Laois food and drink producers invited to join Food Academy

Previous success stories from Laois include Flavour Safari, Ballykilcavan Brewery, Le Skinny Chef and 12 acres Brewing Company

Leinster Express Reporter

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Laois beer brewers feature in Lidl 'Kickstart' campaign to help local business #KEEPLAOISINBUSINESS

David Walsh Kemmis founder of Ballykilcavan Brewery  in Stradbally

Local Enterprise Office Laois is inviting food and drink producers from the county to join the hugely successful Food Academy programme and follow in the footsteps of local companies, such as  Ballykilcavan Brewery, Le Skinny Chef, Flavour Safari, 12 Acres Brewing Company which have previously taken part.

Now in its eighth year, Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between the 31 Local Enterprise Offices, including Local Enterprise Office Laois, SuperValu and Bord Bia. Participants in the programme receive training in food safety, market research and branding, marketing, finance, sustainability and business development.

The Food Academy programme currently supports 290 Irish food and drink producers including 140 female entrepreneurs, generating €170m in sales. In 2020, there was a 15% growth in SuperValu Food Academy sales with participants earning €28m. The Food Academy programme supports 1,500 jobs in local communities nationwide and local producers are now being encouraged to apply for the 2021 programme before Friday, April 27th.

Evelyn Reddin, Head of Enterprise with Local Enterprise Office Laois welcoming the increase in Food Academy sales through SuperValu in 2020.

“Since it was started up eight years ago by the Local Enterprise Offices, SuperValu and Bord Bia, the Food Academy programme has been hugely successful, going from strength to strength. It has helped hundreds of up-and-coming food and drink producers to get their products market-ready, giving them an opportunity to sell to a nationwide audience.”

“The Food Academy is part of a suite of Local Enterprise Office supports designed for food and drink entrepreneurs in Ireland, such as the Digital School of Food and Food Starter programmes, both aimed at getting those with food ideas off the ground. As local food and drink producers grow their sales through these programmes, Local Enterprise Office Laois is on hand to support their expansion plans through further training, mentoring and financial assistance,” she said.

Commenting on the Food Academy programme, Carmel Biggane, Food Academy Manager, SuperValu said: “At SuperValu we believe in local business and are proud to continue to support local producers across the country. In collaboration with the Local Enterprise Office Network and Bord Bia, the Food Academy is a great way for us to help new businesses to grow and get the support they need.

“The programme allows us to use our experience to help small businesses through their journey from start up to getting their products on our shelves all year round. We’ve had great success with the Food Academy in recent years, we look forward to welcoming new producers this year and continuing to support local communities. I would call on local food producers across Ireland to get involved and see how Food Academy can help you grow.”

The Food Academy Programme is now open for applications until Friday 23rd April 2021 and the subsidised cost to participate is €200 per company. To apply, interested food and drink producers from Laois are encouraged to contact Local Enterprise Office Laois for an application form by e-mailing hdeevy@laoiscoco.ie or by visiting LocalEnterprise.ie/laois 

Further information about the Food Academy is also available at https://supervalu.ie/real-people/food-academy-programme