Farmer's markets can be a great way to do market research on food products. Photo: Shelley Pauls

Insight into starting your new food business

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) South Cork is holding a Start your own Food Business workshop, beginning Tuesday 6 October. This workshop will run each Tuesday for four weeks from 9.30-1pm and is facilitated by Conor Hyde of Bullseye Marketing.

The course will cover Brand your Product, Judge your Price Point as well as distribution, best route to market etc. The training is delivered by Zoom and completing the course is a requirement if you are considering entering the Food Academy Programme in future.

It also seems a good starting point if you like to join the Grow with Aldi or Lidl Kickstart programmes.

This course will not give you insight into how to run the business with finance support, tax compliance or a business plan etc. But if that is what you need, the LEO also offers these also. Check out and you will find a wide array of courses that will help you on your way to business stardom.

In case you are living in rural areas, rural development companies like IRD Dulhallow, Ballyhoura Development, Secad and Avondhu Blackwater Partnership also hold regular Start your own business programmes, many free for members. The Start your own Food Business programme costs €50 for all four sessions.

Starting a food business is not as hard as many fear but it’s also not as easy as many hope! There are a lot of regulations to adhere to and finding your way through the maze of rules can be heartbreaking.

You might have a product in mind you would like to bring to market; if you do, the first step is to get approved by the HSE. They will request that you have completed hazard analysis and critical control point (HAACP) training – different levels for different levels of risk factors.

Then an inspector will check on the premises where the food is produced and after all that, you will be able to sell your goods.

It can be rather difficult to get your product on supermarket shelves and joining programmes like the Food Academy and the Aldi and Lidl initiatives will increase your chances but I always recommend to clients to go to markets first.

Most farmer’s markets are full and operate a waiting list but most of them offer a community stand for either a week or if you are lucky, for several weeks. This will give you a great opportunity to check with customers what they like (or not) and you might be able to tweak a thing here or there.

In Cork, we have the Wilton Market on Tuesdays, Kinsale Market on Wednesdays, Mahon Point on Thursdays, Cobh on Fridays, Douglas, Midleton and Coal Quay Market on Saturdays and Blackrock on Sundays.

Community markets like Killavullen (every second Saturday) or cottage markets are a great alternative if you can’t get into one of the established farmer’s markets.

Which way you choose to go depends on your business model. Whether it might suit you just to sell to your local community and supermarket shelves are not your end goal, or you are aiming for world domination, the best start is to get advice from people in the know and attend the training programmes offered by the LEOs and rural development companies.

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