Taste Cork is a regional branding initiative to promote Cork’s food sector and to develop a network for local food businesses.
Cork has more food companies that any other county in Ireland and a significant concentration of artisan food producers. The Taste Cork initiative was developed to support and nurture this important sector of the local Cork economy and aims to create a network between producers, restaurants, cafes, hotels, distributors and retailers to become an umbrella brand for those passionate about the quality of the products they make, serve or sell.
These aims are being achieved through the implementation of the Taste Cork 2021 Food Support Strategy which was launched in June 2016 with a work plan outlined for 2016 – 2021. There are four key areas of focus
1. The development of strong consumer communications
2. The provision of supports
3. The positioning of Cork as a leading food tourism destination
4. The development of clear routes to market for producers
The Taste Cork initiative is in Year 3 of this 5 year plan.
Taste Cork is business led, underpinned by governmental and academic support. The external review committee comprises representatives from the relevant state food support bodies and agencies such as Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Fáilte Ireland, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland as well as academia and the local authorities, Cork City Council and Cork County Council.
There are approx. 400 members of the network, the vast majority of which are food producers, although efforts to expand membership to foodservice (cafes, restaurants and hotels) are ongoing.
Annual budget of €100,000. A full time Project Co-ordinator was appointed in January 2016 on an initial 12 month contract. Oversight/ project implementation is provided by the staff of the Local Enterprise Office and internal stakeholder committee, who support the work of the project co-ordinator.
Evidence of success
Expanded its membership to 400+ members.
A website has been developed to provide an online hub to connect Cork’s food sector and act as a repository of information on supports
Taste Cork food festival was established generating €200k revenue in the local economy.
As a result of participation in the International Food and Drink Event in London 2017, the following metrics have been reported:
• 31 Food Companies Trained in Exporting best practice
• >€1m in new Export sales orders projected
The initiative is run by a small team which involves a degree of vulnerability to staff changes or departures.
The funding model involves an on-going commitment of resources from the local authorities.
Potential for learning or transfer
Taste Cork is considered a good practice as it takes the approach of taking the lead in a region and bringing all of the strands involved in the food sector under one umbrella brand to promote locally produced food.
Taste Cork is now seen as key support for the local food sector in the region, the food academy programme over the past number of years has seen the establishment of over 50 new food businesses with over 300 jobs, generating an annual revenue spend in the local economy of €12 million, Taste Cork brand has a key role in sustaining these jobs and businesses going forward.
Taste Cork offers other regions a template for an initiative that allows small local producers make an impact through a regional brand.
This initiative is under active consideration by Auvergne-Rhone Alps Tourism for transfer to their region.
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