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Donegal County Enterprise Board’s food initiative -March 9th at 6pm in the Silver Tassie hotel, Letterkenny

More of Ireland’s leading food experts on way to Donegal!

Donegal's food businesses are invited to meet and learn from some of the country’s leading food experts who are coming to Letterkenny to explain how local producers, retailers, hotels and restaurants can give their businesses a shot in the arm. The special event, called “Food ... finding your way to the customer”, is being organised by The Food Coast, Donegal County Enterprise Board’s food initiative and takes place on Wednesday March 9th at 6pm in the Silver Tassie hotel. The keynote speaker is James Burke, the former Group Purchasing Manager and board member at Superquinn, who is widely recognised as one of the country’s top advisors on marketing for the food sector. Other speakers will include Mary Ann O’Brien of Lily O’Brien’s chocolates and Alan and Valerie Kingston of speciality food producers Glenilen Farm. The evening will include a free food tasting of the finest Inishowen and Donegal produce and a networking session open to members of the public.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone involved in food production or retailing in Donegal to learn how to boost their business this year” said Danny McEleney, Business Advisor at Donegal County Enterprise Board. “We have secured some of the top names in the Irish food industry to share their insights into growing a successful food business”. Donegal County Enterprise Board is co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.

James Burke is Ireland’s leading consultant within the food manufacturing and retailing sectors. He has worked in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) area for over 23 years, with much of that time spent at Superquinn. He began in the operations side of the business, before being promoted to head office where he eventually became Group Purchasing Manager and Trading Manager, responsible for a €250 million budget. He was subsequently invited to join Superquinn’s Board of Directors. Since leaving the supermarket chain he has provided strategic and business advice to some of the best known companies in Irish retailing including Aer Rianta International, The Kilkenny Group, the Dublin Airport Authority and Avoca. James will be hosting the special event and will also provide keynote speeches on product innovation and on bringing new products to market.

Mary Ann O’Brien is one of the most successful female entrepreneurs to emerge in Ireland in the past twenty years. Having started Lily O’Brien’s chocolates in her small Kildare kitchen in 1992, she has grown the business into one of the country’s most recognised global brands. The company, which employs more than 100 people, is Ireland’s premier chocolate manufacturer and a leading brand within the UK chocolate category. Lily O’Briens produces 180 varieties of chocolates at a rate of 60 tons per week and exports 80% of its produce. Mary Ann will describe how she developed her business and provide her views on how local Donegal food businesses can boost their growth and profitability.

Alan Kingston’s family had been tending the same small dairy farm for generations when his wife Valerie began making cheesecakes for the local country market in 1997. Since then they have built the Glenilen Farm brand into a thriving business, selling a growing range of products to stores across Ireland and the UK. Alan and Valerie will describe the key steps in establishing and growing their business and share some lessons they think will be useful for local farm producers.

The event, “Food ... Finding your way to the customers” is one of a series of seminars and workshops taking place to mark Enterprising Donegal Business Week 2011, which runs from Monday 7th to Friday 11th March.

For further information about attending this event or other events during Enterprising Donegal Business Week 2011 contact Celine Carroll, Donegal County Enterprise Board on 074 9160735 or email

Alternatively, you can visit the Donegal County Enterprise Board’s website at or the Facebook page

Thanks to Annmarie Doherty at for this Information

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