A smorgasbord of food and drink from Northern Ireland has been put on display in Stockholm as companies from the province target export markets in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which have a combined value of over €102bn (£84bn).
Four companies – Cocomojo, Kitchen Bakes, Art Bangor and Clanconnel Brewing – are taking part in the latest stage of the Access 6 scheme, which aims to provide 90 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across border regions with training and mentorship to help them trade in a number of foreign markets including UK, France, Germany, North America, Benelux and Scandinavia.
An evening reception and showcase of the food and drink was held yesterday at the Irish Embassy in Stockholm, hosted by Ambassador of Ireland, James Carroll, and attended by a host of industry figures and potential buyers.
The companies also participated in a 'study tour' which has given them an insight into the market, enabling them to groom their own products to meet consumer tastes.
Michael Bell, executive director of Northern Ireland Food and Drink and Access 6 programme director, said that he is confident that food and drink from Northern Ireland will appeal to the Scandinavian consumer.
"Our primary aim is to ensure that participants are equipped with all the tools needed to successfully enter the Scandinavian market," he said.
"The Swedish love very high quality, high integrity food, which is what we produce.
"There is an enormous scope right across meat, dairy, bread and drink, both soft and alcoholic.
"It's a very different style of eating – the key to the export market is to get an idea of their tastes and tailor our offering to suit and adapt to that.
"Four-fifths of Northern Ireland food and drink is exported. The local market is only one fifth so the big economic driver is export."
James Carroll said: "I am delighted to welcome new Irish and Scots faces to Sweden and to see the European Access6 Programme helping to develop our connections and build new ones."
Access 6 is funded by EU INTERREG IVA and is delivered by the Irish Exporters Association, Northern Ireland Food & Drink and Scotland Food & Drink.