THE IMPORTANCE of the Fingal area as a major and growing hub for the food sector was highlighted at one of the most important gatherings of the year for businesses involved in Ireland's food sector.The Dublin Food Forum was hosted by Keelings and FoodCentral in St. Margaret's, close to Dublin Airport. The theme of the event 'Growth, Innovation and Collaboration in the Food Industry' was stressed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton who spoke of the importance of export growth and maintaining and creating employment in the food sector. William Keeling, Managing Director of FoodCentral, said: ' The collaboration between upand-coming food producers and established food companies has been clearly evident at this important event, which we were delighted to host, all under the same roof at FoodCentral. By building on the current success of FoodCentral, it can become the sustainable gateway for Ireland's food and drink industry.' The Dublin Food Forum took place as part of Fingal Enterprise Week, which was organised by Fingal County Enterprise Board and supported by Fingal County Council, Bank of Ireland and Newstalk. Dublin Food Chain is a collaborative initiative of the Irish Exporters Association and the Dublin-based County and City Enterprise Boards and is part of an ongoing effort to harness the power of the 'collective', in order to ensure that Co. Dublin's unique food heritage benefits from the attention it deserves. FoodCentral was established last year in order to cluster food and drink companies together at a strategic location. That location is close to Dublin Airport, the main motorway network and Dublin Port Tunnel for ease of distribution and sourcing raw materials. It already employs 1,000 people and 75 per cent of Ireland's retail food distribution operates within 25km of FoodCentral, highlighting the importance of the Fingal area for the industry. Currently located in FoodCentral are three major players in the food industry – Keelings, Donnelly and Brakes. Oisin Geoghegan, CEO of Fingal County Enterprise Board, said: 'Fingal is recognised as a major hub for Ireland's food sector due to a combination of factors. ' The region has a highly developed horticultural background and benefits from a unique location, home to the nation's main international airport and a gateway to the national road network, close to Dublin port and the north-south economic corridor.'