Smart TV can be meal ticket for Irish food firms

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

Smart television is about to “explode” in popularity and Irish food businesses should make sure they are ready to capitalise on it, the Good Food Ireland conference was told yesterday.

Smart televisions can be hooked up to the internet, allowing the user to browse websites and use apps via the television.

Dr Sharib Khan, a technology entrepreneur who co-founded the iFood.tvwebsite, said 10 million US households had smart televisions but this would have increased to 100 million by 2016.

If food businesses had a strong presence on the web, people with smart televisions would be able to browse on their websites as they watched food and travel programmes.

His iFood.tvwebsite offers more than 300,000 recipes, 50,000 cooking videos and 20,000 blogs.

He said Google was “the gateway” for people trying to develop their web presence. “If you are looking for an Irish soda bread recipe, you go to Google,” he said.

People did not need to spend marketing budgets on focus groups to find out what people wanted. “Just go to Google.”

He encouraged people to use Google tools to see what people were looking for online. There were, on average, 74,000 global searches for the words “food Ireland” a month but Dr Khan said there was not a whole lot of content available. There was an “ amazing opportunity” for Irish food businesses to provide this information. “Make it available as soon as possible,” he said.

Dr Khan was a keynote speaker at the Good Food Ireland conference for food businesses. Margaret Jeffares started Good Food Ireland in 2006 with a mission to grow Ireland as a food tourism destination.

Almost 600 businesses are now under the Good Food Ireland brand, she said yesterday. This includes food producers, restaurants, pubs, shops, accommodation and cookery schools.

‘Huge opportunities’

Facebook small business marketing manager Felicity McCarthy told the conference there were huge opportunities for food companies online.

More than two million Irish people were active Facebook users and 1.5 million accessed it every day. She compared this with the 1.5 million who watched Ireland’s most popular programme last year – The Late Late Toy Show – and said the cost of advertising during that programme would be well beyond the reach of small businesses.

She said the artisan Cupcake Bakery in Galway regularly sold out on certain flavours within one hour of posting a photo of the cupcakes on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland’s head of e-marketing, Brian Harte, encouraged food businesses to get behind the Gathering, the Government initiative that is encouraging people to visit Ireland next year.

“Food can be at the heart of the Gathering and I’d suggest that you follow it through.”