Starting a Food & Drink Business: Key Steps

So, you want to start a food and drink business? Everything you need to know from health and safety to marketing

May 27, 2024 | Blog | Hospitality, Marketing, Start

Northern Ireland is famous for its food and drink, producing and exporting the finest quality produce from meat and dairy products to fruit like the Co Armagh Bramley Apple, and some of the world’s best known whiskey brands.

And it’s big business too. The sector is worth around £6.5 billion to the local economy annually according to the most recent official figures and the value is rising year-on-year while food and drink processors make up almost one-third of our manufacturing industry.

Starting your own food and drink company can therefore be an attractive prospect – but what do you need to know before you begin? Here is our quick guide.

Registering – Anyone starting a food or drink business in Northern Ireland needs to register with the government first. That includes all businesses that directly serve customers whether a restaurant or a pop-up food stall, while it also applies to companies that store, prepare or distribute food. Registration means the authorities can ensure all companies are fully compliant with food and drink regulations.

Health and Safety – Important in any industry, but it is especially imperative for food and drink firms to operate within the highest standards of health and safety. For example, you need to get to know food and hygiene laws before establishing your business, be ready for a food safety inspection and understand the food hygiene rating system and what you need to do to comply.

Marketing – Certain standards are expected when it comes to marketing your product, and you need to keep within them to stay on the right side of the law. From clearly identifying the country of origin of your ingredients to ensuring all labelling complies with the laws within the jurisdictions where you hope to sell. Getting it right can make the difference between selling your product or having it taken from the shelves.

There are a multitude of hoops to jump through before starting your food and drink business – but the rewards can be plenty.

At Go Succeed, we are here to help you start on your journey and can link you with local experts within your council area that can help you on the way.

Our programmes, delivered totally free of charge, support you with events and masterclasses, online business plan resources, access to grant funding, one to one advice and support and peer networks.

Find out more by completing our webform or by calling us on 0800 027 0639.