Kilkenny Food Strategy


Food Strategy 2020 Report

More information about Kilkenny's Food Strategy 2020, is available in the full report which is now available for download


Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP)’s Local Development Strategies has a record of over two decades of investing in the rural, food and drink small business sector. This sector has proven to be a key pillar of rural development and has added value to the outputs of the strong and diverse local primary production section.

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP) and Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny and Kilkenny’s Food Steering Committee are partners in a development process leading a group of wider stakeholders with an interest in the production, processing, promotion and consumption of locally-sourced food.  This food strategy builds on the previous work carried out in County Kilkenny following the publication of “Growing a Local Food Economy” the County Kilkenny Food Strategy 2010 – 2014”  which resulted in the development of the County developing its food landscape and growing its food reputation significantly, since its publication.  In 2018, Kilkenny was recognised at national level by being named ‘Foodie Destination of the Year for 2018’.

As part of the Kilkenny Food Vision 2020 – 2025 program several key deliverable items were identified which include three-level objectives:

  1. To support 2 food processing start ups per annum to successfully commence trading and to support growth within 2 existing micro food enterprises
  2. To increase the amount of local food on local menus and retail shelves and grow purchase value by food service operators by 25%
  3. To create more market (indoor and outdoor) pop up retailing and direct selling access to consumers for food producers

Three key enablers were identified:

  1. The development of a Kilkenny food verification system
  2. The creation of a food development office
  3. The development of a Kilkenny food and beverage brand.

A number of objectives have already been met with the assistance of a coordinator joining the team in Qty 4 2020. Research into the development of a development brand is almost complete and the tendering process is underway for the verification system.

These objectives combined will encourage and help local food companies in the Kilkenny region and possibly neighbouring regions to trade together more effectively. More specifically It will provide a “Go To” site for visitors to the Kilkenny region and possibly other regions in terms of “all things food”. Therefore, improving the trust and transparency of genuine local food products in the Kilkenny and neighbouring regions. Its uniqueness lies not only in the operating system but also in its cohesion and a common willingness to work together joining the statutory agencies with commercial interests in the county and region for the common good.

Report Launch

The 70 plus contributors to the new Kilkenny Food Strategy will be the key people to ensure the vision becomes a reality, renowned strategist, James Burke said.

He said his team and the staff at Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership guided the way but that it’s now up to the local industry to make it happen.

His comments came as celebrity chef, Cookery School entrepreneur and Course Leader in Culinary Arts in WIT, Edward Hayden launched the Kilkenny Food Vision 2020- 2025: “Add 3 Ingredients”.

The Strategy focuses on three high-level objectives which the stakeholders believe will have long-term and broad-based strategic impact for food culture in the County and adjacent region to which it is closely linked.

“This will only work if it is locally owned. If people get involved, get behind it. A food development office will be required to drive this – the magic in this is that you would have a driver to achieve the outlined goals,” Mr Burke said.

Gathered for the launch were celebrity chef, Edward Hayden along with Business Advisor with Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny, Catherine Hennessy, Kilkenny LEADER Partnership CEO, Declan Rice, Canadian-based food expert, President & CEO of Culinary Tourism Alliance, Rebecca MacKenzie and James Burke, James Burke & Associates.
Picture Dylan Vaughan

Officially launching the Vision, Edward Hayden said: “There’s a great level of culinary integrity in Kilkenny. Kathleen Moran led the way and I was very fortunate to have started out in this industry working for her. She served local food on local crockery and was one of the key drivers of our unique food culture in Kilkenny.

“Kilkenny today is a fabulous food destination. We have amazing food producers, culinary tours, restaurants, hotels etc – all offering a very high standard experience. It’s a challenging industry and it’s a challenging time. I’ve yet to meet a wealthy food producer. Everything they make is pumped back into their business. We need to get a cohort of a few good people together who can put their hands up, shoulders back and chests out to support one another and make this Vision a reality,” he said.

The Kilkenny Food Strategy vision is that it will become Ireland’s strongest local food economy and food culture hub and increase the amount of local food and beverages on menus and retail shelves in the county, growing local food consumption by 30% over the next three to five years.

The Food Vision development process involved over 70 local stakeholder inputs, initially led and supported by a partnership of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Kilkenny and Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP).  It maps the pathway for growth of the local sector in Kilkenny city and county and the surrounding hinterland over the next three to five years.


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