Sunday, March 16, 2014

Always dreamed of being a food entrepreneur?


So you want to start a food business? Last year the Food Safety Authority of Ireland recorded an increase of 5% in the number of food businesses established in Ireland in the past five years. So despite recession there is plenty of optimism among food entrepreneurs. Maybe it's because of the huge success of the ag and food sector in Ireland, our active and growing food economy of both small producers and multinationals now exporting as far as Shanghai and Dubai.

Of course lots of us want to be a part of that, but do we have a clue what we're doing? I cover new food stories every week either as part of my radio or print work. Most of the people I meet are already established along the often painful food business journey. They range from dairy farms making ice cream to small cafes in rural towns.

But the failure rate in food businesses is notorius. And certainly people often enter the food world not fully aware of the basic facts of setting up and registering a food business and food premises, whether it be a new restaurant or your own kitchen. I went along to the FSAI's free seminar to advise new food entrepreneurs on what's ahead of them. And there's certainly plenty of interest.

With 46,000 food businesses already set up in Ireland, the FSAI received 1,278 business start-up queries received in the last 12 months. The group says the majority of these enquiries came from people looking to set up a food business from home.

The half-day seminar brought together an inquisitive audience to meet experts from the business of food. Talks covered everything from registering a new food business, food product development, food safety training requirements, setting up a food safety management system, labelling regulations, traceability, the food recall process, inspections and the information resources available from the FSAI.

It was both terrifying and satisfying, but every single person there learned a great deal and came out with their head spinning. It was fascinating how people found the information daunting but nevertheless still planned to go ahead with their food business ambitions, despite some having lets say, only the very roughest of ideas.

I reported on RTE Drivetime later with Mary Wilson and talked - with the high attrition rate, is it nuts to want to set up a food business? Here's the link -

http://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/radioplayer/rteradioweb.html#!rii=9%3A20516840%3A83%3A30%2D01%2D2014%3A

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    Food Safety Net Ireland

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