Producers urged to back artisan awards

Invest NI director John Hood, right, at the GMED launch with NIFDA executive director Michael Bell, left, and News Letter editor Alistair Bushe
Invest NI director John Hood, right, at the GMED launch with NIFDA executive director Michael Bell, left, and News Letter editor Alistair Bushe

Artisan food and drink producers across the province have been urged to get behind a showcase event designed specifically for their sector.

Launched as part of the 2016 Year of Food and Drink celebration, the Grow, Make Eat, Drink (GMED) Awards have been established by News Letter, Derry Journal and Morton Newspapers owner Johnston Press to highlight the contribution of the craft and artisan sector to Northern Ireland’s considerable agri-food presence.

“Our Year of Food and Drink is an ideal opportunity to celebrate the ‘pure, natural, quality’ of Northern Ireland’s produce,” said John Hood,food and tourism director with Invest NI which is supporting the GMEDs.

“These awards give local companies of all sizes the opportunity to showcase their products and to promote their brands.

“Northern Ireland has for many years been the UK’s best kept secret for food and drink and we should seize the opportunity to change that perception at home and outside of Northern Ireland.

“Our recent Taste of Northern Ireland promotion at Fortnum & Mason flagship store in London, and the Balmoral Show Food NI Food Pavilion proves that we have products to be proud of.

“What better way to re-inforce that message than to enter this year’s Grow Make Eat Drink Award?”

Johnston Press 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.”

The closing date for entries is Monday, June 2, and the awards event will take place at the Ramada Plaza on August 11.