Wexford working on becoming Ireland's food capital
Plans to make Wexford the food capital of Ireland are being worked on by members of the Wexford Food Family.
Marketing expert and mentor Paula Ronan, who is a founder of the Wexford Food Family, told the food family summit at the Ferrycarrig Hotel on Friday that the plan was something that the members were working on in consultations with tourism promoter Bettie Marie Burger Smit of Visit Wexford and the Brandon House Hotel, New Ross, and the Local Enterprise Office.
'We really need to work together in promoting the Wexford Food brand all over Europe. Everything we make here goes out and represents our county. We need to find a way to leverage that and to promote it more. We will hopefully have a very coherent strategy to make Wexford the food capital of Ireland if not the world,' she said.
Bettie Marie Burger Smit told the summit that Wexford is to have a national promotions campaign which will have a resonance nationally especially in April and May and through which food producers might push the Wexford brand.
She urged producers to as often as possible put 'Visit Wexford' on their website. Baby steps can have big results, she said.
Hotelier and sports pundit Liam Griffin, who was keynote speaker for the summit, spoke of the difficulties in growing business and the painful journey from being in poverty and having nothing to being rejected by the major banks to getting a loan at 22 per cent interest from a small bank to set up his own business.
'It's a lonely place. You need to be tough and you need to be resilient. We have shifted from being robbed by the banks to being robbed by the State.
He said that the government and governments of the world were failing to keep up with the rapid pace change. 'The future will be new technology and agriculture with a new kind of farmer. Small is going to be huge in the future. There's amazing opportunity,' he said.
Food summit chairman and a founder of the Wexford Food Family, Neil Murphy of Wexford Cheddar and Glanbia said: 'There is a growing sense of possibility in Co. Wexford. We believe that County Wexford is starting to come alive and work together.
'The Model County has so many brilliant quality food producers, dairy farmers, tillage and livestock farmers, fruit and veg growers, bakeries, Wexford beef and poultry, Wexford produced eggs, strawberry growers, and cheesemakers and so on.'
Presenting the first food family award to Des Pettitt of Pettitt's Super Valu, he said: "I think there is a massive difference between an independently owned store like Pettitts which is attached to Musgrave's Super Valu compared to the likes of Dunnes, Tesco's, Lidl and Aldi.
'All of those are important, but it is much easier for producers to get into the independently-owned stores because they are in the community and acknowledge where we are coming from. The likes of Dessie can see and meet the people behind the product and see what they are doing and where they are coming from. Going forward that is the way it is going to have to be,' he said.
Tom Enright, chief executive of Wexford County Council and Tom Banville, chief executive of Wexford Local Enterprise Office were among those who addressed the summit.