Food strategy initiative highlights the goodness of Irish foods

FAILTE Ireland is nearing the conclusion of the first phase of a three-year plan to highlight all things Irish in food, hospitality and production on an island-wide scale, and regional producers from specialties to the agri-food sector are moving ahead to promote their brands. ‘Taste the Island’ launched last September, and since then established growers, chefs and artisan producers have been on board to promote the Failte Ireland initiative under their own brands. The programme will run this year until Saturday, 30 th November.
Meanwhile new producers and chefs are creating programmes in their regions, designed to promote tourism in the local food and hospitality sector. “Many counties in the last year or two have begun to look at their food landscape for what is currently happening,” said James Burke of JB&A Food & Retail Advisors, who has been chairing consultations with local food industry representatives with an aim to develop branding. “There is a lot of good stuff happening in every region.” Local craft food artisans along with the food industry sector have been asked to devise a roadmap to promoting regional brands with goals they have established in consultation along the way while forming a network within their industry. Regional initiatives have received the support of Failte Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and local authorities.

Conor Sweeney of the Kildare County Council Food Strategy Department, Orla McGee of Enterprise Ireland and Food and Business Advisor James Burke have coordinated a series of food strategy consultations

“We are looking at the food landscape, how we are going to get there and how we are going to do that,” said Orla McGee of the Local Enterprise Office Economic Unit “Which is the purpose of the strategy.”  While the initiative encourages shopping locally, regional initiatives encourage regional branding opportunities among participating businesses including food and beverage operators and artisan and craft food producers towards showcasing under the banners of the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Dublin, and the Midlands. The initiative is expanding on previous successes in the rural agri-food sector in job creation and retention while encouraging farmers to produce locally to promote their brands aimed at domestic and international tourism.
“The food sector has had difficulties in retaining trained staff,” said Conor Sweeney, Mid-east Meath-Kildare-Wicklow Program Manager of the Regional Enterprise Plan. “The amount of people who leave their counties to produce food or for living space, regional co-working spaces around the region present a good opportunity. James Burke added, “It has to be owned locally. If you believe in the county and the county’s food, there is a lot of good stuff going on.”

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