Appetite for Growth Conference – Driving Innovation with Big Data


The fifth annual ‘Appetite for Growth’ Conference will bring together leading industry experts to explore how data and information can be used to drive innovation and sustainable growth within the local food and drink sector.

Organised by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and supported by Invest Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland and Sysco, the free-to-attend Conference will take place at the Craigavon Civic Centre on 22nd September from 8.30 am to 2.00 pm.  Additional sponsors of the event include Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and Deloitte. Over 100 delegates from the business and agri-food sectors across Northern Ireland are expected to attend.

Headline speaker Dr Clive Black, Head of Research at Shore Capital, returns to the Conference for a second year to deliver an in-depth masterclass on the future of the retail sector in the UK.  The conference will also see the launch of a specially commissioned report into the impact of Brexit on the local food and drink sector.

Utilising information and data for the benefit of food manufacturers and producers will be a key theme of the day, with Sysco’s Tony Brown looking at how data can be used more efficiently by the sector. Dr Geoff Simmons, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Management School will deliver a session regarding ‘Customer Science’ company dunnhumby which advises businesses on using data to influence customers and earn their loyalty; and Bank of Ireland will speak on ‘Financing 21st Century Food Exports.’

Michael Bell, Executive Director of NIFDA, commented: “This event offers an excellent opportunity for forward thinking food and drink companies to hear from experts on a range of topics which are relevant and valuable to their businesses.  It is very much an interactive event, with delegates being given the opportunity to have their say on topical issues as well as directly engaging with the speakers.

“Our target is to grow our industry’s turnover to £7bn by 2020 and create 15,000 new jobs as outlined in the ‘Going for Growth’ report.  With challenges such as fluctuating global markets, increased competition and Brexit ahead, it is imperative that companies look for ways to innovative, export and stay ahead of the curve if we are to achieve these ambitious targets.  This event aims to provide companies large and small with vital knowledge and advice which can be directly applied to their own business models, and we would encourage those interested in attending to register as soon as possible.”

Invest NI’s Director of Food, John Hood said: “Acquiring customer insights is a valuable resource for the Northern Ireland Food and Drink industry in enabling our companies to gain a trading advantage. The joint project between Queen’s University Belfast and the University of East Anglia, which Invest NI is supporting, will help to build stronger and more effective relationships between food producers, food processors and retail sectors. This conference is a valuable platform to raise awareness of this initiative that will enable our companies to perform professionally in today’s highly competitive retail environment.”

William Thompson, Head of Agri, Bank of Ireland UK, said: “We are delighted to support this event as it offers local food and drink companies with valuable tools and advice on how to grow their businesses at home and abroad. Our local food and drink sector is a hugely significant part of the economy and the opportunities to grow it further should be fully exploited. Despite the challenges that many businesses have experienced over the past 18 months, Bank of Ireland UK remains committed to supporting our agri-food customers and our plans to continue growing our presence in the regional market remain unchanged.”

Tony Brown, Commercial Manager for Sysco Software said: “Most agri-food businesses are operating within an extremely fast-paced, competitive environment producing high volumes of low value products. This environment is driven by global market forces, regulatory requirements and changing customer demand. It is crucial that these businesses drive change in the areas over which they do have control. We’re committed to helping businesses improve their competitiveness through giving them access to relevant and accurate customer data which will improve business planning and help them stay ahead of the competition.”

For more information and to register for the conference please visit www.nifda.co.uk/afg16 or contact Morrow Communications on 02890 393837.


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