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Bord Bia partners with leading UAE retailer to spotlight sustainable Irish suppliers

Promotion of Irish products launched on day two of the Ministerial-led trade mission to the UAE and Saudi Arabia

Date: 15/02/2022

Bord Bia has partnered with the leading premium retailer in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Spinneys, for a sustainability themed promotion to highlight Irish brands and their participation in Origin Green, Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability programme.

The three-week promotion was formally launched yesterday, Monday February 14th, on day two of the Irish government’s trade mission to the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM), Charlie McConalogue T.D. This trade mission is the first ‘in person’ trade mission by Bord Bia and DAFM in two years and builds on a previous Ministerial-led trade mission to the region in 2017.

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L-R: Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D.; Spinneys CEO Sunil Kumar Sekharan; Bord Bia’s Global Business Development Director, Ailish Forde; Bord Bia’s Regional Director for the Middle East, Kieran Fitzgerald

Bord Bia recently completed a Future Proofing toolkit to further understand preferences and behaviours from consumers in UAE and Saudi Arabia emerging from the pandemic. Speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Ireland promotion, Ailish Forde, Global Business Development Director, Bord Bia, explained how the growing demand for sustainable sources of ingredients presents an opportunity for Irish exporters.

Bord Bia’s market insights show us that there is a growing interest in the UAE for healthy and organic foods to boost immunity along with safely packaged food – a direct response to food security concerns from consumers who are now more inclined to purchase from a well-known brand where the origin can be traced,” she said. “The growing demand here for sustainable sources of ingredients from Europe presents excellent opportunities for Ireland and to showcase Origin Green internationally.”

For individual Irish companies to succeed in the market, we know it is critical that awareness of Ireland as a source of quality, sustainable ingredients is amplified,” she added. “Spinneys is a valued customer of Irish food and drink with a reputation as a leader in adopting sustainable practices. This consumer-facing promotion, highlighting the sustainability of Irish produce, is a key measure in growing this awareness. Throughout this week, Irish food and drink exporters will have the opportunity to further build awareness of their sustainability credentials by leveraging the proof-points of Origin Green when engaging with decision makers and business leaders during their participation in prominent events including Gulfood and EXPO 2020.”

The Spinneys group has a 9-10% market share of supermarkets, being preferred choice of supermarket for Western consumers. In conjunction with its 51 Spinneys stores, Spinneys also operates the Waitrose licence in the UAE.

In recent years Spinneys has taken several steps towards becoming a more sustainable business, by focusing on reducing food waste, launching a solar power programme, working with local farmers, and sourcing sustainably produced imported produce.

Sophie Corcut, Brand and Sustainability Manager at Spinneys, said that the retailer's partnership with Ireland is ideally positioned to meet its customers’ desire for more sustainable shopping choices. 

Spinneys promotes healthier eating, less waste and sustainable production practices, all of which are aligned with what Ireland is doing in its approach to agri-food production, making Ireland a natural partner for us. Our customers are also placing more value on sustainably-produced and traceable produce, which Ireland is a leader at providing from farm to fork through Origin Green.”

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Spinneys stocks an extensive range of well-known Irish food and drink brands. The promotion will run across 10 Spinneys and five Waitrose stores in the UAE, until March 6th.

Kieran Fitzgerald, Bord Bia’s new Regional Director, Middle East commented:

We know that innovative and mutually beneficial partnerships are necessary to deliver on the region’s strong economic ambitions. Bord Bia has built strong relationships with key customers in the region and this partnership with Spinneys illustrates how Irish exporters are well positioned to deliver on the needs of retailers and foodservice suppliers in the region. Bord Bia is committed to fostering deeper relationships with Spinneys and other partners in the region. Last month, Ciaran Stafford joined Spinneys on an 18-month placement as part of the Bord Bia Talent Academy under the Supply Chain and Account Management programme. Previously, Origin Green Ambassador, Stephen Tummon, completed a six-month secondment with Spinneys, working across key sustainability projects.”

Spinneys and Origin Green’s shared ambition of improving environmental sustainability are demonstrated in their commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Spinney’s sustainability plan is aligned to six of the UN SDGs while at manufacturing level, Origin Green is aligned with 15 out of the 17 goals, to help deliver meaningful contributions to the advancement of the SDGs.