Drive to create more food business in North Cork

The North Cork Enterprise Board, through its role in developing, encouraging, and supporting local enterprises, has specifically identified the Food Business Sector as a strong performing part of the local economy, in the face of challenging economic conditions. The Local Food Business Sector is an area with great potential for the development of start-up enterprises and the further enhancement of existing enterprises.

The North Cork Enterprise Board continues to encou-rage and support both start up and existing SME’s to modernise and develop, to embrace the latest trends and developments in the sector and to ensure that they keep pace with continuously evolving practices within the sector. Over the past two years in particular, the Board has provided a range of new initiatives to support and encourage local entre-preneurs to maximise opportunities within the Local Food Business Sector.

According to Michael Hanley, Manager of the North Cork Enterprise Board, “Opportunities are continuing to present themselves in the niche food sector and with proper research and preparation, promoters of new food ventures have every chance of success. We are actively engaged with several new and existing niche operations that are planning to launch new products within the immediate future.”

As part of their strategy, the NCEB established the North Cork Food Forum Network which presented food companies within the North Cork catchment area with an opportunity to showcase their products and to meet with buyers to provide critique and opportunity. Two of these Food Forum events have taken place to date with very positive results being achieved by participants.

The cost of providing food grade facilities has been an obstacle to the establishment of new ventures in a lot of cases. To overcome this, the NCEB has partnered with Cork County Council to develop specialised Food Units in Fermoy, providing ready to go facilities for start up food companies. These facilities are finished to food grade standard and are designed to fast-track new start up ventures.

The Advanced Food Pro-gramme, an initiative pioneered by the Cork Enterprise Boards, for companies who have been trading for eighteen months or more, was delivered by the Board in Charleville for ten existing businesses to help and support them in driving their ventures forward. The Programme concentrates on product development, branding and access to the multiples. It has achieved excellent results for participants and will be rolled out in other North Cork locations in the future.

Recognising the important role that social media is now playing in marketing, the NCEB recently held a seminar on PR and Social Media for Food Businesses. Its purpose was to provide techniques to help food producers prepare effective press releases to promote their business mission, products and services. Emphasis was placed on the impact of visuals, how high quality professional photo-graphy in the traditional print media can enhance the marketing and promotion of the business, along with the presentation of product and services. The importance of Social Media as an adver-tising tool was highlighted, through the use of vehicles such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, popular opportunities to spread the message far and wide.

Michael Hanley stated that the NCEB will continue to support and provide further training and up-skilling opportunities for Food processing businesses in North Cork. Mr Hanley further stated that whether the business is targeting the local, national or export markets, the NCEB have relevant support services in place that can make a substantial difference to a food business.

Amongst the successful food businesses that have benefited from the help and support of the initiatives offered through the NCEB, are Horgan’s Fresh Fish, Mallow, Nibbles Food Emporium, Millstreet, Green Valley Dairy, Mitchelstown, Cen Foods, Fermoy, Uncle Bobs, Kanturk, and Fermoy Cheese.