New Carlow food and drink strategy a 'recipe for opportunity'

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 Carlow’s recipe for opportunity with publication of Food & Drink Strategy

Cllr Tom O'Neill with LEO’s Maria Couchman LEO Office and Carlow County Council’s Rachel Doyle and Kathleen Holohan

“A recipe for opportunity” is how Carlow County Council cathaoirleach Cllr Tom O’Neill described the Carlow County Food and Drink Strategy 2020-2025 published this Wednesday.

The Carlow Food and Drink Strategy - A Taste of County Carlow 2020-2025 will provide a blueprint for growth for food and drink stakeholders in the county. The main goal of the strategy is to encourage the production, processing, promotion and consumption of locally produced food and drink so that Carlow can reach its full potential.

“County Carlow has a significant heritage attached to the food and drink sector and I welcome further support of the food and drink industry sector, which provides significant employment in County Carlow in particular as a result of Covid," the cathaoirleach said.

Rachel Doyle, founder of Arboretum Garden Centre, said: "A county’s food and drink sector has long been recognised as having the potential to unlock a differentiated county identity that can offer sustainable enterprise and employment development, whilst supporting a thriving local food and drink landscape. I am pleased to support the Carlow Food and Drink Strategy - A Taste of County Carlow 2020-2025, and especially the business training and advice planned for the sector."

Speaking on the publication, Carlow County Council chief executive Kathleen Holohan said strategy, delivered by the council and its Local Enterprise Office, is the first strategy of its kind, and has been developed in partnership with Carlow Tourism, Carlow County Development Partnership, IT Carlow, Carlow Local Community Development Committee, private industry interests, and County Carlow food and drink producers and stakeholders.

“The food and drink landscape in Carlow provides a unique identity for the county, as well as many opportunities for development both economically and socially," Ms Holohan said.

"This strategy provides a clear road map to support the development and promotion of this sector for the next five years.

"The creation of a food and drink forum will provide a platform for those most engaged with the food and drink sectors to work together for the greater good of Carlow’s food and drink producers, promoters, retailers and customers."

The chief executive concluded by thanking all the industry members, agency stakeholders and the executive in the economic development unit, in particular economic development officer Maria Couchman for leading the development of the strategy. 

The strategy takes into account a broad spectrum of Carlow food and drink stakeholders whilst also accounting for economic and social trends, particularly considering the repercussions of the Covid-19 crisis. It is laying the foundations for a sustainable local food and drink strategy that will benefit County Carlow for many years.

Prior to the production of conclusions and recommendations, the study undertook research work to understand food and drink production and promotion in Carlow, the business community and business environment, as well as food experiences and activities for visitors to the county.

Information was gathered through national and international interviews, visits, a business survey and through existing statistical datasets supplemented with business and tourism reports. Funding for the delivery of the plan will be provided annually by the Local Enterprise Office in Carlow County Council.