The Cork County & City Enterprise Boards held their second ‘Cork Food Forum’ at Actons Hotel Kinsale on Wednesday evening organised together with Bullseye Food Marketing.
A select number of exhibitors generously displayed their fare for sampling before the speakers got underway introduced by Sean O’Sullivan of South Cork Enterprise Board. First up to speak was Liam Ryan of Ryan’s SuperValu, Cork & Limerick. Liam delivered sound and relevant guidance aimed at the local artisan food producers trying to get their product onto a retailer’s shelf. I’d never heard the term ‘shelf warmer’ before and visualised this shiny new product sitting on the shelf all togged out in pristine new gear with unscuffed boots shifting around awaiting a call up to the trolley, full of hope and expectation but not quite making the cut and ‘shelf-warmers’ do not get a second chance. It’s either the victorious bleep of your barcode as you touchdown and are deftly packed into a shopping bag or the equivalent of Saipan and an unceremonious sejourn to the ‘returns’ or ‘out of date’ section. Expectations are of high standards, competitiveness, ability to diversify and customer empathy. Of all the advice and guidance that Liam gave what stood out was his stress on the importance of planning in all aspects of the business not just a business plan but also a range plan.
Up next to speak was Deirdre Hilliard of ‘The Just Food Company’, who has taken her company from Midleton Farmers Market to over a 100 stores. Deirdre was entertaining and inspirational and delivered encouragement to those hoping to follow suit. Deirdre made reference to participation in the Advanced Food Programme which is delivered by the Enterprise Board and Sean O’Sullivan later mentioned that the North Cork programmes is currently open for applications.
Last up was Damien Mulley of Mulley Communications and he had most delegates scribbling new terms such as ‘pay per click’ and ‘social media’ into their notebooks and many of us making silent resolutions such as ‘must start tweeting’ and ‘get LinkedIn.’ Damien threatened that he would probably over-run his timeslot and have to be told to stop however his material and time management gave us just enough information and left many of us wanting more.
Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening imparting many salient pointers and plenty of data to process (okay, what I really wanted to say was ‘food for thought’ but that would be a cliche too far:) )
I was sorry that I didn’t bring my camera to provide an image to go along with a question to Katie of ‘Katie’s Real Chocolate’. “How do you get the fresh Dunmanway strawberry into the star shaped handmade Bandon chocolate?!!” I expected a strawberry syrup but biting into a fresh strawberry was beyond sublime. Pure genius and probably a trade secret.
(p.s. Damien Mulley did tweet a picture of the chocolates in question http://yfrog.com/74t7kj).
It was great to see so much variety of produce under one roof and best wishes to all who participated including; Blue Haven, Katie’s Real Chocolate, Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, Posh Nosh, Dee’s Eat Well Be Happy, Ummera, Taste a Memory, The Just Food Company, Delicious – The Gluten Free Bakery, Farm Fresh Food, Cookies of Character, BIM Seafood Development, Bullseye Food Marketing (event organiser), Horgan’s, Rosscarbery Recipes, Breheny’s Bellish, Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese, Issie’s Handmade Chocolate, V-Pro and In 4 Lunch Sandwiches.
Till next time Sheila.