Applications open for InterTradeIreland Support Vouchers

INterTradeInterTradeIreland have a range of supports available for SMEs to encourage them to plan for Brexit.

Research shows that Agri Food will be most impacted in the event of a hard Brexit, however very few have made any formal plans and we have noticed a low number of applications from that particular sector.

InterTrade supports are detailed on
In particular note, Start to Plan voucher, this voucher is €2250 towards training and/or bespoke consultancy advice in the areas of Customs/Supply Chain/Legal etc…

Eligibility includes :

  • SMEs less than 250 employees,
  • turnover less than €50million
  • have a satisfactory track record in home market
  • applicants should have a Brexit issue 

There is an online application form which only takes a few minutes to complete & applications are assessed within a maximum of 10 working days, but we are trying to get a decision turned around within a few days where possible.

For more details you can contact
Denise Marron
Project Manager – Brexit Advisory Service
Intertrade Ireland
T: 048 3083 4130 (From ROI) / 028 3083 4130 (From NI)




Preparing for Food Safety and Quality Audits – a practical approach

An interactive Food Safety Management Workshop
DATES: 6th and 7th March 2019, at University College Cork

Food safety and quality audits are a fact of life for all food business operators.  Multiple audits are a frequent occurrence in a single production year, as companies need to demonstrate compliance with requirements from different customers, regulatory inspectors, and standards bodies.FITU

Planning and preparing for a food safety audit takes time, resources and know-how. Several members of staff are often involved, especially if the food business is supplying to retailers, exporting, or preparing for accreditation to standards such as the BRC Global Standard in Food Safety, ISO 22000, or Bord Bia Quality Assurance Standards.

The aim of this two-day workshop is to help personnel to plan and prepare for food safety and quality audits and to engage effectively with auditors. A practical approach will be taken during the workshop, counting down from when the audit preparations start, right up to the day of the food safety audit, and afterwards to ensure close-out.

The workshop speakers will include a food business owner, a food safety manager, and third party food safety auditors who have a combined wealth of expertise in food safety management across different types of food production, as well as in food safety auditing, food production, and retail. The speakers are knowledgeable on the challenging requirements of different types of customers, regulations and standards. 

The workshop will increase confidence in facing important food safety audits and will help food companies to positively influence the outcome of the audit.

Who should attend?
Those in a food business operation who are responsible for preparing for food safety and quality audits and interacting with auditors. The workshop will be of interest to newcomers, as well as experienced personnel, in the following roles:
- T
echnical managers
Food safety and quality managers
Quality assurance personnel
HACCP team members
Production personnel involved in audit planning and preparation
Product developers and R&D personnel
Senior personnel who need to engage with experts in food safety management

The workshop will focus on
Requirements of food safety and quality audits
Expectations of the external food safety auditor
Audit preparation and priorities in the months before the audit
Critical food safety documentation
Critical food safety practices
Internal audits and system reviews
What to do in the weeks leading up to the audit
What to do on the day of the audit
How to follow up on the audit and manage the outcome

Digital Badge Award
Upon successful completion, you will be awarded a digital badge which can be used to support your CV and e-portfolio. A digital badge is an award which recognises your accomplishment in completing an unaccredited course and is referred to as a micro-credential. By taking part in the in-course activities and successfully completing the in-course questions you will qualify for a digital badge in Preparing for Food Safety and Quality Audits. The badge can be downloaded and included on CVs, shared via email or included on your e-portfolio (for example on LinkedIn). When a person or employer clicks on your digital badge they will see the specific details of the course, the process by which the course was given and if the course was successfully completed. Digital badges can be used to illustrate continued professional development and can supplement existing qualifications. Further information on UCC digital badges can be accessed here.

Lead Trainer: Dr. Catherine Halbert
Dr. Catherine Halbert is highly knowledgeable on food quality and safety, in particular auditing of food safety management systems. Catherine takes a practical approach to food safety; she has trained hundreds of people in the food industry over the past 20 years. She has helped clients to win accreditation to external food safety standards, including the BRC Global Food Safety Standard and the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Schemes. She was a lead partner in two EU-funded projects focusing on the food sector; STARTEC and TRADEIT. She is also a part-time lecturer for the Food Industry Training Unit in University College Cork on the Diploma in Speciality Food Production and Diploma in Food Science and Technology.

Invited speakers will include a food business owner, a food safety manager, and third party food safety auditors. Further information on the invited speakers will be provided in due course.

Course Fee
The cost of the course is €825 which includes tuition, course notes and templates, lunches, refreshment breaks, a class photograph and a UCC Digital Badge. This course will be part-funded for eligible applicants by Taste4Success Skillnet.

The workshop is limited to 20 people, as there will be a strong focus on interaction with the speakers and between participants, to share issues and successful approaches.


For further information please contact:
Dr Angela Sheehan
Food Industry Training Unit
School of Food and Nutritional Sciences
College of Science, Engineering and Food Science
University College Cork
Telephone: 353 21 4901423
Web Site:

Speciality/Artisan Food Marketing Workshop (Focus on Digital Marketing)

UCC Course
Blas na hÉireann, in partnership with the Food Industry Training Unit in UCC, are running this 1-day FREE WORKSHOP
Cost: Free – Limited to 20 places
Registration Deadline: 21st November, 2018
Award: All participants will receive a Digital Badge
Find out more details

Dr Angela Sheehan / Dr Amy-Jane Troy /

021 490 1423 / 021 490 2799

Cork Deliveries? Another kind offer!

Martin Higgins of Martin’s Homemade Jams has very kindly offered to assist any other finalist producers with deliveries.
He will be travelling from Cork on Tuesday 2nd of October (based in Mallow) and can assist with ambient product (entries would need to be dropped to him on Monday 1st)
You can reach him on 0863578609 or



A kind offer for shared delivery….

We received a very kind offer from David at Maud’s Icecream, based in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim to assist in any producers making deliveries fto Dingle for judging as follows;Contact: David Wilson
“I can make any necessary arrangements directly with them regarding receipt of their samples and transport to Dingle. Not a problem.  In some cases, we may even be able to arrange collection as our vans cover pretty much all of Northern Ireland.
Naturally, producers are very protective of their samples and don’t want to risk temperature problems during transport or rough handling so the following might help allay any fears.
Temperature Control:
Be assured, we have no issue with temperature control – our own ice cream is more difficult to transport than most other products simply because you can’t refreeze it if it melts. Our vans are all under 2 years old with refrigeration equipment capable of maintaining -24′c even during multi-drop deliveries on the hottest summer days. Same goes for the ambient/chilled compartments. All vans have trackers and temperature monitors that constantly report back to base.
We have acted as a collection point and transporter of the Irish (both north & south) ice cream samples for the Ice Cream Alliance’s annual competitions held in England for over 25 years. These entries included pots of ice cream but also elaborate and fragile artistic entries needing especially delicate handling and no rally driving.
How it works:
When the producer drops off their entries we will provide them with a receipt showing the number of entries they drop off, the date & time, signed by the person leaving the samples and signed by ourselves. We also show the producer exactly where in our freezer/chiller/ambient stores their entries will be stored and discuss any special requirements.
We scan the paperwork and email it straight to yourselves at the Irish Food Awards so you know in real-time what is being received here in Carrickfergus. We place a control sample of ice cream in the freezer and transport that along with any frozen entries to Dingle. The control sample of ice cream can then be inspected during delivery in Dingle and is a clear indicator of transport conditions during the journey. Like I said, our ice cream doesn’t refreeze well so the quality of this sample verifies the journey conditions. Van’s are of course logging temperature too.”

Blas at Gifted, Christmas Fair

We are delighted to let you know that Blas na hEireann will be back at Gifted, (The National Crafts & Design Fair at the RDS)

We will have a dedicated space for Blas na hEireann finalists and winners. The show is the largest indoor retail event in the country with over 40,000 unique visitors. The show runs for 5 days from the 5th – 9th December.

Blas na hEireann will be creating a dedicated, central space within the show and there are a limited number of spaces for past finalists and winners to book as follows;

Stands will be located within a central Blas na hEireann Stand Gifted
Producers will have 1m wide counter per exhibitor (individual branding on counter)
Central storage area

Cost: €900 plus vat per stand

How to book:
Please contact Fallon in the Blas office to register your interest by email to or indeed for any questions that you have and we will be happy to help.

Once registered the Blas team will connect you directly with the office at Gifted to arrange payment.


-All Blas winners and finalists who have not exhibited at the Fair in the past 3 years (ie 2015, 2016 & 2017)
-Alcoholic products can only be sampled but not sold at the Fair.
-Producers are not permitted to sell hot food or drinks, or any single servings of food to be consumed on the premises.


6 Thing’s I’ve Learned… a few words from Artie

Artie Clifford - Cropped (1)A little while back Artie was invited to contribute to Cara magazine’s column, 6 Things I’ve learned. The advice he shared is very much how Blas na hEireann runs day to day and we thought we would share it with you here…

1 Sharing is caring
I left school on Friday and joined the crew of a fishing trawler the following Sunday evening as a share fisherman. Sharing wasn’t so much about the money but about working as a team and sharing the workload, if you didn’t do your share then it increased the workload on the rest of the crew. Doing more than your fair share is like saving for the future, so when a time comes and you are overwhelmed by the challenge you face your colleagues are more than willing to ease your burden.

2 R-E-S-P-E-C-T
When you are young you learn self-respect by giving respect to others you gain respect. Although you may not agree with others decisions you should always respect them.

3 Lead from the back
Never ask colleagues to undertake a task that you wouldn’t do yourself, when faced with a pile of sh*te be the first to grab a shovel.

4 Maintain your ethos
When Blas was founded it was with 3 goals in mind. Firstly, to recognise the very best of Irish food and drink and reward the producers that made it, Secondly, to create a network of Irish producers who could work together for the common good and lastly, to help the consumers at home and abroad to find the very best of Irish food and drink. When a decision is made at Blas we go back to these 3 goals and make sure that the outcome is in line with them. At Blas we continue to grow, engaging in more and more events, from public showcases to networking and panel discussion events like the Backyard. With each new step we continually check against our 3 objectives, it helps to keep us on track.

5 Lend an ear
Listening to what others have to say is how we learn, by listening you will hear ideas and opinions you may not have considered and be better able decide how to move forward. Listening is hearing a message and should not be confused with receiving an order. So listen, consider and then decide.

6 Family
Lastly but by all means the most important is family, never make a decision until you have considered the impact on the family, yours, your colleagues and the people you deal with on a daily basis. If you make a decision that may have an adverse effect on family then you can be sure it’s the wrong one. In times of great difficulty the first ones we reach out to are our families and because we treat them with consideration, care and respect they will always be the first to offer their support.


Breakfast with Blas at the Burren Slow Food Festival

Burren Breakfast with BlasThe 14thBurren Slow Food Festival takes place this weekend from Friday 11 – Sunday 13 May in The Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare. We are delighted that on Sunday 13 May from 10am – 11am the organisers are hosting “Breakfast with Blas”.  

This event is an opportunity for Burren Slow Food Festival stallholders and visiting food and drink producers to network with one another whilst enjoying tastings of products from the Burren including a selection that have been awarded the Blas accolade.

In addition it will incorporate a 20 minute Backyard at Blas panel discussion.  “Be Pitch Perfect” will focus on how to capitalise on sales and marketing opportunities in a market environment.  It will be chaired by Birgitta Hedin Curtin from the Burren Smokehouse whose product portfolio boasts several awards.

This is a FREE event and if you would like to attend, please email your details to
We hope to see you there.

For more information about the Burren Slow Food programme of events, visits

The Backyard goes on the Road!

New_dingle food friday025As a result of a hugely successful event during the 2017 awards and in response to demand from producers, the Blas na hEireann team is delighted to announce that it is taking the Backyard at Blas on the road.  Backyard at Blas is an innovative space for individuals in the food and drink industry to meet fellow producers, gain knowledge and find support for your business.  Its objective to help producers grow and develop on a personal and professional level by hearing about the experiences of others, is complimented by an interactive platform that allows for networking.

Set in a relaxed, informal venue, hot topics are covered with industry leaders and experts in a number of engaging conversation panels followed by Q&As.  Throughout the day, attendees have the opportunity to grab a coffee and chat with key people and fellow producers. Lunch is also served.

Images from the 2017 Backyard at Blas

Images from the 2017 Backyard at Blas

The Backyard at Blas is on the road and coming to
The Seamus Ennis Centre in The Naul, Co Dublin  26th June
Press-ing Needs – how to get media coverage with a minimum budget and a little effort
Expanding on a hugely successful panel at the inaugural Backyard this event will focus on getting your story straight. If you can’t get your story across, you can’t sell your product. You need to be able to catch a journalist’s attention and know what they are looking for. It is devilishly difficult to get coverage these days but knowing what the media looks for is half the battle. So, too, is responding quickly to their requests and not badgering people. There is a world of difference between being dogged and being pushy.

Airfield Estate, Dublin 27th June 
Distribution & Logistics – how to get your foot in the door at home & abroad
This event will look at the challenges involved, from initial meetings with buyers (including how best to prepare and to understand your category) through to the logistical challenges of expanding your delivery network.

Full details are yet to be announced. As the events will have very limited places you can register your interest now, you will be offered first option to book the tickets as they go on sale

Register your interest to attend by sending your name and email through the online contact form 


What a BLASt – Radio Documentary

“What a BLASt – 10 years of the Irish Food Awards” produced by Sharon Noonan and Kieran Hurley was aired on UCC 98.3FM on Friday 16 March at 6.00pm on the eve of the opening for entries of the 2018 Blas na hEireann, The Irish Food Awards.

The first ever Blas na hEireann / Irish Food Awards were staged in Dingle, Co Kerry in 2008 as part of the Dingle Food Festival. The 45 minute documentary, which is funded by the BAI, meets Artie Clifford, who conceived the awards and explores how they have grown from a handful of categories and entries in the inaugural year to almost 2500 entries in their 10th year.

The judging process, which was developed in collaboration with UCC, is explained in detail by UCC’s Professor Joe Kerry. Other contributors include award winning chef, Neven Maguire and Ireland’s most respected food writers, John and Sally McKenna. Tribute is paid to the late Shane McArdle for his significant contribution to the food and drink industry in Ireland and beyond

Listen now