The gateway to growth for Northern Irish food and drink producers

With a spend of over £500 million on local produce per annum, it is clear that supermarket giant Tesco puts local produce first and places local producers at the heart of its operation.

Since 1997, Tesco Northern Ireland has put local producers at the heart of its operations and is a proud and vocal supporter of indigenous food and drink businesses. From initial annual purchasing value of £50 million per annum to the annual current purchasing amount in excess of £500 million, it is clear that Tesco Northern Ireland is the number one retail champion of local.

For two decades, it has been steadfast in its support of local producers and was the first major retailer in Northern Ireland to do so. As a result, it boasts a considerable and long-established contribution to the overall local economy, the various micro economies in agri-dependent regions and the continued growth of Northern Irish food and drink businesses.

Seen by many suppliers as the gateway to growth for their business, Tesco Northern Ireland not only helps propel the most beloved brands to a national stage, it also deeply invests in and nurtures young start-up businesses, helping them bring their products to mass market by facilitating access to consumers through in-store sampling and exhibition opportunities.

As we enter the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016, Tescos commitment to these brands, both known and unknown, will reach new levels, with the retailer committing to a packed schedule of activity, which will see consumer exposure to local products heightened.

Whether it is the chance to benefit from in-store sampling and food fairs across Northern Ireland, or even marketing and PR support in the form of video and media content, Tescos suppliers will be left in no doubt that the retailer is a key part of their success story especially for new suppliers just embarking on their journey.

Investing in the future

The Tesco Northern Ireland Artisan programme, in particular, has been credited by many, (stakeholders and businesses themselves), as the perfect platform for young and ambitious brands to bring their products to mass market.

Consisting of in-store pop-up shop opportunities and support through the buying process, the Artisan programme helps fledgling businesses get their products in front of consumers and hopefully, on the shelves. A popular aid for new businesses, these pop-up shops will be ramped up during the Year of Food and Drink and form a core element of Tescos fit-to-burst activity plan.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell said of the programme: Tesco NI’s ‘pop-up’ sampling scheme offers a valuable test marketing opportunity for smaller food and drink producers from across Northern Ireland.

Were in the business of encouraging fresh, young business talent to succeed and with schemes like this there to provide guidance, help and support, its a recipe for success.

Northern Ireland consumers are strong supporters of local brands and Tesco Northern Ireland has always been ahead of the curve in its acknowledgement of this and its unwavering support for local products. As we enter the 2016 Year of Food, showcasing products in established retail outlets is a great way to encourage product trial and build brand awareness for the lesser known brands of Northern Ireland but also to encourage business growth in what is undoubtedly the Provinces most enriched and flourishing sector.

From inspiration to celebration

For Karen Boyd, a mum-of-one, she had inspiration for an innovative pizza product yet no previous experience in the field. She found the help and support of Tescos Artisan Scheme invaluable, leading to a £250,000 deal of a lifetime with the retailer. Speaking about the conception of Pizzado, she said: Like most small businesses, Pizzado was created in 2011 around a coffee table with friends.

We were first able to get it in front of consumers through in-store sampling opportunities with Tesco and from a very early stage we knew that Pizzado was going to be a popular product after carrying out taste tests. The positive feedback and high demand proved that a multiple was the best retailing vehicle for us, and we got off the ground by securing a major deal with Tesco Northern Ireland.

Karen continued: We are delighted to now stock our product in 24 Tesco stores across Northern Ireland.

Eight years of Taste Northern Ireland

A focal point of the Northern Ireland events calendar, Tescos Taste Northern Ireland festival will be back for its eighth year and, within the Year of Food and Drink, promises to be the best and largest celebration of local food.

An unrivalled platform for local suppliers to showcase their range of products, whether craft beers, iconic crisps or artisan cheeses, the Taste NI event has become synonymous with local drawing in 25,000 consumers from across Northern Ireland and beyond, over a three-day period, to celebrate the quality and range of food and drink produced in the Province.

Local truly has a huge emotional tag for the people of Northern Ireland, with most market towns cherishing their second and third generation food businesses including bakeries, butchers and distilleries all of which have a long and proud history here.

Relationships at the heart of business

Brendan Guidera, Tesco Northern Irelands Stores Director, said: Our Newtownabbey-based buying, marketing and technical team understands what our customers want in Northern Ireland and so can help potential new suppliers and keen artisan producers shape and craft their products with the consumer in mind. We pride ourselves on the level of tailored support on offer to suppliers or those who want to become suppliers.

In addition to the quality of the products on our shelves, it is the strength of our relationships which are at the heart of our success. We are proud of the relationships we forge with suppliers. Many of our suppliers have been in partnership with us for 20 years. Long-term relationships provide certainty, which allow suppliers to continue to innovate and invest for future growth, a process that can take years to produce commercially viable volumes.

Having good relationships with suppliers is crucial to our business. Our supply base is diverse and varies from suppliers with turnovers of less than £500k, to large international suppliers with turnovers of tens of millions of pounds. Irrespective of size and scale, we look to work with those who share our passion for Northern Irelands rich and enviable cache of local products.



Marketing Manager,


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