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Starting your food business

How to get your business idea off the ground and up and running.

Marketing your business

Managing your costs and keeping everything in check as you work.

Insights for Business

Find out about markets, trends, products and categories.

 Support Agencies 

This section covers all of the contact details you will need in the research for your new business and includes state agencies, legal and regulatory bodies and sources for consumer and market research.

Initial Information, Assistance and Advice for Entrepreneurs:

State Agencies:

  • Your first point of call should be your local County Enterprise Board (CEB) for advice, mentoring, business plans and training programmes tailored to start-up businesses. Please see the resourcing your business section on guidance to seeking funding through grant aid from County Enterprise Boards. The main criteria for County Enterprise Boards is <10 employees.
  • Enterprise Ireland (EI) encourages and supports new High Potential Start-Up businesses (HPSUs). The main criteria for EI is >10 employees and companies either already exporting or planning to within a short period of time with turnover in excess of €1m. Please see the resourcing your business section on guidance to seeking funding, mentoring, advice and training as well as grant aid from EI.
  • FÁS provides a range of training and employment programmes, an employment service, as well as an advisory service for industry. Visit the FAS website for further information. 

Specific Food Related State Agencies:

  • Bord Bia - your first contact should be with Bord Bia for consumer and market research and to let them know that you are starting up a food business. Bord Bia has a wide range of services available to established food companies. Please see the <business planning section> for further information on Bord Bia’s Marketing Assistance Programme Grant. 
  • Teagasc - primarily agri-food-focused, Teagasc offers training courses at the Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin and the Dairy Products Research Centre in Fermoy, County Cork, aimed at strengthening in-company capabilities in quality systems, food safety and hygiene, food technology and product development and marketing. At a local level, Teagasc provide food courses and rural business innovation courses aimed at start-ups and they also have a number of regional artisan food / rural tourism advisors. Teagasc also has some food company incubation units.
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food - The Department's mission is "to lead the sustainable development of a competitive, consumer focused agri-food sector and to contribute to a vibrant rural economy and society." Schemes the Department currently operates include:
    • Direct Payment Schemes
    • Market Support Schemes
    • Horticulture Schemes
    • REPS Schemes
    • Organics Schemes
    • On-Farm Investment Schemes and Young Farmers Installation Scheme
    • Poultry Schemes 

For Consumer and Market Research:

  • Bord Bia - contact the small business team and/or Information Services. 
  • Intertrade Ireland (ITI) is the business development body, promoting North-South trade by building business capability and competitiveness. ITI can also assist you with consumer and market research (See the <business planning> section for further information) and funding to both research and sell your products in the border counties and Northern Ireland (See the <Resourcing Your Business> section for further information. 
  • Central Statistics Office (CSO) The CSO website contain demographic information which will be very helpful to you in carrying out consumer research (See the <business planning> section for further information) 

For Quality Standards:

  • Health Service Executive (HSE) for contact details of your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO), necessary for start-up food companies (See the <Step-by-step guide to starting a food business> for further information). Key in “Environmental Health Officer” in the search engine for further information
  • Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) for up to date information on labeling requirements, making health claims, an updated list of allergens, new EU regulations etc. (See the <Step-by-step guide to starting a food business> for further information)
  • European Food Safety Authority is the EU Food Safety Authority. Monitor this website for changes in legislation to be introduced to the EU or new legislation which you need to prepare your business for.
  • National Standards Association of Ireland (NSAI) contains Information on National Standards and Certification including the ISO qualification for food companies. 

For Labeling:

  • GS1 for licensing, costs and formatting of barcodes - essential for the retail market. 

For Legal Issues:

For Trademarks:

  • The Irish Patent Office – You need to run a search for your brand name and advice on registering it in Ireland and/or the EU with both the Irish Patent Office for Ireland only Trademarks and the European Trademark Office for Community Trademarks (CTMs) which cover all 27 EU countries including Ireland. See the <Legal Issues> section for more details. 
    - for Irish Trademarks
    - for CTMs

For Marketing:

  • Media Contact – for a directory of contacts in the media for PR campaigns.
  • IEDR (IE Domain Registry) for Irish domain names is an independent not-for-profit organisation that manages the .i.e. country code Top Level Domain namespace.
  • The Irish Internet Association (IIA) is a good resource for a search for web developers and Internet Service Providers.

Rural Development Agencies:

  • Irish Leader Network – a network of 36 Local Action Groups dedicated to the promotion of sustainable rural communities and driving Rural Development in Ireland. Provides training, mentoring and grant aid to food companies based in rural areas. 
  • Údarás na Gaeltachta - Provision of financial and non-financial assistance in the Gaeltacht regions.
  • Shannon Development - Regional development agency responsible for development in the Shannon Region (Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary, South West Offaly and North Kerry). 
  • Western Development Commission - The WDC is a statutory body promoting economic and social development in counties Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare.

Food Networks:

  • Skillnets - Funded from the National Training Fund, Skillnets is an enterprise-led support body whose mission is to enhance the skills of people in employment in Irish industry to support competitiveness and employability. for information on Skillnets in general and for the food skillnets
  • 315° Foods - The 315° Food Network aims to develop a progressive, receptive and innovative food sector within the counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Cavan, supported by the CEB's in those counties.

Funding Available from Other Agencies

There are a number of funding options available from CEB's to EI.  Read more...

Further Reading is an online resource providing start-up news and advice.  Read more Start-Up Kit...