Artisan and speciality food businesses can have a significant impact on local rural economies and their importance is acknowledged in the Food Wise 2025 strategy. Growth prospects for the sector are positive overall, driven by increased consumer interest in the provenance of food, environmental concerns, health and a desire to support the local economy.
A range of supports for the artisan food sector are available from my Department and relevant State agencies, including:
- the Food Works programme developed by Bord Bia, Teagasc and Enterprise Ireland for start-up food entrepreneurs;
- the Food Academy programme developed by Bord Bia in cooperation with Local Enterprise Offices and Supervalu;
- workshop supports for farmers' markets from Bord Bia;
- support from my Department for the UCC Diploma in Speciality Food Production; and
- specific supports for the farmhouse cheese sector under the EU promotion programme.
Earlier this year, my colleague Minister Ring and I launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ for the artisan/small food and beverage businesses, which provides for funding of up to €15 million up to 2020, from my Department, through the Rural Development Plan (RDP). This funding is being delivered using the LEADER methodology. It supports new and existing artisan, micro and small food producers to address emerging challenges through investment in areas such as capital equipment, market development, competitiveness and innovation.