Eight local food companies are being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to grow their business by means of licensing deals in the US.
Six of the eight companies will be in the US from 31st March to 4th April for a series of one-to-one meetings with food processors there seeking to penetrate the huge European marketplace. The remaining two Northern Ireland companies will be travelling to the US at a later date to meet with potential partners.
Invest NI has lined up meetings with US food businesses for each participating company. Most of the meetings will take place in New York, with conference calls and flying visits if necessary to companies based further afield.
Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI’s Food Director, commenting on the initiative, says: “The objective is to introduce our food processing companies to US businesses interested in selling licenses to manufacture their products, or a license for a unique process, in Europe or the UK/Ireland.
“Such arrangements offer the US companies a low risk market entry channel into Europe by means of an established and successful processing business in Northern Ireland. In return our Northern Ireland companies can get a new product or process with a much faster speed to market than if they were to go through the product development process themselves.
“This could potentially introduce a number of new products/processes to Northern Ireland and encourage our companies to focus on new product development. All the participating companies have significant manufacturing capability and experience that could produce tangible benefits for US businesses.
“This is a new initiative in our drive to encourage and assist many more of our food processing companies to do better business by exploring opportunities to develop new products either in-house or by means of forming external partnerships in the US and other markets.
“Such partnerships enable them to pool resources and knowledge to develop opportunities in wider markets.
“We’ve been encouraged by the response to this initiative from a broad cross-section of the local food processing industry. Most sectors are represented in the group going to the US, reflecting the growing recognition of the need to look at new products and processes that could bring greater success in export markets.
“It also makes the link between marketing, trade and innovation and is one of a series of key initiatives designed to add value to the food sector,” he adds.
Northern Ireland companies taking part in the US business development initiative
Antrim Hills, Ballyclare – spring water
C&J Meats, Armagh – chilled and frozen beef
Dale Farm Dairies, Belfast – dairy products and ingredients
Evron Foods, Craigavon – chilled and part baked breads
Kestrel Foods, Craigavon – snack nuts, dried fruits and seeds
McCann's Apples, Craigavon – apples and juices
Millar Savoury Foods, Eglinton – convenience foods
Tenderlean, Derrylin – beef, lamb and pizzas