Channel Clusters Dissemination Seminar - Wednesday 2nd November

The third in the series of Channel Clusters dissemination seminars took place on Wednesday 2nd November 2011 in Teagasc Ashtown, Dublin 15. This follows the 2 previous seminars that were held recently - on in Dublin on 23rd September and the other in Cork on 19th October.

There were 5 speakers in total.  Sheila Gallogly of spoke first. Sheila was one of the 3 mentors on the Channel Clusters programme and was responsible for assisting 10 companies.  She spoke on the subject of New Product Development and the Stage Gate process from idea generation to product commercialisation. She spoke about the 5 Golden Rules of NPD and gave examples from the programme where she assisted companies to develop new products includes JM Foodservices, McEvoy Foods and Stable Diet.

Sheila was followed by Ciaran Finegan, Trading Manager, BWG.  BWG were one of the Channel Partners on the programme and Ciaran gave an overview of BWG and the opportunities for suppliers with them.  Ciaran spoke about the size of their retail and wholesale businesses (including Spar, Mace, BWG Wholesale and Value Centres) and spoke about the importance of getting distribution right.  He said BWG does have their own chilled distribution infrastructure so companies have to do it themselves or find a third party distributor to do it for them.  He also spoke about central billing and why it was advantageous for producers to be on central billing with BWG. He spoke at length about the geographic challenge of reaching all Spar stores.  He mentioned that there were 7 Eurospars in Donegal out of a total of 56 nationwide.  If a product is not available in all Eurospars, it cannot go on national promotion with BWG. He spoke about their food strategy and the opportunity with own label.

Hugh Maguire who has a butcher's shop in Ashbourne, Co. Meath spoke next.  Hugh is also on the board of the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland.  He spoke about how helped him to drive footfall in his store and with the development of their online offering.  He said that selling on line is a 'string he has to add to his bow' and he has collected addresses from participating at shows like the Food and Wine Show in the RDS. James Whelan in Tipperary was mentioned as a great success story in online selling that others need to follow.

Michael Kyle of Kyle's Kitchen spoke about his brand 'Wrapsu'. He referred to Sheila's stage gate process and stated that he had approached a lot of gates and found them to be locked initially. He talked about the idea behind the product and that the 'wrap' was a form of food from the Orient. His product combined the wrap with high quality ingredients from Ireland. Michael said he is now at Commercialisation stage but it has taken a long time and he now needs to find a bigger premises to produce the volumes required.  The Wrapsu products (Beef and Pork) are on sale in selected Spars at present and he is planning new listings shorlty as well as 2 new skus.   

Jane Cassidy of Kilbeg Dairy Delights, was the final speaker. Jane spoke about the background to Kilbeg Dairy Delights which was set up 6 years ago.  They initially produced 2 products, a cheesecake and buttermilk, with limited success. They then decided to expand the range to a full dairy range and go after foodservice with much better results. They changed their quark product to a fat free version and this created great interest in the product. Slimming World were one of those customers who were very interested.  Overall their sales have grown greatly in the past year and Sheila will be assisting them to review their branding as they have now made significant inroads into retail, with selected listings in Super Valu and Tesco and interest from Dunnes, and are ready to export. They use a number of third party distributors for retail and foodservice and are close to achieving BRC, having up-graded their premises.

Jane described the ingredients required to be successful as: Passion; Self Sacrifice; Determination; Long Hours; Disappointment; Elation and Pride. She said you must: 1) Listen to your customer; 2) Recognise what they want; 3) Meet the Customers' Needs.  This echoes closely with Birgitta Hedin-Curtin said at the previous seminar in Cork.    

The seminar took place in room 2 of the conference centre in Teagasc Ashtown and ran from 9.30am to 1pm with light lunch served afterwards. 

Presentations are available on request.   Please contact Godfrey Lydon for more information. email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This project was made possible through a financial contribution from the European Regional Development Fund Ireland Wales (INTERREG 4A) Programme 2007 - 2013.  It was part funded by Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland. This article reflects the views of the author only and not those of the Programme Authorities.