Two Donegal businesses have been accepted onto the hugely successful Food Academy programme, which supports early stage food and drink producers and small food businesses who are just starting out. Established in 2013, the programme is run by the Local Enterprise Office in partnership with SuperValu and Bord Bia. Susan McLaughlin of Love A Little Sauces and Caroline Doherty of Sinless Snacks will now be trained through their Local Enterprise Office in this specialist programme to help them grow in the retail sector. At the end of the programme, both businesses will have the opportunity to graduate onto the shelves of their local SuperValu stores, getting a potential listing in one of Ireland’s biggest retailers.
Since the Food Academy began, producers that have come through the programme have sold approximately €140million worth of produce and supported 1,500 jobs across the country. The programme has graduated many well-known food and drink brands since it began seven years ago including The Happy Pear, Strong Roots, Dr. Coy’s Health Foods, Absolute Nutrition, Solaris Tea and Hope Beer. Donegal has had several Food Academy success stories including Derek Walker of Natnoot which grows certified organic wheatgrass and produces a range of cold pressed juice products that retail online and in SuperValu stores. Other Donegal success stories from The Food Academy include O’Donnell’s Bakery in Laghey, Simply Inish in Malin, and Wild Fuschia Bakehouse in Dunfanaghy and Shines Tuna in Killybegs.