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Taste Council Summer School



Addressing the Taste Council Summer School on 'The Future is Food' in Brooklodge Hotel, Co. Wicklow, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, re-affirmed the importance of artisan and speciality food producers to the Irish economy.

The Minister paid tribute to the Taste Council and Bord Bia for organising the Summer School and to the 150 food producers, food writers and opinion formers and stakeholders in the food supply chain who participated enthusiastically in workshops on authentic food culture, the artisan and the education system and provenance, premiumisation and employment in the food sector. "The Food Harvest 2020 process is industry-led and I think it hugely important that the industry take a strategic lead. In the early 1970s entrepreneurial farmhouse cheesemakers reinvigorated and reinvented cheesemaking traditions. Today the turnover of Irish Farmhouse Cheese is estimated at €12 million with €4.5 million in exports and the quality and diversity of product on offer is truly impressive. Subsequently there been a renaissance in specialty meats and increasing awareness of the sustainability and excellence of Irish quality meats."

The Minister emphasised the importance of small food companies to the local economy.

"Small food businesses overall had an estimated turnover of €400 million in 2010, employ 3,000 people directly and create ancillary employment in distribution and sales. With consumer awareness of locally produced food at 93% according to Bord Bia research, this offers a significant opportunity for specialty and artisan producers to build sales locally and to work together to establish new markets and reduce distribution costs in reaching those markets".

The Minister added that the Food Harvest 2020 report had identified the potential of the artisan and specialty sector, both from agri-food and food tourism aspects, and that he was driving implementation of the recommendations in Food Harvest 2020 to encourage and promote food entrepreneurship from the earliest stages of development, to promote and broaden opportunities including local markets, to conserve and promote local and traditional foods and to explore possibilities for mentoring by larger companies to support artisan companies achieve markets distribution and build their customer base.  "Food Harvest 2020 actions taken to date to promote and support the artisan and specialty sector support include the funding of food innovation vouchers, the showcasing of Irish artisan food during the recent royal visit to Dublin and Cork, projects undertaken by Bord Bia Marketing Fellows to help food companies build new markets, regional workshops for operators on consumer suggestions on farmers markets and the Code of Good Practice Banner together with ongoing support from a range of state agencies committed to assisting the sector to grow. In the coming years the Regional Food Showcase initiative, launched in the South-East this year, will be rolled out region by region to build food networks and relationships between food companies within regions. Strategies to highlight the richness and authenticity of traditional foods will also be developed in close co-operation with the sector."

Concluding the day's discussions Minister Coveney said "Artisan and speciality food producers are important contributors to the recovery and future prosperity of the Irish economy. Their survival and growth does not only bring investment returns for individual businesses, it also underpins supporting local and often rural economies and the image of Ireland as a provider of high quality, innovative and sustainable food excellence. Food tourism is a significant opportunity for local and regional foods, as seeking out local food experience has risen on the visiting tourists’ agenda. The market for food tourism in Ireland is valued at €2.2 billion."

Date Released: 30 August 2011