Conor Hyde, managing director, of Bullseye Food Marketing, details his predictions for the agri-food sector.

Over the past 12 years, since 2001, Bullseye Food Marketing has provided consultancy, training and mentoring support to the Irish SME food sector, and numerous Irish state enterprise and development agency clients. Bullseye is recognised as a world-class provider of food marketing, food training and food business development solutions. This year saw Bullseye open its very first overseas office, in France, to help Irish food exporters to enter the French and wider mainland EU marketplace.

Hyde outlined the business operation: “Bullseye’s small team of five food marketing experts have more than 100 years of food business experience between them. We provide a customised range of outsourced food marketing support services that encompasses every aspect of running a successful food business, from specialist food business training, to strategic planning, to new product and packaging development, to food exporting, and much more.”

On the surface, the burgeoning Irish food sector growth trend appears to be a logical consequence of Ireland’s recent re-discovery of the wealth of local food produce and artisan heritage to be found right here on our doorstep.

However, Hyde, believes the nation’s new-found enthusiasm for local Irish food produce is not quite accidental.

“While Ireland’s Celtic tiger years saw builders, architects, engineers, surveyors and financial services professionals benefit from a surge in employment; the Recession has now driven many of these professionals into Ireland’s artisan food and agri-business sectors. The food sector is now becoming a new focal point for new graduates and those embarking on a professional career change,” said Hyde.

Hyde highlights the 2013 CAO figures that reveal that the highest increase in applications for third-level courses last year was seen in food-related courses. What’s more, according to the Bullseye managing director, there’s also considerable evidence that many new food start-ups are being created by people who have recently found themselves unemployed.

Hyde outlines how a significant number of food entrepreneurs that he’s worked with over the past three years, are individuals who are finally taking the plunge by following their passion for all things culinary:

“At the moment, I’d estimate that about 80 per cent of new clients I meet would be entrepreneurs who always had a love of food and are now deciding to centre their careers on this area. These are people who have always harboured a passion for working in the food business and they’re now realising that it’s a viable career option.

Despite coming from non-food industries, the majority of these clients are extremely well-placed in terms of background and experience. The food industry certainly requires specialist knowledge and skills, however, there’s always some form of transferrable experience that can be utilised by newly established food entrepreneurs who’ve decided on a career change. We’ve worked with clients from accounting, engineering, law, management, administration and construction backgrounds,” ascertained Hyde.

Based in Cork, which is home to over 50 per cent of Irelands food and drink businesses, Bullseye Food Marketing has worked with hundreds of Irish food companies over the last decade, since 2001. These pioneering new start-ups all over Ireland have helped to pave the way for further, rapid SME food sector growth.