Economy Minister Diane Dodds today congratulated Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector following significant successes at this year’s Blas na hEireann, The Irish Food Awards.
Northern Ireland’s innovative food and drink producers won 59 awards at the virtual award ceremony last night (Saturday) which includes 16 gold award winners, and follows the Great Taste Awards in September where 82 producers won 172 awards.
Congratulating the companies on their successes during a turbulent year, the Minister said: “Our local agri-food industry is an extremely important industry. It contributed over £5billion to the local economy in 2019. Awards such as these celebrate the best of what the industry offers and highlights the sector’s resilience and tenacity to continue to do business during such challenging times.
“It’s great to see so many examples of Northern Ireland businesses winning in their categories and receiving such high acclaim.”
Amongst this year’s awards were golds and three stars for Northern Ireland across an impressive range of food and drink categories including bakery, dairy, meats, charcuterie, snacks, condiments and confectionery.
The Minister continued: “I would especially like to congratulate Crawford Rock Seaweed from Co Down for winning Best New Product, and En Place Foods in Tyrone for winning the best seafood innovation in the awards.
“I have no doubt that our success this year is down to the natural quality of our local produce and reinforces the hard work and commitment of our farmers and producers who are dedicated to traceability and passionate about quality.”
Now in its 13th year, Blas na hÉireann, The Irish Food Awards is the biggest competition for quality Irish produce in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The highly rated awards are Ireland’s biggest blind tasting of food and drink and are judged by a panel of expert judges – chefs, food writers and retailers. Invest Northern Ireland sponsored this year’s ‘Best New Product’ award.
John Hood, Invest NI’s Director of Food & Drink said: “The excellence of our food and drink has been captured with an exceptional performance at both of this year’s awards and I congratulate the hard work of our local food and drink producers on their outstanding achievements. Their successes are testament to the innovative, creative and delicious food and drink that Northern Ireland offers, and will provide successful companies a unique platform to catch the attention of top retailers.
“I am confident that our businesses have what it takes to succeed and to grow against the background of the pandemic. Invest NI will continue to support our companies as they work through the challenges in seeking to grow business both here and abroad.”