NI food-to-go trade body elects leader to tackle major issues

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Founder and chief executive of Northern Ireland Food To Go Association, Michael Henderson; and newly announced chairperson and sales director at Henderson Foodservice, Kiera Campbell
Founder and chief executive of Northern Ireland Food To Go Association, Michael Henderson; and newly announced chairperson and sales director at Henderson Foodservice, Kiera Campbell

Related tags appointments Trade

The trade association representing the Northern Irish food to go industry has appointed a new chairperson to help form and lead its board in an effort to navigate the on-going challenges faced by the region.

Kiera Campbell, sales director at Henderson Foodservice which supplies the hospitality industry across Ireland, has been named chair of the Northern Ireland (NI) Food to Go Association.

In this role she will help form and lead the board which will be made up of several key industry experts, including Michael Henderson who founded the body five years ago.

Campbell has more than 20 years’ experience within food and drink, having served as the director at Henderson Foodservice for a decade.

This news follows a recent rebranding of the NI Food to Go Association, formerly known as NI Takeaway Association, as part of a move to be ‘more representative’ of the ever-changing sector.

Gathering insight from its members in a survey on what the board’s key priorities should be going forward, the association found that the majority (70%) are still concerned over a lack of skilled workers. Other issues of note raised in the survey included business rates, insurance, utility bills and sustainability.

While skills and labour shortages are a widespread UK issue, Northern Ireland is said to have the fewest people with third-level qualifications and more with no qualifications than the UK as a whole.

Commenting on her new role, Campbell highlighted the lack of representative for the to-go category thus far, stating that she is ‘looking forward’ to addressing the concerns of the association’s members.

“Northern Ireland has one of the most thriving food to go industries in the UK, they are an innovative group who are growing the sector after spotting some fantastic opportunities through a very challenging few years,” ​she said. “The sector has many of the same issues that the wider hospitality industry is facing, but without a valid trade body to support them through the complicated areas of the issues.”

“I’m proud to lead the NI Food to Go Association’s Board through its first year in situ, working with members to provide expert advice, with wider groups lobbying on their behalf. This is a much needed Association for our food to go businesses here and I look forward to meeting even more members in the coming weeks and months.”

The association’s chief executive Henderson added: “For the past five years, we have been lobbying on behalf of a sector that has seen resilience in the face of huge challenges, while it continues to provide vital career prospects for the future food to go entrepreneurs of Northern Ireland, but there is still more to be done.

“I am delighted to welcome Kiera Campbell to Chair our Board, which will be carefully selected to provide expert support for members of our Association, from HR queries to financial advice, rates relief, and filling job vacancies – all the most important priorities for our members.”

The NI Food to Go Association will be working with local Members of the Legislative Assembly to create all-party advisory panel at Stormont, following its collapse a few years ago and its recent reinstatement.

The association is looking to help resolve industry issues within the Executive and Assembly at Stormont; with economic inactivity rates – which have been the highest in the UK for the last 30 years – and labour shortages among them.

In other news, Belfast has just become the third European capital and the first city in Ireland to endorse the Plant Based Treaty.

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