Invest NI is the region’s economic development agency, providing tailored support to the food and drink sector domestically and internationally. Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector is as diverse as the region’s natural landscape and, while already playing a pivotal role in the region’s economy, Invest NI believes there is clear potential for a significant increase in sales outside the home market. Food and drink is worth £2.7bn a year to the Northern Ireland economy and sales are split regionally by: UK market: £1.96bn and Non-UK markets: £629m. The proportion of goods sold to customers outside domestic (i.e. Northern Ireland) market represents 59% of total turnover and overall, the sector contributed 15.8% of Northern Ireland’s external manufacturing sales. The sector accounts for 18.9% of Northern Irelands total manufacturing sales. The Food and Drink sector is responsible for 24% of exports of manufactured goods and is the biggest contributor to manufacturing Gross Value Added (13%) with 18,442 employees (22%) of total manufacturing employment.
Invest NI’s team of Specialist Marketing Advisors can offer personal guidance on thousands of products from over 450 suppliers in Northern Ireland and are supporting businesses seeking to export to GB and the Republic of Ireland, helping companies secure and develop listings with major food retailers and companies in foodservices – and delivering over £7 million of new business in the past year. Among their innovations is a next day sampling service, ensuring that even the smallest producers can reach potential customers with information and samples as quickly as possible. Invest NI’s Belfast-based one-to-one buying sessions have put local producers in touch with 15 of the biggest food retailers in the British Isles, with over 500 face-to-face meetings in the past 18 months and 50 new Northern Ireland products listed by multiples such as Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury, Tesco and Asda. Through this specialist support, Invest NI enables even the smallest producers to achieve exemplary levels of professionalism in their operations, enabling them to deal more effectively and efficiently with retail buyers.
It’s hard to see anywhere else in the British Isles that crams such diversity of landscape in such a relatively small area – and Northern Ireland is now delivering a range of food and drink that truly reflects the qualities and character of a unique region and its people. The full flavour of Northern Ireland is far more complex than many might first imagine. The classic ingredients – from fresh seafood to traditional baking – are there, of course, but so too are a number of surprises – from brie that stands alongside France’s finest in Galeries Lafayette to ice cream in UK supermarkets to fruit compote in Hungarian delicatessens. The Northern Irish landscape offers a remarkable list of natural ingredients in a recipe that blends the region’s climate, landscape and produce with the commitment and creativity of its people. Produced in Europe’s cleanest and greenest natural environment, food from Northern Ireland has an enviable reputation for being full of flavour and wholesomeness. The NI Food industry is also respected globally for its long standing commitment to food that is ethical, traceable and fully accredited. Contact Invest NI to find out more about any of the producers listed – and we’ll help you and your customers to discover the natural taste of Northern Ireland.
Michelle Charrington – Southern England & Wales +44(0)78 1717 3514
Robin Barnett – Southern England & Wales GB +44 (0)78 1717 3513
Karl Devlin – Scotland & Northern England + 44 (0) 77 6739 3316
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