Fresh Produce Seminar – Opportunities For Growth At CAFRE

In conjunction with Horticulture Forum, Invest NI and Ulster Farmers’ Union, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprises (CAFRE), Loughry Campus hosted a seminar, focusing on the key issues currently influencing the fresh produce sector.

The overall aim of the seminar was to motivate and inspire this economically important sector and to further develop an understanding of the retailer, by their fresh produce suppliers.

The programme consisted of a diverse range of speakers. Peter Simpson, Head of the Food Technology Branch at Loughry Campus welcomed both speakers and delegates. Lorcan Bourke, Board Bia skillfully outlined the main market trends within the fresh produce sector; giving all delegates issues to consider. Christine Tacon CBE, the Grocery Code Adjudicator explained her the role in the supplier / retailer relationship. Christine highlighted key information around building and developing communication between supplier and retailer.

To encourage process innovation, the potential use of robotics and automation within the sector was addressed by Colm Higgins, from the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC), based in Queens University Belfast. Colm explained the role offered by the NITC in supporting local companies in increasing production efficiencies through the use of robotic technology.

The importance of product branding was addressed by Angus Wilson, Wilsons Country Potatoes. The importance of branding and how his company developed their branding was inspirational. Angus emphasised the importance of investment in branding and the need to periodically review.

The final speaker was Michele Shirlow MBE, Food NI. Michele discussed the role of the Northern Ireland food products within the UK and the wider marketplace, emphasising the respect which they have earned therein. Their inherent quality and wholesomeness has earned the N. Ireland food producers and their products many accolades and has contributed to the development of food and tourism programmes.

The seminar was supported by delegates representing all commodities within the fresh produce sector.

Follow up seminars, addressing topical issues are being planned. If you are interested in these, please contact Christine Haydock on: 028 8676 8143 or email: