Lidl gives a £2m ‘kick start’ to food producers

Thirteen artisan suppliers picked for Kickstart Programme, which will showcase 33 new products

Lidl NI Kickstart programme
Kate O’Driscoll, supplier development manager at Lidl Ireland, and Michael Bell, executive director at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA), with some of the suppliers involved in this year's programme (PHIL SMYTH PHOTO)

Lidl Northern Ireland will give a ‘kick start’ to a new batch of 13 local producers who have successfully earned a place on its coveted Kickstart Supplier Development Programme initiative, in which the retailer has invested more than £2 million to support agri-food producers and facilitate export of home-grown produce through its international store network.

Following a intensive Dragon’s Den-style pitch process and taste-test to find this year’s most innovative products, 13 suppliers were hand-picked for the programme.

Successful producers will now see their artisan offerings, spanning 33 new products, on sale on Lidl’s shelves across its 220 stores across the island of Ireland from September 19 for a limited time.

From delicious overnight oats to farm shop meals and mouth-watering hot sauces, this year’s assortment has a focus on protein packed products and showcase the fruits of Northern Ireland’s apple orchards, with cider, gin and spiced apple punch all in this year’s mix.

Now in its seventh year, Lidl NI’s Kickstart programme ( is backed by the NI Food & Drink Association and aims to support small and medium-sized local producers to boost their brand, enhance their supply and reach new customer audiences.

Before the products hit the shelves, the six-month development programme offers suppliers dedicated business support from Lidl NI’s in-house experts, advancing their product, brand and business with practical guidance on how to scale production, drive production efficiency, as well as product development and packaging support, allowing them to optimise on-shelf opportunities in the autumn and scale for success.

Since launching the programme in the region in 2018, Lidl NI has showcased over 50 innovative home-grown products, offering producers the opportunity to reach over two million weekly Lidl customers in Ireland.

Kate O’Driscoll, supplier development manager at Lidl Ireland, said: “Northern Ireland is famed for its food and drink, and every year I’m impressed by the innovation, quality and craftsmanship that suppliers clearly pour into their products. The standard is always incredibly high and this year was no exception.

“After a competitive application process, I’m delighted to add 13 local suppliers to the Kickstart programme and bring 33 new, locally made products to shoppers across the region.

“Successful suppliers have the opportunity to sell their products within our NI network of 41 stores, but also within our 179 stores located in the Republic, reaching two million weekly shoppers.”

This year’s intake will see products from Bertie’s Bakery, Blackfire Food, Cloughbane Farm Foods, Mrs K Global, Green Fingers Family, Lecale Harvest, Long Meadow Cider, Rosie’s Bakes, SLICED, Armagh Cider Company, Strangford Coffee Roastery, Sweet Robyn’s and Woodlab Distillery hit Lidl Northern Ireland stores this autumn.

Michael Bell, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) executive director said: “We are delighted to team up with Lidl NI to launch its successful Kickstart programme, and to welcome 13 incredible producers from Northern Ireland on board as they embrace this fantastic opportunity to promote their products.

“Securing a place on the programme is a huge achievement for local SME producers, often providing them with a game-changing break into the competitive grocery market along with ongoing business support as they work to fulfil their potential.

“Food and drink is Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing almost £6 billion in value to the region and accounting for more than 20% of total manufacturing employment.

“It’s a huge driver of economic growth and further underscores the need for initiatives such as Lidl Northern Ireland’s Kickstart programme to further grow our agri-food industry and cultivate home-grown suppliers.”