Bord Bia’s director of marketing services, Una Fitzgibbon, said that artisan food producers will have a vital role to play in the new brand. Artisan and speciality food companies employ 3,000 people in 350 firms with a combined output of €400 million.
Ms Fitzgibbon said: “Work is at an advanced stage in the development of an umbrella brand for the Irish food industry in order to maximise the potential for growth at a time when the global demand for food is pro-jected to increase by 70% over the next 40 years.
“Central to the brand promise is that ‘we are natural and we can prove it’. The brand model will, in particular, highlight the role of place and culture, in which the artisan food industry plays an integral part, in building the brand story of Irish food and drink and delivering the vision and strategy for Food Brand Ireland.”
Ms Fitzgibbon was speaking at yesterday’s launch of the Taste Council of Ireland’s inaugural Food Summer School, at Brook-Lodge Hotel, Co Wicklow. Over 150 representatives from the artisan food sector attended, including Darina Allen, Myrtle Allen, John and Sally McKenna, Bridgestone Food Guides, Dr Oliver Moore, Kevin Sheridan and Georgina Campbell. Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney delivered the closing address.
Taste Council chairman Evan Doyle said: “Irish agriculture is at cross-roads; there are many choices to be made as to how we best utilise our great agricultural heritage and resources. We believe that the strategic develop-ment of the Irish artisan and speciality sector will lead to sustainable job creation through increases in revenue and market share.”
Teagasc researcher Dr Áine Macken-Walsh said Irish food producers could compete on cost, or on their unique and superior value. She also proposed a Middle Farm model in which farmers would come together in small co-op-erative-type organisations.
Dr Macken-Walsh said: “These organisations can then bring in the necessary marketing and production expertise to deliver not necessarily an organic, processed or artisan product but an indigenous product — conventional/authentic in Ireland, produced non-intensively on family-run farms using traditional farming methods, compliant with environmental standards, enriched by cultural, social, ecological sig-nificance of these farms.”