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Appetite for growth conference to highlight need to innovate and export

1 - Pictured: ?Growing our World Class Food and Drink Industry through Innovation and Export?. The fourth annual ?Appetite for Growth? conference on Wednesday 23rd September at Craigavon Civic Centre will explore how Northern Ireland?s agri-food sector can further capitalise on its export potential. Pictured (l-r) are John Hood, Director of Food and Tourism, Invest NI; William Thompson, Agri Manager Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland and Michael Bell, Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. ENDS.
Rebecca Kincade on September 9, 2015 - 8:34 am in News

The fourth annual ‘Appetite for Growth’ conference, hosted by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and supported by Bank Of Ireland and Invest NI, is set to explore how local food and drink companies can grow their businesses through investing in innovation and exporting.

The free-to-attend event, which will be held on Wednesday 23rd September at the Craigavon Civic Centre, will provide an interactive forum for forward-thinking food and drink manufacturers and producers to engage with industry leaders and receive valuable insights and practical tips which can be applied directly to their own business models.

Delegates will hear from speakers including Sandra Sullivan from Food and Drink Exportese, who will present a practical guide to exporting; Dr Clive Black, Head of Research at Shore Capital, who will share the latest trends and opportunities emerging across the UK retail sector; and Stephane Durand of the Agri-Food Quest Competence Centre at Queen’s University, who will explore the vital role that research and innovation has to play in growing the local food and drink sector.

Other speakers at the half-day event include John Hood, Director of Food and Tourism at Invest NI, Head of Agri at Bank of Ireland UK, William Thompson, and Ishabel Capper from ‘Islay Ales.’ Renowned agricultural journalist and commentator Richard Wright will chair the event, which is expected to attract around 150 delegates.

Executive Director of NIFDA, Michael Bell, commented: “Food is generally falling in price partially due to weakening commodity markets but also as a result of severe price competition between supermarkets, leading to deep discounting. Therefore, growing internationally diversified export business is crucial for local food companies wishing to survive and thrive in such a challenging operating environment.
“With ambitious targets to grow industry turnover to £7billion by 2020, as laid out in the ‘Going for Growth’ strategy, now is the time for Northern Ireland Food and Drink businesses to mobilise and capitalise on these significant growth opportunities. The ‘Appetite for Growth’ conference provides an excellent platform to share best practice in relation to innovation and exporting, and will also offer valuable insights into the UK retail sector and how emerging trends are likely to play out over the next few years. We will be sharing some great practical case studies, for example, we’ll be hearing from small producer Islay Ales, which is achieving great export success in Germany.

“It is an exciting time for Northern Ireland as we move towards the Year of Food in 2016 and with the establishment of a dedicated food marketing body imminent. We are committed to helping our world class food and drink sector move towards continued successful growth through providing them with access to expert advice and support and helping them to achieve their full potential,” he concluded.

John Hood, Director of Food and Tourism of Invest NI, added: “Given that the vast majority of our commercial food and drink income comes from outside Northern Ireland (some £4bn), the importance of the export market cannot be overstated, and there is huge potential for further growth through innovation. We have heard so many success stories in the industry when it comes to Northern Ireland businesses building a profile overseas, and events like ‘Appetite for Growth’ will help to inspire other businesses and ensure there will be many more.”

William Thompson, Head of Agri, Bank of Ireland UK, said: “We are delighted to support this event as it provides local food and drink companies with valuable tools and advice on how to grow their businesses at home and abroad. Our local food and drink sector is a hugely significant part of the economy and the opportunities to grow it further should be fully exploited. Bank of Ireland UK have invested in excess of £200m in local agri food businesses in the past two years, and we are confident that with the right investment we will help more food and drink companies to flourish in the future.”

For more information and to register for the conference please visit www.nifda.co.uk, email or contact Morrow Communications on .


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