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A new undergraduate degree in Food Business and Retail Management launching at Ulster University Business School in September 2022 is set to address the growing skills shortage across all levels of the local food and drink sector - from food producer to food retailer.

Food and drink is a £5 billion industry in Northern Ireland and is the region’s largest manufacturer. It is deemed a priority sector by government and a major future economic driver requiring support to build a stronger economy. The Department for the Economy’s ‘Rebuilding a Stronger Economy’ paper notes the importance of safeguarding the agri-food sector against challenges such as Brexit, and supporting opportunities for economic growth and innovation.

Professor Geoff Simmons, Course Director, says the new Food Business and Retail Management BSc has been designed to equip students with the commercial awareness and skills demanded by the food industry at managerial level.

“The most recent strategic plan for the food industry ‘Going for Growth – Investing in Success’ emphasised a programme of measures to ensure higher levels of market-led innovation, sales growth outside Northern Ireland, especially to new markets in the USA, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and a significant improvement in skills. Crucially, skills development was positioned as a key requirement across the wider food and drink supply chain.

Given the challenges surrounding the availability of managerial and commercial skills, we have developed a brand new course to help future leaders respond to significant opportunities and challenges faced by the industry. The programme will equip both young people entering the industry, and those working within the sector, with the core business management skills needed for commercial success”

Teaching will be delivered on Ulster University’s Coleraine campus, with students having the flexibility of studying either full-time or part-time over three-four years.

“The full-time option is aimed at school leavers who will be prepared for a range of managerial opportunities with food producers and retailers. For those in employment who wish to continue their professional development in management and leadership roles, the course can be taken on a part-time basis.”

Students will develop transferable business-focused skills across core commercial areas, such as food marketing, consumer behaviour, food retail management, category management, food supply chain management and international business.

The food producer and retail focus will allow graduates to pursue careers in functional management positions with food producers and across a range of retail management opportunities – from supply chain and category management to marketing and international business.

Over the last number of years, Ulster University Business School has demonstrated its long-term commitment to the development of Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector through multi-million pound investments in state-of-the-art facilities.

The Food and Drink Business Development Centre, a centre of excellence, was established to provide sector specific support to Northern Ireland’s local food and drink industry in research and business education. Located on the university’s Belfast campus, the Centre provides a unique range of support tools and expertise in key areas such a marketing and consumer behaviour, innovation management, supply chain management and food policy and sustainability to help businesses innovate and develop new product concepts.

The Centre also contains a Consumer Insight Lab, a virtual reality retail store that allows firms to trial new products, packaging and category management, with shoppers recruited from relevant market segments.

Moreover, The Food and Consumer Testing Suite (FACTS) at Ulster University’s Coleraine campus, helps businesses create, develop, refine and improve food and drink products through development kitchens, sensory testing booths, consumer research facilities, and a nutritional analysis laboratory. Through this suite, Ulster has partnered with leading experts from McDonalds, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and many local SME food firms to support product innovation and new product development in the region.

To find out more about the BSc Food Business and Retail Management course visit: