Producers at the Cork and Kerry Food Market in Cork City Hall: Cyril Walsh, St. Patrick's Distillery, Sue Ellen McCarthy, West Cork Biscuit Co., Robert Atkinson, Longueville House Beverages, Eve Mc Kay, Eve's Leaves, Jean Baptiste Enselvin, Hegarty Cheese, Anthony Creswell, Ummera Smokehouse, Clair Kelly, Busy Botanist, David Doyle, O'Flynn's Sausages and Jade Ratcliffe, Jade's Chocolates with Kevin Curran, Head of Enterprise, LEO Cork North and West, Joe Burke, LEO South Cork and Tomás Hayes - Head of Local Enterprise Kerry. (Pic Michael Mac Sweeeney/Provision)

More than 15,000 people attended the Cork and Kerry Food market event in City Hall, Cork on Friday and Saturday with visitors spending over €180,000 on local food and drink products from over 70 artisan producers from the region. 

Since the launch of the first Food Market event in 2008, producers from Cork and Kerry have created more than 1,500 jobs with this number growing substantially since 2013 with the support of SuperValu’s Food Academy programme which gives local producers the opportunity to get their products on SuperValu shelves throughout Ireland.

It is expected that a further 200 jobs will be created over the coming 12 months as the region continues to be Ireland’s main hub for artisan producers, who are now also building export markets to bring the best of Irish food to Europe with a particular eye on mainland Europe with Brexit on the horizon.

Supporting local jobs

Speaking of the event, Joe Burke, Local Enterprise Office South Cork said: “The event is now recognised as the number one place to engage with new food ideas and discover all the best local artisan producers from Cork and Kerry. The year on year increase in attendance is proof that consumers are actively seeking out local produce and are happy to spend more on quality products which will support job creation locally.

“The Local Enterprise Offices and Local Councils in the South West have supported all of these producers with training, advice, incubation space and grant aid over the past 11 years with over 1,500 jobs being created by the food sector in Cork and Kerry in that time.

“With Brexit on the near or distant horizon we need to make an extra effort to support Irish producers and look to source alternative Irish produce as there is no guarantee that the food we normally consume will be available in a post Brexit Ireland.”

The Cork and Kerry food market is supported by a partnership including the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) Cork and Kerry, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Kerry County Council, SuperValu and Bord Bia.