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BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Food Chains for Competitive Advantage aims to assist small to medium food and drink companies in addressing key market opportunities through innovation in new product development and branding in the food chain. The programme provides a complete package of assistance through delivery of tailored one to one mentoring and workshops that will lead to the development of new products in a range of Irish and Welsh SMEs.

The programme is run by the Irish exporters Association with the support of Bord Bia in Ireland and Menter a Busnes in Wales.(For Menter a Busnes website click here.)

OUTLINE OF PROGRAMME: The FCCA programme will be a combination of practical workshops and one to one assistance from NPD project managers who will have significant expertise in the specific areas.  The project is divided into 3 modules:-

Module 1 – Consumer Insight and Innovation Strategy
Module 2 – Practical NPD Project Management
Module 3 – Branding Design and Route to Market

Each module will be delivered by an appropriately qualified NPD project manager  with relevant experience.


This Module will ultimately deliver a workable innovation strategy which will be aligned with the company’s business strategy/plan.
The assigned NPD project manager will spend time with each company to understand and identify their business strategy and to develop a detailed innovation strategy, which the companies can use for their future innovation plans.  This will be facilitated by the completion of a number of workshops such as a consumer insights workshop to be delivered by Bord Bia, and, if necessary, focus groups, to give the participating companies  an understanding of how consumer insights is essential to the delivery of a successful new product.   At the end of this process the company will have a project brief which will give them clear guidance  as to what they need to be doing to develop a relevant product for today indicating the target market, USP, Product description etc. which will be essential for Module 2

This part of the programme will ultimately deliver a product that satisfies the criteria detailed in the project brief.  The NPD project manager will help establish an internal project team within the company and help them translate the innovation strategy/project brief into an acceptable product concept and develop the product to a point whereby it is ready to seek a route to market.  The companies will be guided by the NPD project manager, whilst implementing the NPD processes and procedures as outlined in the NPD handbook, to enable them to develop new products in a structured and meaningful approach.  This module will take the companies from the concept through to the product launch.

This module will ultimately produce a brand for the new product which will deliver on the original innovation strategy and project brief and create an opportunity in the market place.  During this module the NPD project manager will assist the company to create a brand/ packaging design for the new product ensuring that it tallies with the innovation strategy and the product being designed in Module 2. They will also ensure that the company has all the management tools in place to deliver a comprehensive presentation of the product and the company to the retailers/ customers and that the company will have a plan to deliver the products to market i.e. what, who, why, where, when. (W5 plan).
Ultimately the Food Chains for Competitive Advantage programme will provide a practical insight into the needs of the consumers and how companies need to interpret these findings to foster innovation in branding and NPD to increase their competitiveness in the market place.


1. To assist SMEs to address key market opportunities through innovation in new product development (NPD) and branding in the food chain which comprises of micro / SME producers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

2. Conduct research into consumer trends to provide insights.

3. Carry out research into the barriers to innovation in NPD and branding in a sample of SMEs.

4. Develop a practical blueprint on how to develop new products from idea generation to launch.

5. Assist to develop and embed innovative management practices via delivery of tailored one to one mentoring by experts, and workshops that will lead to the development of new products/management processes in a range of Irish and Welsh SMEs.

The key focus of the project will be on understanding the motivaions of the consumer and to enable:

  • New Product Development, initiating new product ideas, testing and bringing them to market.
  • Branding, the importance of brands, brand innovation and how to develop effective brands and drive awareness of these brands.
  • New process developments to ensure effective management practices are applied in manufacturing and marketing.

It is aimed that the project will safeguard jobs within the food and drink sector in the cross border area by improving the competitiveness of SMEs due to the development of a focused marketing strategy.

The Food Chains for Competitive Advantage Programme is an Ireland Wales European Regional Development project made possible through a financial contribution from the European Regional Development Fund Ireland Wales (INTERREG 4A) Programme 2007-2013, this article reflects the views of the author only and not those of the Programme Authorities.

For more information on the Ireland Wales Programme please click here

To see a full powerpoint presentation on the programme please click here.