Innovative local companies celebrated at NI food and drink awards

Dale Farm, Genesis Bakery, Hinch Distillery and Big Pot scoop top awards at gala event

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 3:00 pm

Over 400 guests turned out in style to celebrate Northern Ireland’s top food and drink companies at the 2022 Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards. A total of 13 awards were presented at the gala ceremony, hosted by the BBC’s Mark Simpson in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast.

Hosted by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and supported by principal sponsor firmus energy, the awards are widely recognised as a key indicator of quality and success for food manufacturers and processors, offering local companies an invaluable opportunity to showcase innovative, quality products in front of key customers and stakeholders.

This year’s awards were bigger than ever, with categories including new additions the Environmental Sustainability Award and Healthier Product Innovation Award.

Niall Martindale, interim managing director, Sharon Campbell, Dale Farm and Eamonn Donnelly, Dale Farm. Dale Farm won the Large Company Best New Product award for Dromona Lactose Free Sliced Cheese

The four firmus energy Best New product awards were picked up by Dale Farm in the large company category with Dromona Lactose Free Sliced cheese, Genesis Bakery in the medium company category for its Meringue A Tang Biscake; while Hinch Distillery collected the small company category award for Hinch Whiskey, with Karri Kitchen Ltd named highly commended for Mango Chicken Curry. Cookstown-based Big Pot Co won the micro company award with Vegan Sweet Potato Soup, and received highly commended for its Vegan Butternut Squash and Chipotle Bean Soup in the same category.

Congratulating the winners on the night, Michael Bell, executive director, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA), said: “Food and drink is one of Northern Ireland’s key strategic sectors, supporting some 113,000 jobs across the supply chain and generating £4.9billion value added here annually. That commercial success is built on the passion, ingenuity and hard work of food and drink companies of all sizes right across Northern Ireland. The awards are a celebration of those companies, and the people within them.

“On behalf of all of us at NIFDA I would like to thank everyone who entered, our event sponsors and our expert judges – this event would not be possible without their hard work and support. Our congratulations go to all of tonight’s winners, they should be proud of their achievements, and we look forward to their continued growth and further success in the future.”

Niall Martindale, interim managing director at firmus energy, principal sponsor for the event, explained: “It has been a privilege to support NIFDA as the 2022 principal Awards sponsor.

Niall Martindale, interim managing director, firmus energy and JP Lyttle, commercial director Genesis Bakery. Genesis Bakery was awarded the Medium Company Best New Product Award for its Meringue A Tang Biscake

“Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector continues to go from strength to strength and firmus energy has an important role to play to support it. By connecting companies to the gas network, and introducing sustainable gases such as Biomethane and Hydrogen into the gas network in the future, we can help the industry operate more sustainably and deliver the government’s net zero carbon goals.

“On behalf of all at firmus energy I would like to offer our congratulations to all winners, and all entrants across the 13 awards categories.”

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Niall Martindale, interim managing director, firmus energy is pictured with Dr Terry Cross OBE, chairman, Hinch Distillery. Hinch Distillery collected the Small Company Best New Product award for Hinch Whiskey

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Alison and Malcolm Seaney, Big Pot Co are pictured with Niall Martindale, interim managing director, firmus energy. Big Pot Co picked up the Micro Company Best New Product award for its Vegan Sweet Potato Soup, and also was highly commended in the same category for its Vegan Butternut Squash and Chipotle Bean Soup

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