From left, Professor Mike Johnston, Professor David Carson, Dr Trefor Campbell, Paul Barbour, and Dr Geoff Simmons
Business students are focussing today in a masterclass with leading figures in the agri-food industry on how Northern Ireland can take a bigger slice of domestic and international markets.
Professor Mike Johnston (CEO Dairy Council for Northern Ireland); Paul Barbour (Commercial Manager for Kerry Foods branded business in Northern Ireland), and Dr Trefor Campbell CBE (ex-MD and non-executive Chair of Moy Park, Board Member of Belfast Harbour Commissioners and Patron and N.I. Council Member Princes Trust), will discuss the future of their sectors with students from the MSc Business Development and Agri-Food Business Development courses. Professor David Carson, Emeritus Professor at Ulster, was also present as a contributor.
The organiser of the seminar Dr Geoff Simmons, from Ulster Business School’s Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, said: “The students will benefit from learning from successful strategists in the agri-food sector. Their organizations’ business models have helped shape the industry across the island of Ireland and beyond. As well as this, the forum creates the opportunity to address some of the key business development questions and challenges that face us in the future of the business.”
The seminar, entitled ‘Business Development in the Agri-food Industry’, will focus on the factors that will help create a leading-edge and sustainable food industry in Northern Ireland.
Among the key issues it will address is how the agri-food sector can create a low carbon food system; the use of new technologies in the industry; and how the next generation of food industry managers can make the local market a world-beater.
Dr Trefor Campbell CBE, said: “The key challenge for the Northern Ireland agri-food sector is to prepare its young people to face the challenge of the new era, while planning and implementing new strategies to fundamentally change how we operate.
“Northern Ireland’s economy needs to prepare for an era of high fuel and food prices, which will make local food production essential to fill the gap left by the reduction of the 51% of our food that is imported into the UK.”
Professor Mike Johnston said: “As the most important sector of the Northern Ireland economy, agri-food has an important role over the next decade, at least, in contributing to economic recovery and growth. To do this the sector will need high quality people with the necessary knowledge and skills to grow and develop their businesses.”