Food firms' mission to get Handel on Germany
Fifteen food companies including Irwin's Bakery, Suki Teahouse and White's Speedicook are hoping to give a major European importer a flavour of Northern Ireland produce during a trade mission to Germany.
Invest NI hosted a three-day visit by a senior executive of D-amp;E Handels in Hamburg, which has a distribution network throughout Germany that includes major retailers and independent stores with a potential wider marketplace of over 80 million people.
Maynard Mawhinney, Invest NI's director of food and tourism, said that as one of Europe's biggest and most affluent markets, Germany offers substantial opportunities.
"D-amp;E Handels was chosen because the company has extensive experience in importing food and drink to Germany and also because of its sharp focus on sales and marketing," he said.
"We were keen to tie up with a company which had the resources and commitment to work with our companies, especially smaller and medium enterprises, in developing their products and packaging to suit the German standards and market requirements.
"All the Northern Ireland companies taking part in the one-to-one meetings were chosen by Handels as having the greatest potential in Germany.
"The visit is an integral part of our focus on assisting local food and drink companies to explore and exploit business in key markets in Europe and Russia.
"Our market research has indicated that German consumers are concerned about the provenance of their food and are increasingly moving away from processed products. Our companies offer the sort of provenance and heritage that the market is demanding.
"Most of the products shown to Handels were also geared to the expansion in quality home cooking. Consumers there are now eating out less, but are prepared to spend more on premium products to enjoy at home.
"There's been a return of more traditional kitchen skills. As a result, there's a growing demand throughout Germany for innovative products that cater to the creative home cook.
"Sustainability continues to gather pace, whether for environmental or humanitarian reasons, consumers are increasingly giving priority to sustainable practices that benefit both humans and animals."
The marketing initiative is also being assisted by staff at Invest NI's office in Dusseldorf.
The number of Northern Ireland companies on the German trade mission