This year, we’re teaming up with Supervalu Food Academy to showcase some of the best Irish producers making a splash today. Food Academy is a joint initiative between Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Office Network and SuperValu to support small food companies in Ireland.
This year, 30 high performing small food companies will graduate to Food Academy Advance, the next stage of the programme. Food Academy Advance provides these companies with access to expertise in branding, market research, business development and distribution, to allow them to scale up and secure national listings with SuperValu. This combination of both commercial and marketing insight assists in supporting producers through the challenging initial phases of business growth and strengthens their chances of future success.
Speaking at the Food Academy Conference last November, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD said: “Food Harvest 2020 has identified the long term potential of the Irish agri-food industry to support ‘smart, green growth’. Ireland’s artisan food producers are making a valued contribution to this growth. Structured support from Bord Bia and Local Enterprise Offices, in partnership with SuperValu, will ensure that high potential food entrepreneurs can scale their businesses in a sustainable manner, creating jobs and furthering Ireland’s credentials as a food leader both nationally and internationally.”
The results of a research study conducted with Food Academy participants were also launched at the conference. The main findings included:
- Almost 85% of Food Academy participants expect to employ new staff over the next 12 months, with almost a quarter expecting to take on more than 3 new staff during this period;
- Almost half of Food Academy participants expect sales to increase by 50% or more over the next 12 months;
- Approximately 70% of small food producers expect to launch new products during the next twelve months;
- 98% of participants found the Food Academy programme beneficial to their business development;
- Gaining access to finance is the number one priority for Food Academy participants;
- Almost 80% of companies participating on the programme plan to develop their brand through social media.
By virtue of its community retailer model, whereby stores are independently owned by local entrepreneurs, SuperValu is able to give Food Academy participating companies the unique opportunity of starting their journey on a small scale. Participants are able to secure listings with individual stores, helping them grow to a point where they are on a commercial footing to supply a network of stores.
Martin Kelleher, Managing Director of SuperValu, commented: “At SuperValu we are committed to supporting local suppliers and building vibrant communities around Ireland. We are delighted to be able to work hand in hand with budding artisan food producers, providing them with the opportunity to trial their products in local SuperValu stores initially and then grow their partnership with us as they scale their business and supply more SuperValu stores, creating local jobs in the process. As SuperValu stores are independently owned and operated, our retailers are perfectly placed to support suppliers in scaling their business at a sustainable pace. At the same time, it allows our retailers to provide customers with a tailored local offer, stocking products which you cannot buy in other supermarkets.”
What is Food Academy?
Established in 2013, Food Academy is a joint initiative between Bord Bia, the Local Enterprise Office Network and SuperValu to support small food companies in Ireland, help them to grow their businesses sustainably and eventually achieve a retail listing with SuperValu.
About Food Academy Start
- Food Academy Start is designed to assist small startup food producers gain their first retail listings and scale their business
- For the first time, food start-ups regardless of their location have access to a standardised programme of supports throughout the country. The Food Academy Start programme is delivered through workshop style training, and supported by SuperValu in the context of retail expertise and providing a route to market
- As SuperValu stores are independently owned and operated, retailers are able to source directly from suppliers on a one-to-one basis, enabling start-up food businesses to gain their first retail listings in SuperValu stores in their community – a vital first step on their future path to success
- On average each small producer will supply five stores in their local area which will enable them to gain an understanding of how consumers react to their product offer. This in turn will allow them to improve their products with a view to growing distribution with SuperValu
- In September 85 food startups began selling their products in 133 SuperValu stores around the country
About Food Academy Advance
Food Academy Advance is the next stage of the Food Academy programme. It provides these companies with access to expertise in branding, market research, business development and distribution, to allow them to scale up and secure national listings with SuperValu. This combination of both commercial and marketing insight assists in supporting producers through the challenging initial phases of business growth and strengthens their chances of future success.