A countywide food strategy for Cork was launched today at County Hall. “Taste Cork” is a unique initiative which aims to create a thriving food network for the region by linking and promoting producers, retailers, foodservice operators, and distributors. The launch of the strategy marks the beginning of a five year working plan to guide all food related projects throughout Cork.
The visionary food strategy is the result of the largest collaboration of its kind by the Local Enterprise Offices Cork, Cork City Council and Cork County Council and sets out to preserve and secure the future of the county’s unique and rich food heritage. The strategy was developed to support Cork’s hugely successful food industry which has placed the region on the map as being the gourmet capital of Ireland.
Since 2014, Local Enterprise Offices Cork have financially assisted more than 50 food businesses and have approved over €1 million in funding to both start-up and established Cork County and City food companies. In addition, hundreds of food clients have been provided with mentoring and training. Also during this time, more than 200 new jobs have been created by Local Enterprise Offices Cork clients who participated in the Food Academy programme (a joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices). It is envisioned that with greater partnership between all key players that Cork will be more easily promoted on the world stage and achieve further recognition as having one of the best landscapes in the world for food production.
Within the next three years Cork’s Local Enterprise Offices aim to fund up to 100 additional food businesses and approve a further €2million worth of funding to food companies. Their commitment to ongoing mentoring and food specific training will continue to grow, along with their involvement in the successful Food Academy programme.
In a joint statement at the launch of the Taste Cork food strategy, Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council and Ann Doherty, Chief Executive Cork City Council said, “As co-funders of the development of the strategy and the position of the Food Executive, we are delighted to celebrate this important milestone for Cork. The food sector’s significant contribution to the local economy means that the need for an integrated food strategy is vital to nurture and sustain the development of local SME food and drink businesses. Ireland’s agri-food sector is positioned at the forefront of the country’s economic growth so there has never been a better time to act and embrace our region’s strengths. Throughout Cork, a diverse selection of food training and food marketing initiatives are underway and now, through the Taste Cork brand, these programmes can enjoy better linkages and cross-promotion.”
Commenting on the strategy, Rebecca O’Keeffe, Food Executive, Taste Cork said, “In its simplest form, Taste Cork sets out to promote and link the entire network of food producers, retailers, and distributors to those who love food. Now more than ever we are questioning the provenance of the food we buy, something which became highly evident in Bord Bia’s recent research report, PERIscope 2015, where 68% of consumers said it is very important to buy local produce. An important part of the strategy is the formation of a comprehensive directory of food producers and related businesses which Taste Cork is developing and which will also be of interest to not only the population of Cork but also to the 2.3 million visitors to the county each year.”
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Chris O’Leary and the Mayor of County Cork, Cllr. John Paul O’Shea in a joint statement said, “Having observed our strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among Cork food companies, we feel it is imperative to drive this extremely important sector of our economy. To capitalise on Cork’s position as a vibrant hub of quality food production, and to safeguard the continued growth of this sector, we believe that this food strategy will play a major part in promoting Cork as a destination for food lovers and a place of inspiration for future food producers. By working together and promoting each other I have no doubt that we can further raise the profile of Cork as the Food Capital of Ireland and also be recognised on the world stage.”