Distribution a major issue for food producers

A lack of financial advice and support is the biggest challenge facing food producers in growing their businesses, according to 70% of small to medium-sized producers.

Distribution a major issue for food producers

A survey, conducted on behalf of the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, also found that for 65% of producers, distribution is a major problem, nationally and internationally.

The findings of the survey, titled Producer Power in 2014, were announced at the launch of the seventh Annual Blas na hÉireann Awards yesterday.

Set up to reward and support the best of Irish producers, it is the largest competition of its kind in Ireland, attracting more than 2,000 entries annually.

Award winners get to display the Blas na hÉireann symbol on their products which, previous research shows, leads to an increase in sales.

All entries are blind-tasted by a team of more than 350 judges in two tranches, including top chefs, journalists, home cooks, and academics. The judging system was developed and is overseen each year by Joe Kerry and his team from the School of Food and Nutritional Science at University College Cork.

The award winners in over 80 food categories will be presented at a ceremony in Dingle, Co Kerry, on Saturday October 4, to coincide with the peninsula’s popular food and wine festival.

In addition, Bord Bia sponsors two key awards, the Blas na hÉireann supreme champion and the best artisan producer, which will also be presented.

Last year, Olivia Curran, of An Olivia Chocolate, took the top gong, and has seen business more than double since then.

Meanwhile, in the survey, Government agencies scored well, with producers recognising the support they get from the County Enterprise Boards, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, with Teagasc, BIM and Údarás ranking well within their specific areas.

“Unfortunately the problem seems to be that the impact of agency support is not being fully leveraged because of difficulties accessing financial advice and support on the one hand and being able gain distribution to new markets on the other,” said Blas na hÉireann chairman Artie Clifford, a former producer in the seafood sector.

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