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.
The Small Business food sector is segmented into Artisan, Established, Startups and In-Growth types. Approximately 500 food companies with a turnover of €100,000 to €3.5m are registered with Bord Bia for supports and services. These owner-managed businesses produce high-end products with a strong focus on the domestic market.
A range of supports for this particular sector is available from my Department and relevant State agencies, including Bord Bia, Teagasc and Local Enterprise Offices. Supports include marketing assistance, specialised training, capacity building and promotion.
In May 2018, my colleague Minister Ring and I launched the ‘LEADER Food Initiative’ for artisan/small food and beverage businesses, which provides for funding of up to €15m up to 2020, from my Department, through the Rural Development Programme (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.
To-date, 21 projects with a total value of more than €800,000 have been approved under the scheme.