Highlighting the significant and growing contribution of the artisan food and drink producers in the province is aim of the Grow Make Eat Drink Awards launched in Belfast.
Run by News Letter owner Johnston Press in conjunction with Invest NI LMC Food NI, the bright new awards are set to focus on a sector being celebrated as a major component of the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink.
Announcing the awards which be presented at a prize-giving dinner at the Ramada Plaza, Belfast on August 11, Group Editor William Allen, said now was a perfect time to launch such an event.
“It’s quite a special year in many ways and we want to play a part in helping promote all that is good and wholesome and special about this part of the world,” he said.
“And at the forefront of our efforts to promote the best of what NI can offer is our support for the Year of Food and Drink.
“We believe 2016 is a chance to showcase the excellence of all aspects of the food and drink industry - and to demonstrate why it is so important to all of us.”
In response, Michael Bell, executive director of the industry body NIFDA, said it was important to acknowledge the scale of the food sector as a whole.
“I spend a lot of my time explaining to people that Northern Ireland’s largest company is not Bombardier, it’s Moy Park and its twice the size of Bombardier.
“Suffice it to say, the Year of Food and Drink is very important, agri-food is very important and it’s great to see your team joing in and supporting our industry.”