Belfast Telegraph

Agri-Food and Drink Forum will promote Craigavon to the food and drink industry

By Maureen Coleman

Firms like Avondale Foods, Moy Park and Irwin's Bakery are helping to put Craigavon on the map as a food and drink centre of excellence.

Co-ordinated by Craigavon Borough Council in conjunction with Food NI and the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, the Craigavon Agri-Food and Drink Forum hopes to boost export, innovation and entrepreneurship within the sector.

The forum will provide a platform for local producers, SMEs, business leaders and key stakeholders – including Invest NI and Southern Regional College – to work in partnership to promote and encourage Craigavon's agri-food and drink industry.

Meanwhile the third annual Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association conference (NIFDA), entitled Appetite for Growth, later this month, will explore how Northern Ireland's agri-food sector can further capitalise on its export potential and grow sales outside Northern Ireland by 75% to £4.5bn by 2018.

Sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK and Invest Northern Ireland, and supported by DARD's Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme, the conference will expose the local food and drink industry to case studies from Scotland and Wales.

The free event will also include interactive master classes alongside keynote speeches and is expected to attract over 150 delegates from both the business and agri-food sectors across Northern Ireland.

Commenting on the conference theme of 'making it happen', NIFDA chairman and boss at dairy farm Dale Farm, Dr David Dobbin CBE, said that challenges lie ahead for local processors and farmers.

He said: "If we are to continue to grow and deliver the ambitious targets in the Going for Growth strategy, we need to implement the various actions identified to improve our competitiveness and market our produce. Our focus must be on making it happen and following through on the actions identified. We need to unlock our sector's full potential."

The Appetite for Growth conference will be held in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast on Tuesday, September 23.

Belfast Telegraph