Belfast Telegraph

Firms get cooking in food sector

Entrepreneurs hungry to set up a business after being bitten by the recession are turning to the food sector.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said its free industry advice service handled a 72% rise in requests for information and resources to assist a business start-up since the downturn in the economy.

It handled 734 inquiries in 2008, compared to 1,259 inquiries last year.

Edel Conway, information manager at the FSAI, said despite the recession there has been growth in the actual number of food businesses registered in the country, from 44,052 in 2008 to 46,259 last year.

"Already in the first two months of this year, requests for business start-up information are up by 29%, when compared to the same period last year," said Ms Conway.

"We offer an expert resource of advisors who can assist people understand what they need to do, how they need to go about it and how to comply with the law if they are thinking of setting up a new food outlet or business."

The agency launched a one-stop resource for anyone seeking information in relation to establishing a food venture on its website www.fsai.ie. It includes advice on starting a food business in the home, a guide to food law for small food producers and information on labelling.

Ms Conway said there was also a high increase in manufacturers selling direct to consumers, including people making cakes or jams or selling produce at farmers markets.

"One of the key strategies for the FSAI is to make it easier for food businesses to comply with legislation and to reduce the barriers for companies or individuals seeking to enter the arena," she added.

"We can offer expert advice and provide practical tips on actions that need to be done in this area."

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