Supermarket giant Aldi has announced it is seeking applications from Donegal’s small to medium Irish food and drink producers to enter their products to win a place on its new ‘Grow with Aldi’ supplier development programme.

Aldi is investing €500,000 in the new programme to give up-and-coming Irish food and drink companies the chance to supply all 130 Aldi stores during a special Irish Food Market promotion in August 2018, and potentially secure a permanent place on its shelves with a long-term contract.

Aldi will select up to 50 of Ireland’s and Donegal’s best new artisan products to take part in the promotion, with each supplier providing a guaranteed volume of their product.

Up to five of the products will be given the opportunity to become core line Aldi listed products, winning a contract to be sold in Aldi’s Irish stores year-round.

Developed in partnership with Bord Bia, ‘Grow with Aldi’ has been designed to help small to medium Irish food and drink businesses secure a retail listing.

Participants will receive tailored mentoring and bespoke workshops with Aldi buyers and Bord Bia technical experts, teaching them the skills to help grow and develop their product and business.

 Aldi has developed strong ties with Donegal producers, partnering with companies such as Ardara based Gallagher’s Bakery.

Speaking at the launch, Giles Hurley, Group Managing Director Aldi Ireland, said: “We know there are fantastic products from emerging businesses in County Donegal and we want to make it easier for them to get our shelves.

“We have always led the way with Irish sourcing and supporting Irish food and drink companies, having developed long-term partnerships with over 175 Irish suppliers throughout the country. Last year we increased our support for small Irish suppliers by significantly reducing their payment terms.

“In October we were joined by over 400 of Ireland’s leading food and drink companies at our Irish supplier conference, where we outlined our plans to invest further in our Irish sourced product range and the fantastic opportunities available to small and medium producers to partner with Aldi and supply our stores in Ireland and abroad.

“Our Grow with Aldi supplier development programme is the next step in our commitment to buying Irish. For a lot of small food and drink businesses, trying to secure a listing with a major retailer puts huge pressure on their team.”

Recent research by Core Research found that provenance is of huge importance to Irish consumers when purchasing groceries.

When questioned on what are the most important factors when making grocery purchasing decisions, one in two (47%) answered that the products are made in Ireland, while 78% of Irish shoppers said they always choose an Irish made product over a similar imported option.

The survey also revealed that two out of three (66%) consumers now associate Aldi with selling, locally produced Irish food.

Aldi spent over €700m with its 175 Irish suppliers in 2016, while over 50% of Aldi’s grocery range is sourced from Irish producers, suppliers and manufacturers.

Commenting on the programme, Tara McCarthy, Bord Bia CEO said: "We know from our extensive research the importance Irish people place on the availability of locally sourced products. Grow with Aldi will help meet consumers appetite for Irish products and I encourage our smaller Irish producers to get involved. It is a comprehensive programme that provides the platform for companies to develop and expand their businesses exponentially.”

Food and drink companies in Ireland with ambitions to take their product from concept to shelf and see it stocked in Aldi’s 130 Irish stores can apply for the Grow with Aldi supplier development programme by contacting [email protected]. Further details are available at www.aldi.ie/grow.

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