Asda backs scheme recognising best of home-grown produce
Supermarket giant Asda has thrown its weight behind the Year of Food & Drink 2016, a celebration of Northern Ireland produce.
The chain said it is launching a special training and development programme for its suppliers to support the Year of Food & Drink programme.
Asda said that it would reinforce its relationship with the agri-food sector, and build on the £300m of products it sources from food and drink products here.
The supplier development academy, which is backed by Invest NI and Scotland Food & Drink, will be open to a number of Asda's suppliers.
Asda said it had the potential to boost participants' trading potential by up to 30%.
The supermarket said it would also hold events which would enable customers to embrace the Year of Food.
There will be food events in each of its 16 stores in Northern Ireland, including 'Great Taste of Northern Ireland' promotions, a year-long food sampling programme, a major presence at The Balmoral Show, a schools' engagement programme, and sponsorship of the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend.
And at Meet the Buyer events around the province, Asda said it will offer small producers the chance to meet their supply team. Michael McCallion, Asda's head of local sourcing for Northern Ireland and Scotland, said: "We've always been totally upfront about our commitment to Northern Ireland's food sector and Year of Food provides the ideal platform to raise the bar - from both a supplier and a consumer perspective. We're proud to be taking a lead and relish the chance to further boost the reputation of food, farming and retail in Northern Ireland."