Food Academy is a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia, and the Local Enterprise Office Network and since its inception in 2014, has supported more than 600 small producers from start-up to getting their products onto supermarket shelves. They, in turn, support 900 jobs nationwide.
The growing success of the programme was revealed at the second day of the Cork and Kerry Food Forum during which more than 70 food producers showed their wares, watched by almost 10,000 people who attended the two-day event at Cork City Hall.
Speaking at the forum, Martin Kelleher, SuperValu managing director, said: “I am delighted to announce that sales from the Food Academy programme are expected to top €25m this year. A total of 281 Food Academy producers are currently selling their products in SuperValu stores across Ireland, with these producers supporting more than 900 jobs nationally.
“Small food businesses play a vital role in the Irish economy and SuperValu are delighted to support these local producers.”
His view of the success of the academy programme was echoed by Joe Burke of the Local Enterprise Office South Cork. “The Food Academy was established to support passionate and entrepreneurial food producers in Ireland,” he said.
“This unique joint initiative has proven hugely successful, as evidenced by the phenomenal 2016 sales figures announced today by SuperValu. We are delighted to have our Food Academy producers at the Cork and Kerry Food Forum. This event is about showcasing the incredible offerings from the Cork and Kerry region.”
Guest chefs at the food forum included David and Stephen Flynn of The Happy Pear. The identical twins, who are also SuperValu Good Food Karma ambassadors, shared their vegan and wholesome approach to eating, their favourite recipes and their philosophy of making natural and healthy food mainstream.
Those who attended yesterday were also in for a special treat consisting of cookery demonstrations by one of Ireland’s best-loved chefs, Kevin Dundon.
A chef with a love of locally-sourced indigenous produce, Dundon cooked a specially-crafted healthy recipe using ingredients from Food Academy producers.
A number of food producers from West Cork food were featured at the event. Among the exhibitors were Eugene and Helena Hickey whose Skeaghanore Duck raised on their farm in Ballydehob has even graced the table of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Others included Seán and Siobhán Nolan who produce oak-smoked fish products in Union Hall while Macroom buffalo mozzarella was also exhibited. It is made from fresh buffalo milk produced by Ireland’s only herd of milking water buffalo.
Those with a sweet tooth enjoyed the taste of Milseán Chocolate and East Cork also got a look-in in the form of Shana Wilkie’s family-run chocolate business based in Midleton, which she started in 2012.