Our Pitch to Food Academy

When auto-piloting down the supermarket aisle I love nothing more than stumbling upon the locally produced alternatives … you know the ones, who create the most incredible, small-batch products using great quality ingredients. We had noticed a lot more of these guys popping up in our local SuperValu under the Food Academy scheme and were intrigued. We had come out the other side of the manufacturing process with Caroline and Jim and were happy with the flavour and texture of our product and were ready to start selling it to shops. However, we had no idea where to start, did we just go to our local retailers and ask them to stock our product? Did we need a distributor? How did we work out retail prices and margins? It was getting very real and quite intimidating. So, we met our Local Enterprise Office in Cork and they told us we should submit our product idea to try to get a place on the Food Academy with SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices.

Louise filled out all the applications and we crossed our fingers … a few weeks later we got the call to say we had a place! What a relief! The Food Academy is a 12 week course covering things like finance, pricing, new product development, food safety and labelling, packaging, routes to market, meeting buyers, marketing, branding, consumer propositions and PR. It was a god-send as it covered a lot of the material that we had huge knowledge gaps in and we had access to mentors with fantastic experience in the food industry … we had all the confidence that we would have all the knowledge we needed to approach a meeting with buyers and retailers after graduating. The final meeting was the scariest part … we had to pitch our product to a panel of SuperValu retailers as well as Musgrave representatives.

The Food Academy course was invaluable to us, we soaked up the information and mentor advice like sponges and worked hard on our pitch to make sure we covered all the points we wanted to in front of the retailers and SuperValu Food Academy representatives. We made and remade samples of our product with Caroline and Jim to make sure we were 110% happy with what would be going in front of them. We knew this was a mammoth opportunity for us and we wanted to make sure we put our best selves forward. It was ridiculously stressful in the run up but once we had it done we were delighted with the effort we put in and hoped that the panel liked our product and saw the potential for their business too.

We got the call last Friday to let us know that we have been accepted on the 6 week trial in ten of their stores starting in January 2016. Our hard work and perfectionism on the border of obsessive compulsive had paid off! We rang Jim and Caroline to thank them profusely for all their hard work too … but this was only the beginning!

– Aisling.

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