Sunday 16 December 2018

Here’s how you could get your product on supermarket shelves

We all love a good foodie trend. Over the past few years we’ve juiced, spirallized and foamed our way through a growing number of weird and wonderful ways to eat.

One thing that remains a constant, however, is our interest in provenance. At a time when we can enjoy produce from around the world regardless of the season it’s becoming increasingly important to us that we know where our food is coming from; the closer to home, the better.

Supermarkets are responding to this demand for Irish-grown produce and retailers such as Lidl are constantly evolving their product range to include more and more Irish suppliers. 70% of the products Lidl stocks are sourced from within Ireland and it has created lasting relationships with established farmers, growers and manufacturers. Now, they are looking for the next generation of Irish food and drink producers.

Kick Start is a supplier development programme developed by Lidl in conjunction with Bord Bia. It gives Irish food and drink suppliers the chance to have their products stocked by one of Europe’s leading grocery retailers. As part of the programme Lidl will invest €200,000 into the development of the products and branding. Think of it like Dragons Den for food suppliers, only far tastier.

This unique opportunity gives Irish food and drink suppliers a national, and even Europe-wide, platform. It can be a game-changing opportunity for independent businesses that create wonderful products but need support in expanding their brand.

Irish herbalist Sean McCarthy took part in the 2017 programme and credits Kick Start with an increase in awareness for his product, Naturespharm Green Tea.

Sean McCarty.jpg
Sean McCarty

“I’m a start-up and it was a great opportunity to get exposure for the brand, because it is a new concept. It’s an instant powered tea so it’s relatively new to the market in Ireland,” he says.

“It gave us a lot more publicity and a lot more footfall. I could see it particularly on our social media as well.”

For anyone curious about the process, Sean sheds light on just how hands-on the experience is. 

 “After applying, they requested samples and they had a big tasting session with a panel of experts,” he says.

“They had a number of people test all the products and mine was shortlisted from there. There was a whole series of seminars about what they are looking for and how they develop their products. It was a real insight into how Lidl works.”

These seminars are a vital element to the application process and give suppliers an in-depth understanding of both their product and how this leading retailer works. The seminars cover quality control, marketing, PR, and brand building. The chosen suppliers will also benefit from Lidl’s expertise in packaging, making their product as impactful as possible when sitting amongst hundreds of other offerings.

As well as the guidance Lidl offers the shortlisted suppliers will also network with each other, gleaning valuable knowledge from like-minded business people.

“I’ve stayed in contact with other suppliers since. It’s good to share some ideas and some knowledge with people who might be further along the line than I am,” Sean says.

Niall Moloney also took part in last year’s programme. Pow Wow, the Greek Style Frozen Yoghurt he produces, has a bright future thanks to Kick Start and is now stocked in all Lidl stores.

“The programme was a great success and we are delighted to be moving to the next stage with Lidl,” Niall comments.

Niall Moloney

“The Kick Start programme was a great way to learn about how Lidl works. The workshops were ideally timed and were very informative. The Kick Start team did everything they could to ensure we were ready for the launch date.”

After participating in the seminars, the shortlisted suppliers will take part in the Best of Ireland showcase in September. From there, the chosen suppliers will be stocked in 192 Lidl stores across Ireland and up to three will be chosen to export across Europe.

Kick Start welcomes applications from across the food and drink spectrum. Lidl wants to invest over €200,000 in Irish suppliers to add to their existing product line of locally-produced food and drinks. Kick Start is an invaluable opportunity for producers to have their product seen by the very best in the business, and then for their brand to be on supermarket shelves around the country.

If you are a food or drink producer, take advantage of this exciting opportunity and apply for Kick Start now. The simple online application only takes a few minutes and it could be the first step in fast tracking your product to Lidl stores around Ireland beyond.

Sponsored by: AA

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