Food Academy

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.

Susan McLaughlin of Love A Little Sauces is one of two Donegal businesses that have been accepted onto the Food Academy programme.

Susan McLaughlin says she has already learned so much since The Food Academy got underway two weeks ago: “There is so much learning and it’s really in-depth; I’m particularly enjoying the marketing side of things and discovering how to streamline the brand and promote a food business like mine. We’re also looking at ways to grow and develop new product lines around key times of year, like Halloween and Christmas. I’m also working on the new website, so it’s all go, but very worthwhile.”

Caroline Doherty says she is also enjoying The Food Academy: “It’s only really beginning but I’m already finding that the way The Food Academy supports and nurtures small businesses like mine is so beneficial to every aspect of my business. The course is also helping to build my confidence and showing me how to navigate a clear pathway to getting our products on shelves in SuperValu. I’m really enjoying the whole learning experience.”

Since the Food Academy began, producers that have come through the programme have sold approximately €140 million 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, Wild Fuschia Bakehouse in Dunfanaghy and Shines Tuna in Killybegs.

Caroline Doherty of Sinless Snacks has also been accepted onto the Food Academy. She will now be trained through the Local Enterprise Office to help her food businesses grow in the retail sector.

We wish Caroline and Susan all the best with the next stage of their food journey. If you’ve been inspired by their success, then check out The Digital School of Food, which is the starting point for anyone wishing to set up a food business. Budding food entrepreneurs are encouraged to complete it before doing the start your own food business course, which often leads onto The Food Academy. Find out more here:

Our next Start Your Own Business Programme commences on Tuesday 20th October 2020 and will be delivered online over five weeks with two sessions per week from 9.30am to 1pm.

Book your spot here