A development agency is planning a major campaign to support and enhance artisan food production in the South and East Cork region.
Secad (South and East Cork Area Development) has compiled a five-year strategy to aid the growing food sector in the area to produce more, thus creating more jobs within the industry.
Secad chief executive Ryan Howard said that, through research and consultation with food enterprises, it has developed a vision for the artisan food sector in Cork that will “create more jobs, promote and develop the sector sustainably and ensure that the region is fully equipped to capitalise on the opportunity to build high quality artisan food companies”.
Mr Howard said the artisan food and processing sector in south and east Cork makes a significant contribution to the social and economic fabric of the region, and has more than 100 active food processors, ranging from start-ups to micro-enterprises and established small and medium-sized businesses.
As part of the current Leader programme, which expires in 2020, Secad recently commissioned an in-depth review of agribusiness and artisan food industries in the region and their future development requirements.
Mr Howard said further mentoring support, specific food-related training, supports for product and business innovation, access to research and development, and the establishment of food clusters and food business networks were all highlighted as areas for further support to build a stronger food economy in the area.
“Overall the food sector is going through a period of growth; national targets are being achieved in terms of exports,” said Mr Howard. “However, to maintain this we need further investment in the next generation of artisan food enterprise success stories.
“This will require investment from grass roots in start-up artisan food enterprises and ongoing investment in established enterprises.”