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New survey shows three-quarters of Irish people have greater loyalty to local food product

Posted on: 08 May 2024

Almost three-quarters (72%) of Irish people feel a greater sense of loyalty to local food products, according to a new survey carried out by SuperValu. This sentiment is particularly timely with the launch of this year’s Food Academy producers, emphasising the profound connection Irish people have with locally sourced food. 


The Food Academy programme, a unique and tailored business development initiative for start-up and early-stage food and drink producers, was developed by SuperValu over a decade ago, in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Office. Since its inception, 11 years ago, more than 1,000 producers from all 26 counties of Ireland have successfully completed the Food Academy programme.   


21 new Food Academy producers will be debuting their products on the shelves of their local SuperValu store for the first time. Recent findings reveal that access to locally sourced and produced food holds significant importance for nearly three-quarters (73%) of Irish people. These findings further highlight the significance of initiatives like Food Academy, which focuses on offering the best of local and Irish products to consumers, throughout Ireland. This year's product lineup encompasses a diverse array of products, ranging from adaptogenic powders, 72-hour fermented sourdough bread to indulgent cheesecakes, savoury Latin snacks, hot honey’s, lactation cookies, Korean sauces, and even plant-based dog treats! It presents an exciting opportunity for customers to experience these new creations from a remarkable group of producers right in their local stores.


The Food Academy is a significant contributor to the overall growth and sustainability of the Irish food industry. Food Academy producers have sold a combined €230 million of products in SuperValu since 2013, supporting 1,500 jobs in the economy. The programme serves as a platform for showcasing quality Irish products and the innovative spirit of food and drink producers across the nation.


Speaking about the launch of this year’s Food Academy producers, Ciara McClafferty, Trading Director at SuperValu said: “At SuperValu, we have supported the Food Academy programme for over a decade now, and it is wonderful to see that talent and innovation continues to grow in this industry. We are always blown away by the level of applications each year and choosing the successful producers to come onto the programme is never an easy task – which in itself is a testament to the calibre of producers in our country. 

I would like to congratulate our 21 successful producers who are beginning their journey with the Food Academy this year.”


Speaking about starting her business and her experience so far with Food Academy, Jennifer Simpson, founder of Nancy’s Fancies based in Co. Tipperary said: “Being chosen for the Food Academy programme has truly been a career-defining moment for me! My innovative take on Nancy's classic bakes, featuring delights like raspberry & white chocolate blondies and hazelnut cream brownies, are all about pure homemade goodness – no preservatives or chemicals, just deliciousness. Crafting these gems in small batches in Cahir, adds that extra touch of authenticity. Baking has always been my passion, instilled in me by my grandmother Nancy, to whom I am eternally grateful. The Food Academy programme has been incredibly helpful in elevating my brand, offering valuable guidance every step of the way. Seeing Nancy’s Fancies on my local SuperValu shelves for the first time will be an unforgettable moment.” 


Sami Schmidt, Founder of Outdoors Herbalist, spoke about her business journey and the Food Academy: “I participated in Food Academy to deepen my understanding of the Irish retail sector. As a Venezuelan native, receiving guidance from experts in the Irish retail industry is invaluable for both myself and my business. Outdoors Herbalist, based in Kilkenny, produces powders such as Chill Out Chai, aims to reconnect with traditional healing, offering easy, affordable, and delicious daily supports for a healthier lifestyle, while uncovering Ireland’s Ancient Remedies. Food Academy has given me the opportunity to open new doors and will enable my products to reach a wider Irish audience.” 


Speaking about his experience in the food industry and the Food Academy, Niall Sabongi, Founder of Seafood Suppers said: "As a Dublin based chef, and a long-time advocate of local, ethical, and sustainable seafood, my passion has always been to explore the flavours of the sea.  Seafood Suppers aims to simplify the seafood experience for families, making it accessible and enjoyable. At its heart lies our signature Smoked Haddock Lasagne, a dish embodying family, flavour, and the essence of the Irish sea. Crafted from fresh, local ingredients in small batches, prepared by hand using classic cooking techniques to recreate a high-quality restaurant experience in the comfort of your home. Our aim is to make quality sustainable Irish seafood a staple in households nationwide and partnering with Food Academy has been pivotal in providing the skills and guidance to commence our journey into the retail sector.”