Organisers say they'll make a loss on food sales at event
The team behind Web Summit has strongly defended food prices at the event after attendees took to Twitter to complain about costs.
A spokesperson said organisers were actually making a loss from meal sales at the Food Summit area this year.
The first day of the prestigious tech event was marred by reports of visitors paying €20 for a burger and water. More than 40,000 people were expected to attend Web Summit over the three days.
The event is offering a system of food tokens that can be purchased by attendees for Food Summit, where Irish produce is sold. Prices for tokens range from €20 for a meal, or €50 for three tokens if you were attending for three days.
A spokesperson for PSG Plus, which represents Web Summit, said 'Food Summit' was a celebration of Irish food which welcomed award-winning producers and vendors from all over the country. The Web Summit paid vendors €8 per meal, but the event made "no profit from the food sold".
"In fact, when costs of the Food Summit are taken into consideration, including venue rental, insurance, marquee build, electrics, staffing, security and site services, Web Summit makes a loss of approximately €10 per meal sold," it said. They added that the huge increase in those attending forced the event to charge for food.
"Due to the increase in scale, it was no longer economic to serve 30,000 attendees for free as we did last year," they said, adding that it spent €1.2m on catering for attendees.
Sinead Murphy, Director of Live Events at the Web Summit, said organisers believed the food on offer was "good value for what you get".
"Food has been brought in from the four quarters of Ireland - from Donegal to Cork," she said.
One attendee told the Irish Independent that the food was "amazing", but he was less impressed with the charge.
"I mean, it's €20," he said. "I got a hog roast, which was amazing, but I know other people got smaller portions."
Unreliable wifi was also noted as an issue at the Web Summit yesterday evening, although efforts to avoid this had been stepped up from last year.
Other gripes highlighted by ticketholders included the distance between different stages and exhibit areas and navigating the location.
In response, the Web Summit said the RDS was the only venue large enough to facilitate the event.