Food and drink business support and funding

Advisory support for food and drink businesses

Guide

Northern Ireland food and drink businesses can get advice from government departments, agencies and trade advisory organisations.

Invest Northern Ireland support for food & drink businesses

Invest NI offers a range of advisory support to businesses in the food and drink sector:

  • Food and drink advisers - Invest NI has a dedicated food and tourism team which delivers support to companies in the food and drink industry. Their buynifood.com website details thousands of products from over 300 local food processors. They can also assist with introductions, sampling and menu development.
  • Research markets, competitors and partners - the Business Information Centre at Invest NI provides free access to market research. This includes worldwide databases of potential customers and suppliers. The Centre can also supply you with market reports specifically focused on the food and drink industry.
  • Food and Drink Consumer Insights Team - delivers a range of initiatives to help Northern Ireland Food and Drink businesses to grow. They do this through using market research, data analysis and consumer insights. To contact the team, email consumerinsights@investni.com.

Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice and guidance

The FSA in Northern Ireland offers advice and guidance to food and drink businesses in Northern Ireland. This includes key issues such as food safety, standards, nutrition and dietary health. 

Local councils

Local councils are food law enforcement authorities. They offer advice and guidance on food safety and standards. Find your local council in Northern Ireland.

Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) business support

DAERA provides information and regulatory advice for food businesses on meat inspection, milk products, food imports and eggs packers. From time to time DAERA welcome applications for food-specific support schemes. See funding support for food and drink businesses.

Tourism NI support for food and drink businesses

There are increasing business tourism opportunities within the local food and drink industry. Find out about the support and guidance from Tourism Northern Ireland. You can also find out about the opportunities for growing your business through food tourism opportunities.

Food NI business support

Food NI helps to promote the products and services of its members. It supports them through their Food NI Producer and Taste of Ulster guides. Food NI also highlights local food events.

Northern Ireland Food & Drink Association (NIFDA) business support

NIFDA is a trade association which provides services to develop and support the food and drink industry in Northern Ireland. NIFDA provides information and advisory services, events and networking opportunities.  It also provides training and development, and guidance such as food & drink exporters guide (PDF, 3.1MB).

College of Agriculture, Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) business support

CAFRE offers advice and support for the food industry.  It has key expertise in food manufacture, innovation, safety, packaging and reducing waste. The college supports the agri-food sector through industry training, knowledge & technology transfer, benchmarking and business development planning. 

CAFRE also have food facilities that include:

  • Food Technology Centre
  • Food Packaging Centre
  • Food Innovation Centre
  • Food Business Incubation Centre

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) business support

AFBI offers scientific research and services to commercial organisations. It covers agriculture, animal health, food, environment, biosciences and economics. Find out more about AFBI's specialist advice to the food industry.

University research in Northern Ireland

Queen's University Belfast and the Ulster University both have research facilities:

  • Food safety at Queen's University helps local food and drink companies pursue research projects. This includes research in areas such as packaging, shelf-life, waste minimisation and food security to help develop innovative products and target export markets.
  • Ulster University's Northern Ireland Centre for Food & Health (NICHE) helps develop novel food products and functional foods. It researches the potential health benefits of foods and food supplements. It also analyses foods' nutritional content, stability and shelf-life.

Food and Drink Federation business support

The Food and Drink Federation offers a business information service to food and drink businesses with industry updates, alongside technical and regulatory support. They also provide events and training for the food and drink industry. Find out about the Food and Drink Federation's support service.

Banking support for food and drink businesses

Some local banks offer bespoke financial services for the food and drink industry, including:

Business finance and support finder

The business finance and support finder is a searchable database. It can help you find publicly-funded sources of assistance. Support may be available in a number of forms, including financial assistance and free or subsidised advice services. Search for available support on the business finance and support finder.