Ulster’s agri-food business ‘going from strength to strength’

Minister Simon Hamilton pictured at the Tesco Taste Festival with Brendan Guidera, left, store director Tesco NI, and commercial manager Sean Largey
Minister Simon Hamilton pictured at the Tesco Taste Festival with Brendan Guidera, left, store director Tesco NI, and commercial manager Sean Largey
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Northern Ireland’s reputation as a food-producing region continues to go from strength to strength Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has claimed.

Speaking and Junior Minister Alastair Ross at the official opening of the 8th Tesco Taste Northern Ireland Festival, said the event was a tremendous shop window for the sector.

Officially opening the festival before an audience which included local producers and food industry buyers from across the United Kingdom, he said: “Events such as this provide a great opportunity for suppliers and producers to get together, sample new products, forge loyalty and fuel innovation.

At the same time, they serve to showcase the outstanding quality and diverse nature of our food and drink produce and take on an added significance in what is Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink.

The sector is Northern Ireland’s single biggest industry and the fact that we’re now exporting to over 70 countries is testament to the increased global awareness that our produce now enjoys.

“Northern Ireland boasts the highest quality raw ingredients, state of the art processing facilities and the world class food security record which major retailers demand. Our relationships with customers are based on a trust that we can not only respond to market changes, but anticipate and use them to our advantage. For their part, customers play a crucial role in building brand awareness and helping our businesses to grow in the wider UK market.

“Northern Ireland food has truly global potential and Invest NI will continue to promote the pure, natural quality of our produce in key markets outside Northern Ireland.”

Mr Ross said: “Now in its 8th year the Taste NI event is a firm fixture and offers visitors a culinary tour of Northern Ireland.

“This free event brings together 60 local food and drink suppliers and showcases the excellence of Northern Ireland produce.

“From the small artisan companies to the well know local brands here today, quality has been the watchword which has led to a global appreciation of our foodstuffs.