Food Innovation

Food innovation can be complex, and yet it is the lifeblood to any food business. We have created an information hub to assist you, and guide you through all of the key stages of your new product development. New product development is the process of bringing an original product idea to market.

Food Kitchen
Food Innovation

It can essentially be broken down into the following areas:

  1. Idea Generation and Screening
  2. Market Research
  3. Product Specifications
  4. Feasibility Study
  5. Product Development and Testing
  6. Launch

It will be vital to do a lot of research in the category of your potential product. It would be an error to rush to launch your product without doing enough research. Determining the feasibility of your product idea will also be vital e.g. how much will you have to invest, and will you sell enough to bring in the required revenue?


1. Category Research

All product development needs to be guided by research.

  • Bord Bia Support: ‘The Thinking House’ The Thinking House in Bord Bia is available to all food clients of the Local Enterprise Office (‘LEO’).  The Thinking House is a world-class Library and information service which can help you to save time and money and reduce risk and uncertainty. Collectively the “Food Specialist Librarians” in Bord Bia have built up over twenty years of experience between them and there’s probably no question they haven’t been asked before. Simply email , state you are a LEO client and request information on the category/product you are researching 


  • Store Managers/Chef Feedback: Visiting shops and restaurants and talking with store managers and chefs is another key step. Try and chose times of the day and week when they are not busy. Share your idea with these trade buyers and seek their feedback. Crucially seek info on the following:
    • Feedback on what they think of your product/idea
    • Determining from the buyer if the category is crowded already with similar products
    • Seeking their view if gap exists
    • Asking how many packets/units they would envisage you will sell per week based on their knowledge   


  • Gap Analysis: You also need to gather as much info as possible on other similar products in the category you propose to sell your product in. While there might be no other product the same as yours, there will always be something similar you can benchmark against. Gather all the following info and put it onto spreadsheet to allow you to conduct the analysis. The objective of the exercise is to allow you to clearly identify the gap for your proposed product and gather info which will assist you with determining what the consumer will be willing to pay for your product. You need to gather the following information on your spreadsheet:
    • The brand name of the product
    • The weight of the pack
    • The price of the pack
    • Convert all prices to per litre or per kilo for comparison    



2. Consumer Insight

Without solving a consumer need, your product might just be seen by the consumer as just another “copycat” product, resulting in low sales. Therefore, you need to have a really strong understanding of consumer trends in order to identify a consumer need you are trying to solve with your product.

The good news is that all the key consumer trends can be found on the Bord Bia Consumer Lifestyle Trends site, are available for open viewing. This is an invaluable resource:


3. Teagasc

Teagasc is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and is Ireland’s leading agency for agri-food innovation. Its food programme spans the entire chain from farm production to food processing and innovation. In addition, it provides the food industry with access to specialised laboratory equipment and unique pilot-plant scale food processing facilities.  Here is a link to Teagasc

Teagasc's aim is to provide comprehensive technical support to SME's looking to develop food products in Ireland. In particular, you should familiarise yourself with Moorepark Technology Ltd. which provides commercial pilot plant and research services for dairy food industry customers, and also the Ashtown Research, Education and Conference Centre which was created to address the innovation needs of the consumer food and horticulture sectors.

If you are trading as a Limited Company you could be eligible to an Innovation Voucher which could be used to get you access to Teagasc experts and facilities as well as other state food innovation facilities/experts such as UCC (University College Cork) or  St. Angela's College, NUI Galway etc.

4. Innovation Stage Gate Process

The product development journey can appear confusing. As mentioned above, it essentially follows the same journey no matter what type of product you are trying to create. It can be broken down into:

  1.     Idea Generation and Screening
  2.     Market Research
  3.     Product Specifications
  4.     Feasibility Study
  5.     Product Development and Testing
  6.     Launch
Innovation Stage Gate Process
Innovation Stage Gate Process



5. Innovation Vouchers

The Innovation Initiative was developed by Enterprise Ireland to build links between Ireland's higher education providers and small businesses. These Innovation Vouchers are worth €5,000 and are available to assist a company to explore a business opportunity with a registered knowledge provider (higher education institute or public research body). More information on these can be found here.


6. Research Laboratories

You may need to use a research laboratory to test for things like shelf life testing, microbiological analysis or nutrition analysis. Here is a helpful list of some of these laboratories in Ireland. You may qualify for a grant towards the cost of testing from your Local Enterprise Office. Enterprise Ireland Innovation vouchers entitle you to free testing, as well as technical supports, if you qualify for a voucher. Always compare and contrast the service offered and prices before making a selection


7. Packaging

We encourage you to shop around for packaging and be aware of potential cash-flow and food grade storage issues if you buy in bulk. Below is a sample list of packaging companies in Ireland and Britain. We recommend that you also research other options:

Irish Packaging Companies

We would always encourage you to buy packaging from Irish agents and distributors, however, we have lots of requests for packaging companies in other regions and here are a few we find interesting:


8.  Digital School of Food

The Digital School of Food is a free e-learning platform for early stage food producers. It contains over 20 hours of video tutorials, downloadable material etc. There are also some great interviews with real producers and trade buyers Simply watch the video on the landing page and hit the “launch” button. It’s all free….   

Food Strategy
Limerick City and County Council

Food Strategy for Limerick 2016-2018

The Food Strategy for Limerick 2016–2018 is a plan to develop and enhance Limerick’s reputation for outstanding food and drink by supporting Limerick’s food and drink producers.

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