10 ways Food First Consulting can help your business


Who is behind Food First Consulting?

The person behind ‘Food First Consulting’ is Malachy O’Connor. I believe strongly in quality food and high integrity relationships. Food retail is really exciting and a lot of fun too.

My technical background, love of products and customer satisfaction were a winning combination in my success as a Buying Director, Marketing Director (Aldi Ireland) and Fresh Category Commercial Director (Tesco Ireland). I really respect the expertise held by farmers, producers and processors and I have learned so much from them.

10 ways Food First Consulting can help your business

In this post, I will run through the top 10 ways that I can help your business. Food First Consulting can help retailers, buyers, sellers, marketers and agencies, using 20 years of insight gained through my career. For me, it is all about the customer and I love the products, the stories and the execution of great strategic plans. I have managed frozen foods and non-food categories, my key expert area being fresh foods.

1. Fresh Food

I am a fresh food expert. I understand the dynamics and challenges with short life, natural variation, seasonal availability and being closer to agriculture. I think that fresh food is the most exciting part of any food retail business and success is largely defined by how much you get it right. I was involved in the SPAR Food Strategy leading to the launch of their international flagship stores in Dublin. During my 8 years at Aldi Ireland, I developed the fresh meat category, turning beef from significant under trade to a 140% over-trade. I led the volume recovery of fresh foods at Tesco Ireland, taking a division in significant decline in 2014 to sustained growth before I left the business in November 2016. With my fresh knowledge, I can help your business sell more profitably.

2. Supply chain efficiency

There is no point in launching award winning products if they are not available on the shelf. People talk about ‘end to end’ but I have lived it and I know how to make it work for your business. I understand farming, raw materials, factory production, forecasting, cold chain, shelf ready packaging and merchandising. In short, I know how to get products through the supply chain and to maximize sales.

3. Range Optimisation

At Aldi Ireland, I quadrupled the range of fresh meat SKUs to step change quality perceptions. At Tesco I reduced the range, thus simplifying it for shoppers and store operations. I can help you get your range right for whatever challenges you face.

4. Brand Positioning

Great businesses know why they get up in the morning, what values define them and how to connect with customers to create sustained growth. As Marketing Director at Aldi I made this work and can do the same with you.

5. Marketing Strategy

At Aldi, with a solid brand position, great insight data, the right agency and a super in-house team, we executed game changing campaigns winning market share in Ireland and the UK, changing forever how the German discounters are perceived. Aldi’s Swap & Save was my brainchild, as were the ‘100% Irish Meat’,‘Love Ireland, Like Aldi’ campaigns. I also delivered the ‘Steak-Out’ and ‘Ploughing Championship’ PR events. I can work with your team to develop the right strategy to engage your customers and achieve your objectives.

6. New Product Development

NPD is a real pleasure for me. I have a highly sensitive tasting palate and an eye for design which combines beautifully in NPD. I launched Certified Angus Beef at Aldi and witnessed what that could do for overall store perceptions. I can read the trends and see the opportunities for volume and value growth. I can work with your team to help you work to your strengths or identify new growth areas.

7. Private label strategy

Not everybody gets private label but I do. I understand the products, suppliers, packaging and customers. My work has delivered significant market share gains and product quality awards at Great Taste, IQFA and Blas na hEireann. I grew Tesco Ireland’s fresh private label business by 25% over two years. I can help you identify your private label objectives and show you paths to delivering them.

8. Buying and Negotiations Strategy

I have navigated some of the most complex, multi-year deals in the market thanks to 20+ years of experience and the skills gained from GAP, Karass and Scotworks negotiations training. The market is moving in different directions. Some retailers are tendering rigorously with increasing frequency. Others are moving to multi-year, full category partnership deals. Either way, the stakes are too high to not be prepared and, with thinning margins, you want me on your side.

9. Business Strategy

I have a track record of developing successful business strategies based on solid insights & extensive knowledge of business turnaround. Do you need help to build a growth strategy for your business?

10. Retailer Insight

I have worked with some of the world’s biggest and most successful retailers. I have met so many buyers and suppliers who simply don’t get each other. Communication can be hit or miss, trust can be low and business can suffer. I can help bridge the gap for everyone’s benefit.

My Education & Experience

I have a 1st class honors degree in Food Science from Queens University Belfast. I have worked for M&S, Fyffes, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn, BWG Foods/SPAR, Aldi Ireland and most recently Tesco Ireland. I am now available to help your business. I bring 20 years of experience in technical, commercial and marketing roles in mainstream multiples, convenience and discount retailers. I have category experience across, fresh, frozen, non-food and on-line.

If you think I can help your business, please contact me to arrange a phone-call, skype call or to meet in person.


+353 87 9380216




. 24/9/2014.Fresh food commerical Dire

Simon Coveney and Malachy O’Connor (Image courtesy of Shelflife.ie)