Londonderry wafer-maker, Neil Doherty, ‘poked’ his head into an Invest NI seminar to learn how the bakery and snacks sector can better innovate in order to grow business in the North West.
The managing director of the Skeoge-based Wafer Ltd. was among 40 producers invited to the seminar, which was co-hosted by the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).
John Hood, Invest Northern Ireland’s Director of Food and Tourism said: “Northern Ireland’s bakery and snacks sector remains very competitive, with businesses continually needing to invest in innovation and skills to remain profitable.
“Responding to the needs of the sector, as identified by the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s Bakery and Snacks sub group, this event will help to improve the competitiveness and capability of local companies as they seek to grow in ever competitive markets outside Northern Ireland.
“Together with CAFRE, we want to encourage more local businesses to explore innovative measures to support their growth and continued contribution to Northern Ireland’s Agri-Food processing industry.
“Extending a product’s shelf life, for example, can help deliver greater export opportunities, while implementing efficiencies in a product’s distribution can reduce costs.
“Innovation is key to success and Invest NI and CAFRE have advice and support designed to help local producers in this sector to embrace innovation in all its forms,”
The bakery and snacks sector is a very strong contributor to Agri-Food in Northern Ireland and includes the production of bread, bread products, biscuits, buns, pies and pastry as well as hand-held snacks and food-to-go products.
The delegates discussed the importance of product innovation, market trends, and seasonal opportunities. The group also got an overview of the support available from Invest NI, as well as viewing the technical facilities provided in the Food Innovation Centre at CAFRE.
Joy Alexander, Head of Food Technology, CAFRE, added: “We at CAFRE, Loughry Campus are delighted to be jointly organising and hosting this important Food Innovation Seminar, targeted at the Bakery and Snacks Sector. We have an agri-food industry which we can be justifiably proud of, but the challenge which faces everyone is to continue to develop world class products which meet the needs of an ever discerning consumer, wherever in the world that consumer may be.
“I encourage food companies to work in partnership with Invest NI and Loughry and explore the many opportunities available for innovation support.”
Invest NI offers free advice and support available in areas such as business information, innovation and technology solutions, research and development, design, e-business, sustainable development, skills and strategy solutions, trade development and food marketing.