Business Support

Mid and East Antrim Food & Drink Network

Agri-food businesses have enjoyed practical workshops, best practice visits, mentoring support as well as visits and sessions from key industry experts through support provided by the Mid & East Antrim Food & Drink Network.

Council are keen to hear from local food and drink producers interested in becoming involved in future activities of the network.

To register your interest in the food and drink network email:

Food and Drink Network - Business Event Series

We are delighted to bring to you a series of practical sessions over the next 9 months!

Agri-food and drink remain a strong and resilient sector and a key priority focus for growth in Mid and East Antrim. Many of you will be aware that last year we commissioned the services of Birnie Consultancy to help us re-establish the network initiative to support the growth of the sector and champion food provenance, quality, and sustainability. As part of this work an audit was undertaken, which highlighted areas of support required, including marketing, finance and sustainability.

To address these recommendations, we have designed a tailored package of support and have partnered with stakeholders such as Invest NI and Food NI to bring you this business series.

This series is not only a chance to gain new business skills but also an opportunity to join like-minded individuals to connect, interact and engage in conversations around common interests that affect the agri-food and drink sector.

Confident pricing for profit

Tuesday 25 July 2023

This interactive and insightful workshop aims to equip business owners with the knowledge and skills necessary to establish profitable pricing strategies, ensuring sustainable growth and financial success.

Understanding the intricacies of pricing is crucial for businesses to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace. This workshop will delve into key aspects of pricing, helping participants gain confidence in setting their prices effectively. Led by highly experienced professional, Brigid Duggan, from BD Consultancy, this workshop will provide practical tools, strategies, and examples to enable businesses to make informed pricing decisions.

Facilitated by:

BD Consultancy has been in business for over 16 years and specialises in a wide range of Business Consultancy Services such as Business Planning & Strategy, Market Research, Business to Business Sales, Grant Funding Applications, Human Resources & Finance & Payroll.

SALSA Accreditation Sessions

Wednesday 16 August 2023

5 sessions dedicated to supporting you through the entire process of SALSA accreditation.

Funded by Invest NI and delivered on behalf of Food NI.

SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) is a food-safety standard written by experienced food safety experts to reflect both the legal requirements of producers and the enhanced expectations of ‘best practice’ of professional food buyers. It is aimed at micro and small food and drink manufacturers and offers a more appropriate standard than BRC Global Food Standard. Certification is only granted to suppliers who are able to demonstrate to an auditor that they are able to produce safe and legal food and are committed to continually meeting the requirements of the standard.

Commitment to attend all five sessions is essential.

  • Session 1 - 16/08/23
  • Session 2 - 06/09/23
  • Session 3 - 27/09/23
  • Session 4 - 11/10/23
  • Session 5 - 15/11/23

Places are limited so early booking is advised!

Secure your place here

Food and Drink Specialist Sales and Marketing Training with expert guest speakers Mervyn Jones & Andy MacLachlan

Tuesday 19 September 2023

This is a fantastic opportunity to gain experience from two industry professionals and get your questions answered.

Andy MacLachlan (Food2Market - Owner): an experienced Supermarket Trading Manager (ex-Sainsbury’s and Co-op) with current National Account Manager experience across ambient, frozen, chilled, fresh and BWS categories, ensuring he has current in market, extensive, hands-on industry knowledge (

Mervyn Jones (Mervyn Jones and Associates): has worked in Retailing and Buying for 30 years including 7 years buying with Asda and 14 years with the Henderson Group. Mervyn now runs his own company offering training, mentoring and account management to food and drink producers in NI and ROI and conducts training for Food NI, Invest NI, NIFDA, Innovation Factory, Aldi, and Lidl.

Funded by Invest NI and delivered on behalf of Food NI.

Places are limited so early booking is advised!

Secure your place here

Digital marketing masterclass (Social media for sales success)

Monday 2 October 2023

A practical workshop designed to enable you to leave with the know-how and key tools to gain sales via social media.

  • Gain tips and tools to raise brand awareness, drive website traffic, generate leads and sales.
  • Develop a social media strategy.
  • Define your target audience/customer personas.
  • Choose the most appropriate platform for your business.
  • Create engaging content, creating a strong. recognisable brand for your business.
  • Use social media features to increase engagement.
  • Utiise tools to make your content stand out.
  • Create a digital strategy and marketing plan.

Secure your place here

Digital marketing masterclass (Video creation and photography using your smartphones)

Wednesday 1 November 2023

In today’s digital age, video content is key for making an impact on social media. This is a practical workshop so ensure to come equipped with your smartphone ready to put in to action!

  • No need for expensive equipment, harness the full power of your smartphone.
  • Create stunning visuals and capture the essence of your brand.
  • Create authentic and attention-grabbing video content.
  • Examine prevalent trends amongst users in your target audience.
  • Stay relevant using a more laid-back approach.
  • Stay ahead of your competitors.
  • Expand into global markets through social media presence.

Secure your place here

Data-driven decision making

Monday 4 December 2023

Learn how the use the data your business produces to support you to make more effective decisions.

Use data to generate real-time insights and predictions to optimise performance.

How to use chat GPT to help to understand more about your customers and how to communicate with them in an effective manner.

Business agility so that you can pivot, adapt, and tackle challenges.

Reach a confident decision about virtually any business challenge.

Adjust your marketing message or even branch into a new market.

Make decisions based on logical facts without bias or emotion.

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Increase efficiency to maximise your profit

Monday 8 January 2024

Consider how the right technologies can give you a competitive edge and help make your business more profitable.

  • Improve efficiency.
  • Streamline processes.
  • Improve productivity.
  • Better customer service.
  • Gain better results without increasing your workload.
  • Improve brand reputation.

Secure your place here

Work smarter, not harder

Monday 5 February 2024

An unmissable event for local food and drink business owners/entrepreneurs to experience the power of speed networking, discuss challenges and look at opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and business growth.

  • Accelerate business contacts through facilitated introductions and conversations.
  • Rapid rundown (Each business will have 60 seconds to introduce their business and one challenge or opportunity).
  • Plenary sessions: - Circular economy. - Journey to net zero. - Foster innovation through collaboration

Secure your place here