Applications open for food start-ups programme
Food Works 2015 offers business development advice and training for ambitious food and beverage entrepreneurs.

Applications are now open for ambitious food and beverage entrepreneurs to take part in Food Works 2015, a business development and training programme for food and drink start-ups.

The 2015 programme, run by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, was officially launched today at Wicklow Wolf Brewery in Bray, Co Wicklow. The brewery was one of the programmes 2014 participants and plans to create 16 new jobs in the coming years as it grows its business.

Food or drink entrepreneurs, or companies trading for less than four years, developing an innovative product and looking to expand their business are being sought to take part in the programme. The Food Works programme aims to help young companies to work towards becoming major international businesses in markets across the globe while creating new jobs at home. Successful companies will be introduced to suitable investors to help them to fund a scalable business during the programme.

Information meetings will be take place across the country for those interested in participating on 15 October in the Radisson Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath, 21 October in Tayto Park, Ashbourne, Co Meath and Cork Institute of Technology, Co Cork. All meetings start at 5.30pm.

Over the past two years, a total of 43 start-ups from dairy, snacks, meat, seafood and beverages have participated in the Food Works programme.

Quincey Fennelly, co-founder of Wicklow Wolf said: “Once we made the decision to produce beer on a commercial level, we decided to look for help from wherever we could get it. The Food Works programme was recommended to us and we were delighted to be accepted to take part. It was very challenging and brought us on many occasions outside our comfort zone, but, it really helped us to become more disciplined about planning our business for the future for both the domestic and the export market. I would recommend it to anyone who has a good business idea who has the ambition to develop it into a strong food business capable of exporting around the world.”

Rachel Nolan, co-founder of Nobó and a participant in Food Works 2013 says her business has come a long way since participating in the programme. “After first launching into stores eight months ago, our first product ‘Frozen Goodness’ is now available in over 100 stores around the country. This will be increasing significantly over the next number of weeks as the product is rolled out to SuperValu stores nationwide. We were delighted to recently receive two Great Taste Awards in the UK and to be included in the Great Taste ‘Top 50 Foods’ in the UK and Ireland out of 10,000 products entered and tasted."

To register to attend the seminars, or for more information on Food Works 2015, visit www.foodworksireland.ie.

Herdwatch acquires 'Tinder for bulls'
The herd management app has taken over Bullmatch, a company matching cows with the most suitable bulls through computer power.

Herdwatch has announced the acquisition of Bullmatch, a bull selection software tool created by Co Clare pedigree Limousin breeders Brian and Teresa Kelly.

The Bullmatch technology allows farmers to select one or more characteristics they look for in a calf, eg a star or EBI rating. A computer algorithm instantly suggests a list of bulls to achieve this result with the selected cows.

Farmers using Herdwatch will have access to the bull matching service at no extra cost

The company describes the service as "Tinder for bulls", claiming it can save farmers hours researching and matching each individual cow to the best bull, and ensure the best chance of achieving the full genetic potential of their breeding herd.

Herdwatch and Bullmatch teams will now work together to integrate this technology into Herdwatch's existing herd management app in the coming months.

They will also expand Bullmatch's current beef capability to dairy herds and roll it out in the UK.

Farmers using Herdwatch will then have access to the bull matching service at no extra cost, a company spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

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Agri-shares: FBD shares show modest rise after €50m profit
Shares in FBD only showed modest gains this week, despite the insurer posting a €50m profit.

Shares in FBD Holdings rose a modest 2% to close to €9 after the insurer posted an overall profit of €50m for 2018.

FBD saw profits from writing insurance soar more than 40% last year to hit €63m. The strong results come despite gross written premiums falling marginally (€1m) to €371.5m last year.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, FBD CEO Fiona Muldoon said she was satisfied with volumes in its farm book following an initial shock with the entrance of AXA into the market in the summer.

She said the company has worked very hard to compete and hold on to its customers but acknowledged that the farm book had “lost marginal market share”. FBD claims to have 75% of the Irish farm insurance market.

Of the other listed agribusiness PLCs, shares in Aryzta (-3%), Greencore (-2%) and Kerry Group (-1%) all retreated slightly in the last week.

Shares in plastics group IPL Plastics, formerly known as One51, were down a little over 1% this week to C$10.65.

Shares in Donegal Investment Group gained 1% this week and are trading close to €9, while Origin Enterprise shares are up 2% in the week to €5.42.

On oil markets, the price of Brent crude oil is trading at $66.31/barrel this week.

FBD profits up 41% to €63m
The insurer says its profit hike was not due to higher farmer premiums.

FBD chief executive Fiona Muldoon has said the company’s higher profits are not coming from charging higher premiums to farmers. The company’s insurance profits jumped by 41% last year to €63m.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Muldoon said FBD Insurance had lost business in its farm book due to increased competition in the marketplace.

AXA entered the farm insurance market last year for the first time to challenge Ireland’s largest farm insurer.

FBD claims to have 75% of the Irish farm insurance market.

Muldoon said that its higher profits in 2018 were a result of better risk selection rather than charging higher premiums to farmers.