Innovative products will be among the biggest-ever presentation of food and drink from Northern Ireland on show at the International Food Exhibition (IFE) at Excel in London from 18-21 March 2007.
Invest Northern Ireland is helping thirty companies to display a broad range of natural food and drink in the IFE Northern Ireland Pavilion. This represents a three-fold increase in the average number of local companies participating in IFE.
New launches scheduled for the international food and drink showcase include organic fruit and cereal snacks, healthy fruit drinks, steamed vegetables and selenium-enriched mushrooms, in response to the growing consumer demand for foods that combine wholesomeness and taste.
As well as new ideas for the retail and vending sectors, Northern Ireland companies will also be showing innovative products and new packaging ideas for food service, bakery and manufacturing operations.
Many of the companies already supply the UK and Irish multiples with a range of branded and own label products. Others have contracts with independent retailers and food service businesses. Among the Northern Ireland group are several companies which took part in IFE 2005.
Ian Murphy, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Clients and Entrepreneurship, says: “We’ve always had a presence at IFE because it’s an excellent show which works well for Northern Ireland companies in terms of contacts made and the business generated during the event and from leads followed up.
“The strength of our offering at IFE is an indication of the growth in our food and drink industry. Established companies are moving into different products and we are seeing the emergence of a cluster of smaller businesses with new ideas for high growth sectors such as organic and natural foods and drink.
“Food and drink in Northern Ireland is a vibrant industry that is harnessing the region’s natural environment to develop quality and wholesome products. It’s also an industry with a strong export focus and a commitment to excellent customer services.
“Our goal is to assist the industry to realise its enormous potential. The statistics show the strength of the industry’s commitment to the local economy. Almost 450 companies had sales in 2005 of £2.5 billion. The industry contributed 18.9 per cent of Northern Ireland’s total manufacturing sales and employs almost 19,000 people, around a fifth of the total workforce in manufacturing.
“Furthermore, the industry contributed 15 per cent of external sales to Great Britain and was the regions third largest manufacturing exporter. It was, in addition, the single largest contributor to Northern Ireland’s Gross Value Added in 2004,” he adds.
IFE is one of the biggest events in the world food industry calendar. The Northern Ireland pavilion will feature round-the-clock food samples cooked by two leading chefs, Sean Owens and Diana Porter. Invitations have also been issued to key buyers from major food retailers and foodservices companies.