Energy experts help food firms tackle rising costs and ‘green’ challenges

Food and drink companies across Northern Ireland are being offered expert and experienced guidance on tackling spiralling costs especially in electricity and gas and in preparing for any requirements from the just launched Path to Net Zero Green Energy strategy.

Food and drink companies across Northern Ireland are being offered expert and experienced guidance on tackling spiralling costs especially in electricity and gas and in preparing for any requirements from the just launched Path to Net Zero Green Energy strategy.

Spearheading the specialised assistance is Karl Devlin, an experienced food industry manager and an expert in international marketing for local food and drink with an impressive track in guiding companies here, both large and small, to new deals in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Karl worked with Invest NI for 16 years and held a senior management position within the organisation’s Food and Drink Division. He advised and mentored managers in small and medium sized companies and larger corporations, helping them to develop their export strategies and to grow sales successfully and profitably to many different countries. As a result, Karl has vast experience, knowledge of and many contacts in the £5 billion industry, our biggest single manufacturer.

Karl Devlin helping food and drink companies tackle energy costs effectively

He’s now bringing his expertise to companies of all sizes here on measures to help counter sharp rises in energy costs which have doubled for many over the past few months in his role as a key figure in Gaeltel, a proactive Scottish consultancy specialising in identifying initiatives on power sources. The company is now setting up an Irish operation here.

“I was delighted when Gaeltel approached me to extend its expert services to companies here and in the RoI. While my focus will be initially on food and drink, the industry I know best, we will also seek to assist other sectors in both countries,” Karl explains. “Food and drink, of course, is vitally important in both economies and it’s essential that companies of all sizes survive the current crisis in their own energy costs and rising costs from suppliers. The industry contributes around £5 billion and provides employment for 100,000 across the local economy, while it generates around £30 billion and employs upwards of 165,000 people in the Republic.”

Karl continues that the extension of Gaeltel to companies in both countries would also help them to prepare for growing pressure to meet the challenges from growing sustainability requirements from COP26 obligations to address climate change much more effectively.

The Republic is developing its successful and internationally recognised Origin Green scheme, while NI is also now moving towards such a Green Growth strategy with a sharp focus on sustainable energy sources.

Driven by Bord Bia, the Republic’s enterprising food and drink marketing body, Origin Green is the world’s only national food and drink sustainability programme, enabling the industry to set and achieve measurable targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively.

Gaeltel has expanded to NI and the Republic from its base at Fochabers, near the cathedral city of Elgin. It has a successful track record in energy guidance in Scotland and other markets.

The expert consultancy was established in 2016 by Dutch smart energy specialist Eddie Pellegrom and wife Susan, the chief operating officer. Chief executive Eddie has a wealth of international experience in management in carbon neutral systems. Susan has had a wide and varied experience of management in the NHS. Her experience includes managing local, regional and national service development and capital.

Eddie explains: “Our approach is to get to understand fully the business of a client company. This involves a complete, independent and free energy audit which enables us to determine the most efficient actions to cut consumption, carbon and other costs. Our expertise includes the provision of any necessary state-of-the art equipment which can be sourced from across the world.

​“Our role is to find the best, most effective and cost efficient fit for a client, creating a tailored roadmap towards carbon neutrality and the reduction in business costs from day one. We draw on successful global solutions that will usually generate savings to cover costs of the overall solution within an agreed period. Our ethically clean approach benefits the individual business and the overall environment.”

The company was drawn to invest in NI last year due to the opportunities arising from the region’s limited energy supply sources and the developing energy crisis.

The Gaeltel team, Eddie adds, has comprehensive knowledge and experience across the widest range of global energy sources including both hardware and software for proven air source heating, anaerobic digestion, battery storage, biomass, combined heat and power, hydrogen, solar, voltage optimisation and wind turbines.

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