Supporting food suppliers to shape how businesses meet customer needs and achieve growth

Institution: Queen’s Management School, Queen’s University Belfast

Business School Lead: Dr Geoff Simmons

 Lecture theatre at Coleraine. Psychology students pictured in lecture theatre at Ulster University. Lecturer is Dr Victoria Simms. (photo: Nigel McDowell/Ulster University)

The Centre for Irish Business and Economic Performance (CIBEP) is an interdisciplinary community working to assist Ireland, North & South, in building a stronger society through engaging in research-informed debate and offering advice aimed at realising improved business, economic and social conditions. The Centre offers workshops, seminars and public lectures covering key issues of interest and relevance to the external community.

This three-year Invest Northern Ireland funded project, has support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Tesco NI, the Ulster Farmers Union, Ulster University and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA).

The initiative is led by CIBEP researcher, Dr Geoff Simmons and Professor Andrew Fearne (University of East Anglia) and is focused on supporting Northern Ireland food suppliers make better use of market developments and consumer behaviour insights to shape how businesses meet customer needs and achieve growth.

CIBEP Director, Dr Anthony McDonnell notes: “This project represents a real case of research impact in that it provides a significant opportunity for farmers and food processors to work with leading scholars and business experts and learn from market intelligence and one another”.

Dr Geoff Simmons says: “The project can lead to the development of the core skills and capabilities necessary to build sustainable businesses that are driven by a fundamental understanding of who buys what and why. Being able to provide suppliers with information on consumer behaviour is invaluable. If a supplier can use consumer data to shape its offerings and marketing strategies, it has a significantly better chance of survival in a radically changing food retail and consumer environment.

“The food sector is crucial to Northern Ireland’s prosperity. It is our largest indigenous industry, our biggest manufacturer, our largest single employer and our most important exporter. We are delighted to support local food producers in making more informed business decisions through this project.”

Contact: Dr Geoff Simmons. Email: