NORTHERN Ireland’s prize-winning food producers are heading for Dublin next week after a return to London over the past few days in a bid to capitalise on their Great Taste Award success.
Food from almost 50 local companies which gained gold stars at this year’s event, including Hannan Meats of Moira, which went on to bring the coveted Supreme Champion title to the Province for the second year in a row, was highlighted on Thursday and Friday at Invest NI’s Northern Ireland Naturally presentation at Lunch! in London.
After that it’s off to Dublin’s Shop 2012 exhibition running from Tuesday to Thursday.
Held in the Business Design Centre, Islington, Lunch! is the UK’s most important event for the out-of-home food and drink industry, while Shop is Ireland’s leading event for both retailers and foodservice organisations.
Both attract key buyers from Great Britain, the Irish Republic, mainland Europe and further afield and are seen as ‘must attend’ events for innovative products and new food concepts.
“The achievements of our companies in the Great Taste Awards over the past six years and particularly in the past two years have been amazing,” said Invest NI’s trade director Dr Vicky Kell
“We have seen the Supreme Champion title secured by Northern Ireland companies two years in a row – McCartney’s Butchers and Hannan Meats, both based in Moira – for innovative products.
“Invest NI is helping companies, particularly small and medium sized enterprises, to maximise the business opportunities being generated by the higher profile the companies received as a result of their outstanding achievements in what has become one of the most prestigious food events in Europe.
“Companies which have gained gold stars in the past caught the attention of key buyers in major grocery retailers including Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Harrods, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda.
“Several have won business with supermarkets in the US and Asia. Our objective is to encourage and support the companies in growing sales outside Northern Ireland through a structured programme of presentations at trade exhibitions and missions to markets worldwide.
“We are also planning a major event in November to celebrate Northern Ireland’s award-winning food and drink companies.”
At Lunch!, visitors to Invest NI’s presentation will be able to enjoy a menu of delicious ‘lite bites’ created by top chef James Davidson, executive chef at Rich Sauces in Newtownards, a leading producer of sauces, mayonnaise and bouillon for caterers and other foodservice businesses.
Mr Davidson said: “I’ve developed an original menu to show trade visitors the versatility of quality food now readily available in Britain from Northern Ireland suppliers.
It gives them an opportunity to experience the excellent food that on offer from our suppliers, many of which have won gold stars in the UK Great Taste Awards.”
Lunch! is targeted at the fast growing food-to-go sector and is expected to attract thousands of visitors from cafes, coffee shops, sandwich bars, specialist and contract caterers, supermarkets, department stores, wholesalers and distributors.
Most of the award-winning products will also be available for visitors to Shop 2012 at the RDS in Dublin to sample.
Northern Ireland companies will also be bidding for further success in the Product of the Year and Irish Cheese awards held during the event.