£8 million food and drink legacy generated by local firms

Celebrating the £8 million ‘NI Year of Food & Drink’ legacy, generated by local food companies are Alastair Hamilton, Invest NI chief executive, Lee Morrow, Morrow Foods and George Rankin, director Asda NI

ELEVEN local food and drink companies have benefited from a combined £8 million sales boost after participating in a bespoke training and development programme led by Asda.

The Supplier Development Academy (SDA), which is backed by Invest NI was the cornerstone of Asda's commitment to Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink (2016).

The programme offered companies the chance to enhance trading skills and maximise sales opportunities over a 12 month period and involved innovation workshops, supply chain sessions, mentoring, and head-office visits.

All participating companies achieved significant growth with sales across the smaller suppliers increasing by over 10 per cent year-on-year. Much of the success was attributed to the introduction of new innovative product lines.

Cavanagh Free Range Eggs from Fermanagh was a particular success story, with sales up by over 750 per cent over the last year.

Morrow Foods from Newtownards was another to benefit, reporting an annual sales increase of 31 per cent, driven by the introduction of a new line of ready-meals.

The programme also offered participating companies the opportunity to explore export potential for their branded ranges with the longer-term goal of being stocked in Asda's stores in Great Britain.

Senior director of Asda NI, George Rankin said the academy shows the retailer's commitment to the local agri-food sector.

“NI Year of Food & Drink 2016 presented the perfect chance to create a legacy for the future. Our SDA is one very tangible way in which we can work closely with our key suppliers, helping to cement trading relationships and tap into opportunities to develop sales – not only locally, but through our stores across the UK."

Chief executive of Invest NI, Alastair Hamilton added:

"Northern Ireland produce is desired and much sought after across the UK and Europe. NI's Year of Food and Drink campaign helped to reinforce the provenance, traceability, quality and heritage of local products. The results of Asda's Supplier Development Academy demonstrates the appetite which exists for Northern Ireland food and drink."

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