Wed 16th Nov 2016
Agri-food sector has the ingredients for success in export markets
Department of Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen has said the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland has considerable potential to grow in export markets.
The Minister was speaking at the latest ‘Danske Bank Export First’ event which took place earlier today (16 November 2016) at Genesis Crafty’s Magherafelt-based bakery.
The event formed part of the Danske Bank Export First programme, a business led support initiative by Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) in partnership with Danske Bank and airlines partner Etihad.
Speaking to an audience of 50 local businesses, Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen said:
“Northern Ireland’s agri-food sector is built upon the bedrock of family businesses, but as demonstrated by Genesis Crafty, our hosts today, the industry has the ambition and determination to grow and reach out into global markets.
“Despite being a geographically small region, we are able to punch well above our weight in the amount of high quality food and drink that we produce and the number of markets that we sell to. The industry set ambitious targets for itself in Going for Growth, and I am confident that working in partnership along the supply chain and with its partners in government, through events such as this, industry will achieve those targets.”
Attendees also heard the journey of the family owned bakery which produces a range of artisan branded and own label bread and confectionery items. The original business, McErlain’s Bakery, was founded in 1968 by the parents of the six brothers who are involved in it today.
From a simple home bakery founded on the premise: ‘Never sell what you wouldn’t eat yourself,’ Genesis Crafty has become a £22m operation, supplying top retailers in the UK & Ireland including M&S, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, the Henderson Group and the Musgrave Group.
Brian McErlain has been the driving force behind the bakery’s meteoric growth. Alongside expansion into new territories and innovative product development one of his greatest challenges was to transform what was once a small family business into an organisation with a distinct culture, clear goals and strong corporate governance.
Aaron Ennis, Head of North Business Centre at Danske Bank, said:
“Genesis Crafty is a fantastic example of a traditional Northern Irish family business which has managed to retain its focus on artisan quality while taking an innovative approach to new markets that has seen it grow into a thriving, modern export business at the forefront of its industry.
“It seems likely we will see some short term volatility in the world economy following the US Presidential elections and the Brexit vote to take the UK out of the European Union while new trade deals are being negotiated. But that should not put off ambitious local companies keen take advantage of opportunities to export their products and services to countries they have never sold to before.”