SuperValu wants local food start-ups for Food Academy

(Above) Aisling Cullen of Thanks Plants, with her children Aida (5) and Sebastian (3).

The programme is open for applications until Friday June 26 and food start-ups can apply by contacting the Local Enterprise Office for an application form on www.localenterprise.ie.

Now in its seventh year, SuperValu Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). Participants in the programme receive training in market research and branding, food safety, marketing, finance and business development.

The programme helps early-stage Irish food and drink businesses to get their start in the food retail sector with their first supermarket listing in SuperValu.

This support for local is all made possible by SuperValu’s independent retail model, whereby retailers can give SuperValu Food Academy members access to one or a small group of stores, allowing them to manage demand as they grow their operations.

One of the food start-ups to list in SuperValu is Thanks Plants, a 100% plant-based, handmade vegan sausages brand.

Produced locally in Ireland, Thanks Plants is a delicious and wholesome option for vegans and anyone trying to reduce their meat intake and is available in a number of varieties, including apple and sage; sundried tomato and herb and a frankfurter option.

Aisling Cullen, who set up Thanks Plants, said: “Over the last six months, with the help of Supervalu’s Food Academy, I’ve been working steadily to develop a unique product.

"Without the help of Food Academy, I would not be where I am now. It has given huge support to all the producers involved, and I recommend it for any new producer starting out.”

Martin Kelleher, managing director, SuperValu, said: “We have been supporters of local for 40 years and it’s part of our DNA.

"We started SuperValu Food Academy to support local food start-ups and the programme is more important than ever as we see consumers swing back to support our local food producers.

“SuperValu’s network of independently owned and operated stores across Ireland means that we are best placed to support local food start-ups through SuperValu Food Academy.

“Our independent retailers can provide local producers with their all-important first supermarket listing, helping them to create employment in local communities.

"We believe in local business and Food Academy is great way for us to help new businesses to grow and get the support they need.”

Food Academy producers have sold a combined €140 million of produce in SuperValu since 2014, supporting 1,500 jobs. To date, 620 producers have come through the programme, with 272 producers currently enrolled in the programme.

SuperValu serves over 2.6 million customers every week and has 223 stores nationwide.

Together with its retail partners, SuperValu employs approximately 14,500 colleagues, making it one of the State’s largest private-sector employers.

SuperValu continues to source locally wherever possible which helps to sustain 30,000 jobs in the Irish economy.

If you would like to take part in the Food Academy programme, please contact your Local Enterprise Office for an application form on www.localenterprise.ie by Friday, June 26.

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