Irish food and drinks start-ups are optimistic about their future growth, according to new research by SuperValu.

93% of those surveyed said they expect revenue growth this year.

Despite the various challenges posed for the sector by the Covid-19 pandemic, 71% of producers said they plan to expand their workforce in 2021.

The research comes as SuperValu announced 45 new Irish food producers who have completed the Food Academy programme, supported by Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs).

The products will be on sale in selected SuperValu stores from today.

The study shows that increased consumer demand for Irish products (41%) is the number one driver of growth.

On the other hand, economic uncertainty and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic are the most significant causes for concern for producers.

Commenting on the research, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said the combination of Brexit and Covid has tested Irish food producers, supermarkets and their supply chains.

"The industry has remained remarkably strong and resilient, throughout what has been a really challenging period, adapting and responding as things have changed.

"Ireland's food and drink producers are known around the world for the quality of their produce," he said.

The Tánaiste congratulated the 45 new producers that will be selling their products in SuperValu from today.

"The Food Academy programme is a fantastic example for those with smaller operations to sell to a wider audience.

"Nearly 300 have gone through the programme so far, supported by the Local Enterprise Offices, Bord Bia and SuperValu," he said.