Sourcing local food ingredients cuts down on waste, survey finds

LOCAL food ingredients enhance satisfaction levels among customers, delivering “empty plates” and savings on waste, according to a Good Food Ireland membership survey.

This pro-local response from the Food, Agriculture and Hospitality survey will be discussed at the group’s annual awards ceremony and inaugural conference on Monday in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin.

Members said local produce can cost a little more, but superior quality delivers more repeat business. GFI member Brian Fallon, owner of Fallons Restaurant in Kilcullen, Co Kildare, said: “When we joined Good Food Ireland, they demanded we meet criteria in terms of sourcing local, fresh produce. By doing that we discovered that the cheapest is not always best. Taking the time to source locally pays major dividends in terms of quality of ingredients.

“We were sourcing garnish from a mainstream supplier, but most of it was coming back untouched, and that was unnecessary waste. We now source our garnish from a local artisan supplier, it’s 30% more expensive but we give 35% less. The result is that none of it ever comes back, and empty plates are key to repeat custom.”

GFI managing director Margaret Jeffares said that “quality first” has been a core philosophy for the organisation over the past 20 years. Its members have also made savings through a collective, co-operative approach to marketing.

Ms Jeffares said: “We attend 60 consumer shows a year in Ireland and abroad. We buy 20 or 30 stands and create a group village. Our members get a group discount of up to 70% per stand, and a platform they would never get on their own.

“In the food and hospitality sector, you only succeed by bringing people together. The winners at the awards on Monday will get a great promotional lift. The event offers a great opportunity for networking.”

The conference panel includes: GFI chair Redmond O’Donoghue; Margaret Jeffares; Odyssey International MD Kevin Shannon; RTÉ’s Duncan Stewart; and Tourism Ireland marketing director Mark Henry.

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