Northern Irish Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill recently said that investment in skills was a key ingredient to help grow the local food industry.
The Minister was speaking as she launched a new training brochure for the food industry. The brochure highlights the range of training offered by the College of Food, Agriculture and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), Loughry Campus, Cookstown.
She said: “The local food industry is in a strong position with excellent prospects for continued growth. In order to maximise these prospects we need a highly skilled and trained workforce. I encourage food companies to avail not only of the industry training programmes offered by CAFRE, but also the food technology support services. In particular the Food Technology Centre at Loughry provides companies with superb facilities to conduct food innovation or process development trials.”
The guide details over 100 courses, split into key sections to help the food processing industry identify the courses they require to satisfy their business needs. Many of these courses are accredited to national and international standards, which help companies meet customer requirements.
The Minister continued: “Annually Loughry work with over 200 businesses from the food industry, ranging from entrepreneurs to established companies, across all commodity sectors. The experienced team at Loughry also respond to over 2000 requests in areas such as product and process design, factory design, technical problem solving, quality systems and training to name but a few.”
One example of a company who have benefitted from the support provided is Cloughbane Farm Foods. The Robinson family have been farming outside Pomeroy for four generations. In 2002 they decided to diversify and open a farm shop and have now developed a 10,000sq. feet meat processing factory.
Managing Director of Cloughbane Farm Foods, Lorna Robinson said: “Thanks to the invaluable advice and technical support from Loughry we were able to get our new factory designed and approved. Our relationship with the Campus has continued to develop with two members of staff studying part time education programmes. The training that they provide is a strong asset to the industry.”