SuperValu supports local as 15 Food Academy producers are listed in-store

Aisling Cullen of Thanks Plants, with her children Aida (5) and Sebastian (3)

Programme helps early-stage Irish food and drink businesses to secure their start in the food retail sector with first supermarket listing



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19 May 2020

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From today, SuperValu will sell products from 15 new Irish food producers who have successfully completed its Food Academy programme.

Now in its seventh year, SuperValu Food Academy is a unique food business development programme between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). Participants in the programme receive training in market research and branding, food safety, marketing, finance and business development.

The programme helps early-stage Irish food and drink businesses to get their start in the food retail sector with their first, all-important supermarket listing in SuperValu. For the 15 food start-ups, today marks the culmination of a journey that began back in October 2019 when they started the SuperValu Food Academy training programme and completed a series of training and mentoring courses.

This support for local is all made possible by SuperValu’s independent retail model, whereby retailers can give SuperValu Food Academy members access to one or a small group of stores, allowing them to manage demand as they grow their operations.

One of the food start-ups to list in SuperValu is Thanks Plants, a 100% plant-based, handmade vegan sausages brand. Produced locally in Ireland, Thanks Plants is a tasty and wholesome option for vegans and anyone trying to reduce their meat intake and is available in a number of varieties, including apple and sage; sundried tomato and herb and a frankfurter option.

Aisling Cullen, who set up Thanks Plants, said the help of SuperValu over the last six months, has allowed her to develop a unique product. “Without the help of Food Academy, I would not be where I am now,” Cullen said. “It has given huge support to all the producers involved, and I recommend it for any new producer starting out.”

Some of the other suppliers include: Larkins Farm, Muckross Creamery and Loch Measc. These new suppliers reflect a shift in thinking towards sustainable, local food production and comprise healthy, plant-based and gluten-free offerings, underpinned by values of provenance, transparency, and authenticity.

Food Academy producers have sold a combined €140 million of produce in SuperValu since 2014, supporting 1,500 jobs in the economy.  To date, 620 producers have come through the programme, with 272 producers currently enrolled in the programme.

Martin Kelleher, managing director of SuperValu emphasised how, as a supporter of local producers for the past 40 years, this is part of the brand’s DNA. “We started SuperValu Food Academy to support local food start-ups,” he said, “and the programme is more important than ever as we see consumers swing back to support our local food producers.”

The SuperValu Food Academy programme is now open for applications until Friday, 26 June 2020.  To apply, contact your Local Enterprise Office for an application form on






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