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The Irish Food Board (Board Bia) is urging Irish food manufacturers to take risks and experiment in product development by utilising the kind of “regional centres of competition” that helped make Silicon Valley in California the nexus of global software development, according to

The report quotes a Board Bia report “Pathways for Growth” saying Irish companies can stay ahead of the competition by innovation, brand building and “co-opetition”.

Co-opetition is fed by the idea that Irish businesses, academia and government should work closely together to enable it to maximise resources in an economy dwarfed by many other European and international countries.

The likes of Food for Health Ireland (FHI) (adding value to dairy) and Sea Change (adding value to marine products) are just two initiatives already in place that are built on these ideas.

“The report sets out a comprehensive agenda for change, based around the three central themes of collaboration, innovation and branding,” Aidan Cotter, chief executive of Board Bia, was quoted as saying.

He added that the detailed initiatives, when implemented, would contribute to the achievement of the vision for a world class food and drink industry over a three- to five-year plan.

The report is authored by Professor David Bell and Mary Shelman of the Harvard Business School. It can be found here.

It highlights a small-scale, fragmented food industry, low long-term investment plans and lack of consumer orientation in export markets, as key problems the industry needs to address.

The report suggest that Irish exporters should be encouraged to collaborate rather than compete (a strategy based around ‘Co-opetition’), while focusing on innovation leading to differentiated market positions and brand building based around customer feedback as a means to capturing greater market value.

The report suggests propelling ‘brand Ireland’ further into the limelight with the possibility of brand sharing, as branded products, it observes, can earn double the margins of commodities.


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