting our companies to pursue and secure sales in markets outside Northern Ireland, we decided to approach top management to enable our businesses to present directly to the principal buyers at ASDA headquarters in Leeds. The response was immensely encouraging.
“The event at ASDA House will also give our companies an opportunity to build relationships with the buyers that could assist them in key activities such as product innovation and new packaging. The contribution they make in promoting and facilitating the sort of export market-led innovation, which is at the heart of Invest NI’s business growth strategy, cannot be over-estimated.
“Several local companies, for example, are also now part of ASDA’s highly successful Chosen by You own-brand range. I am confident that other local companies will become part of this important initiative.
“Major supermarkets like ASDA source around £1 billion annually from local suppliers and are making a crucially important contribution to our agri-food industry, which is worth over £3 billion to the local economy,” added Mr Mawhinney.
ASDA, owned by Wal-Mart in the US, the world’s biggest retailer since 2003, has 15 supermarkets and one Asda Living store in Northern Ireland and recently announced plans to invest a further £100 million in its Northern Ireland store network. It currently employs 4,500 people here. Last year, ASDA also acquired over 100 Netto budget stores in Britain in a £778 million deal.
Invest NI Food Sector Marketing Advisers have also been working with Netto in promoting local food and drink suppliers.