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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Key figures in food industry descend on Brooklodge for Summer School

Published 30/08/2014 | 00:00

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Evan Doyle (TASTE Council, Brooklodge Hotel); Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Tom Hayes TD; John McKenna (TASTE Council, McKenna’s Guides); and Kevin Sheridan (TASTE Council chairman, Sheridans Cheesemongers) with Oscar the dog at the food summer school.

The fourth annual Food Summer School took place in Brooklodge Hotel, Aughrim on Monday. The day-long symposium, entitled 'The Future is Food,' brought together key stakeholders from the Irish artisan and mainstream food industry, media and academic institutions, to discuss the issues concerning the sector and its contribution to local and national economy and social fabric.

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Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Tom Hayes opened the event, which was organised by the Taste Council of Ireland in association with Bord Bia.

Speaking about the artisan symposium he said: 'Food is part of what Ireland does best, globally and locally. The value of Irish food and drink exports to 170 countries worldwide reached €9.9 billion in 2013, well on track for the Food Harvest 2020 goal of €12 billion. Locally, agri-food enterprises are intrinsic to the economy of each region and to the livelihood of 140,000 farms and fishery operations. The Taste Council Summer School at Evan's place (Brooklodge) is a great place for food artisans to discuss, reflect and act on the Future of Food.'

Foremost among the issues facing artisans and specialty food producers is the challenge of differentiating themselves when traditional language and imagery of the artisan has been absorbed by the mainstream.

'Farmers' faces, country cottages and terms like 'artisan,' 'homemade' and 'farmhouse' are now commonplace on the labels and promotional materials of industrially made food; the customer's desire to connect with real people and real food is being exploited by the marketing departments of multinationals. The genuine artisan producer needs to find new ways to stand out and demonstrate their authenticity,' said Taste Council chairman, Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan's Cheesemongers.

Attending the event were 150 of Ireland's artisan producers along with other members of the food community including chefs, retailers and educators. Also participating were leading Irish chefs Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and Jess Murphy (Kai Restaurant), journalist and food writer John McKenna, top artisan butcher Ed Hick, and Bord Bia CEO, Aidan Cotter.

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