Support For Co-operative Development In The Agri Food Business.
Groups of individuals or small businesses who would benefit from co-operation with other aspects of the agri food chain can now avail of business support from the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme.
Mandina Fulton, Senior Administrator from Countryside Services, who are operating the scheme on behalf of the NI Rural Development Program and DAERA, explains “The scheme recognises that small businesses in the agri food supply chain can often have difficulty finding time to identify the expertise and resources necessary to progress joint initiatives. The Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme will give like-minded businesses the opportunity to work together to explore ways of improving returns from the supply chain.”
Examples of this type of co-operation which were funded under the Supply Chain Development Program – the forerunner of this new scheme, are groups of growers in the apple and pork industries. They recognised the growth in artisan food products but did not have the expertise within their group to avail of this market opportunity.
The apple growers availed of the expertise of specialist mentor support to create a brand for their products and to produce marketing tools. They recognised the tourism potential of the apple industry and created strategic linkages with the wider supply chain including cider producers, restaurants and hotels, to make the product the central focus of a tourism destination project, thus creating new markets and ultimately consumers of their products. Local outlets began to work with the growers as they had created a professional marketing campaign which they could all become part of.
A small group of farmers rearing outdoor pigs faced the same dilemma. They were operating on a small scale and needed business advice on how to upscale their production capacity in order to provide a steady supply for customers and expand their customer base. They realised that they would be targeting high-end restaurants and farm shops so their product required a premium price. They availed of expertise to carry out a financial appraisal and marketing strategy which was followed up with study tours for the group to meet other high-end food producers in order to gain invaluable information on this niche market.
Mandina Fulton added “ Through the Agri-Food Co-operation Scheme expert help is available for business planning, specialist mentoring, market research, training, study tours and business tools such as information systems, market intelligence, promotional material etc.”
Groups who wish to express interest or find further information should visit the Countryside Services web site www.countrysideservices.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 028 8778 8207