May Council Meeting Hears More about Love Irish Food

The second Food and Drink Council meeting of 2010 took place on Wednesday May 12th in Teagasc Ashtown and 4 speakers presented. They were: Sharon Colgan of Love Irish Food; Tony Duffy from Close Invoice Finance; Stephen Vard from the Vard Partnership and Art McGann from TradeWins.

Sharon Colgan - Love Irish Food: This is an industry initiaitive set up in 2009 to drive awareness of Irish manufactured food and drink brands. The campaign was set up to tackle the confusion that existed with Irish consumers regarding which brands were Irish. Over 70 brands, both large and small, and across 19 categories, have so far signed up to be part of the campaign. There will be heavyweight TV, Radio, Outdoor campaigns running throughout the year as well as the Love Irish Food website to promote members. The Chairman, Jim Power, will be releasing an economic report in June on the effects of Love Irish Food.

Tony Duffy, Close Invoice Finance: This company came into the Irish market three years ago and Tony Duffy is Director of Sales. He stated that Close Invoice Finance is very liquid and has money to lend, unlike most banks. He stated that they are one of the largest factoring and invoice discounting providers, specialising in the latter. Close aims to have 300 clients in the Republic of Ireland by the end of next year.

Stephen Vard, Vard Partnership: Stephen has 20 years experience working with Irish food and drink companies to develop their brands. He said that food companies account for the vast majority of his company's clients and he gave examples of the companies he has worked with. One particular example he gave was Codd Mushrooms in County Carlow. The Vard Partnership have developed the Honest Farmer branding around this brand. This branding appears on pack and they have developed a website around the brand as well - www.honestfarmer.com.

Art McGann, TradeWins: Art is the Managing Director of TradeWins, a company set up in the mid 1990s. TradeWins can help companies drive sales through merchandising, promotion execution, brand audits and other in-store support. He stated that TradeWins work with category leaders such as Kerry, Largo Foods, Tropicana (SHS), Tesco and Britvic. They have a couple of hundred employees and the employee profile has changed from housewives with children at school to younger adults. TradeWins, he stated, have merchandisers in every multiple store, every day of the week. They are in the top 50 stores 3 times a week and sometimes more frequently. They also deal with the Eurospars and bigger independents. He said that his employees are often like employees of the retailers as they are so well known and they have the same access. They also have an operation in the UK where they work on behalf of Glaxo Smithkline and smaller brands, where they have blitz teams that merchanise stands, do audits, take photos, check off sales, check newly listed products are on planograms etc.

Presentations available on request to members.