Mayo Food and Drink Showcase is a fitting finale
The hugely successful final event of the Mayo Food and Drink Programme, a Showcase and Meet the Buyer event, exceeded all expectations of both producers and buyers. Both were there to do business and it was clear from the outset that this event was exactly what was needed to make the vital connections between artisan producers and both distributors and retailers as well as agencies offering essential support. Enthusiastic networking was interspersed with relevant and interesting panel discussions and a keynote speech from Blás na hÉireann founder Artie Clifford. The event took place at Breaffy House Hotel on Thursday 23 June 2022 and was attended by 75 producers and buyers.
Programme Manager Oonagh Monahan acted as MC and first introduced Artie Clifford who had travelled from Dingle for the event. His engaging presentation covered his own chequered history as a small food producer, not hiding the pitfalls nor glossing over the challenges of the business. He wryly recalled falling into the trap of retail buyers early in his business life, embarrassed to admit he didn’t understand the terminology and accidently agreeing to impossible discounts. Perhaps because of this, his main message for fledgling producers is to have belief in themselves and their products. He urged artisans not to be afraid to admit when they don’t know acronyms or how the system works but to be confident enough to speak out. The Blás awards grew from his surprise that there was no formal awards system recognising quality in food and drink. He founded it 14 years ago and it has increased exponentially in both scope and size every year since.
“This is a fitting finale to a busy year of training and networking”, said Oonagh Monahan, “The Mayo Food and Drink Programme is all about helping producers to do business and it was rewarding to see that in action today. The feedback has been overwhelmingly good”.
Four lively and informative discussion panels consisted of chefs, distributors/wholesalers, retailers and food tourism representatives. The common thread carrying through every discussion was the importance of communicating clearly and regularly. Suppliers must talk to chefs, distributors and retailers keeping them informed of what’s happening and potential issues which arise. In this arena silence is most definitely not golden.
The Mayo Food and Drink Programme is a LEADER funded response to the challenges and opportunities identified in the Mayo Food & Drink Strategy 2025. It puts into action the specific priorities identified by producers and is totally food and drink focused. This was the final networking event but training continues for another month with some online classes and one-to-one specialised training and mentoring all of which is free of charge and available exclusively to Mayo food and drink businesses. Booking for these free courses is through the website www.mayofood.ie or Eventbrite and links on social media (@mayofoodanddrink).
The Mayo Food and Drink Networking and Training Programme is supported by South West Mayo Development Company and Local Enterprise Office Mayo.