16 June 2016
By Tom O’Sullivan
Seven Irish food companies have been chosen to participate on the Bord Bia and Compass Group Ireland ‘Food Heroes’ programme that seeks to help small and medium-sized companies develop their foodservice business. Local man Peter O’ Sullivan from Ballincollig’s O’Keeffe’s Bakery is among the lucky seven.
The “Food Heroes” programme, devised by Bord Bia and Compass Group Ireland, provides companies with tailored support and the necessary skills to assist them secure business with Compass Group Ireland, the country’s leading food and support services company. Compass Group Ireland currently employs over 4,000 people, serves over 100,000 meals a day and operates many well-known sites including the Aviva Stadium.
Companies benefitting from the programme were selected across the bakery, cheese, ingredients, meat and protein categories, reflecting the areas where Compass Group Ireland is looking to grow their supply base. The other Irish companies chosen include Galmere Fresh Foods, a producer of soups and sauces, butchers Jack & Keith Molloy Brothers, McCloskey’s Bakery, stuffing and ingredients supplier Mr. Crumb, Wicklow’s Farmhouse Cheese, and Nutraplenish Ireland’s first producer of protein water.
Foodservice or the “out of home food market” is the term used to describe all food consumed out of home, from restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and bars to workplace catering, hospitals, education and vending. According to Bord Bia, the foodservice market has grown from €6.13bn in 2014 to €6.37bn last year, and is forecasted to grow to almost €6.9bn by 2018.
About ‘Food Heroes’
Now in its second year, ‘Food Heroes’ will deliver a practical programme comprising of workshops and bespoke mentoring for each company focusing on areas such as procurement, account management, distribution and export.
The Penny Loaf Company in Tullamore participated on the first programme in 2015 and has since developed business with Compass Group Ireland and more recently with Compass Group UK. According to Louise O’Donohue, Sales & Marketing Manager with Penny Loaf, “Participation on the Food Heroes programme allowed us to meet with relevant Compass Group Ireland decision makers and begin discussions regarding opportunities for driving our products within the Group. In November 2015 we were invited to a ‘Meet the Buyer event hosted by Bord Bia London’s office and involving a team from Compass Group UK. Further to this we are delighted to confirm that we are now supplying our individual Penny Loaves to Compass Group UK sites. The size of their UK business and the potential opportunity for growing sales is phenomenal – on a daily basis they serve over 1 million meals!”
Speaking from the first workshop in Tipperary, Mark Lee, Commercial Director, Compass Group Ireland said, “Through the workshops, representatives from Compass Group Ireland will help the companies better understand our processes, procedures and requirements. A new addition to the programme will see our sourcing team take part for the first time in on-site mentoring prior to facilitating discussions on potential opportunities within our customer base. This programme reinforces our commitment to working with Irish suppliers and delivering first class products to our customers.”
According to Maureen Gahan, Foodservice Specialist, Bord Bia, “We’re delighted to roll out the second year of our ‘Food Heroes’ initiative which delivers hands-on experience to participating suppliers about operating in the foodservice market. Bord Bia believes that food businesses should increasingly look to the foodservice sector as a viable route to market as it is on a growth trajectory. I’m confident that this year’s increased support involving Compass Group Ireland’s sourcing team will allow for focused conversations on how each participant can potentially deliver solutions to meet their customer requirements”.