New food businesses thriving in North Cork
The North Cork Enterprise Board (NCEB), through its role in developing, encouraging, and supporting local enterprises, has specifically identified the food business sector as a strong performing part of the local economy, in the face of challenging economic conditions.
They feel the local food business sector is an area with great potential for the development of start-up enterprises and the further enhancement of existing enterprises.
The NCEB continues to encourage and support both start up and existing SME’s to modernise and develop, to embrace the latest trends and developments in the sector and to ensure that they keep pace with continuously evolving practices within the sector. Over the past two years in particular, the board has provided a range of new initiatives to support and encourage local entrepreneurs to maximise opportunities within the local food business sector.
According to Michael Hanley, Manager, NCEB, “opportunities are continuing to present themselves in the niche food sector and with proper research and preparation, promoters of new food ventures have every chance of success. We are actively engaged with several new and existing niche operations that are planning to launch new products within the immediate future.”
As part of their strategy, the NCEB established the North Cork Food Forum Network which presented food companies within the North Cork area with an opportunity to showcase their products and to meet with buyers to provide critique and opportunity. Two of these food forum events have taken place to date with very positive results.
The cost of providing food grade facilities has been an obstacle to the establishment of new ventures in a lot of cases. To overcome this, the NCEB and Cork County Council have developed specialised food units in Fermoy, providing ready to go facilities for start up food companies. These facilities are finished to food grade standard and are designed to fast-track new start up ventures.
The Advanced Food Programme, an initiative pioneered by the Cork Enterprise Boards for companies who have been trading for eighteen months or more, was delivered by the board in Charleville for ten existing businesses to help and support them.
The programme concentrates on product development, branding and access to the multiples. It has achieved excellent results for participants and will be rolled out in other North Cork locations in the future.
The NCEB recently held a seminar on PR and Social Media for Food Businesses. Its purpose was to provide techniques to help food producers prepare effective press releases to promote their business. The importance of social media as an advertising tool was highlighted, including the use of Linked In, Facebook and Twitter.
Michael Hanley says that the NCEB will continue to support and provide further training and up-skilling opportunities for food processing businesses in North Cork.
Amongst the successful food businesses that have benefited from the help and support of the initiatives offered through the NCEB are Horgan’s Fresh Fish Mallow, Nibbles Food Emporium Millstreet, Green Valley Dairy, Mitchelstown, Fermoy Cheese and Uncle Bob's, Kanturk.