Michael Bell’s New Year Honours is ‘the icing on the cake’
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The head of Northern Ireland’s biggest food and drink trade body is among a number of business recipients recognised in the New Year Honours list.
Michael Bell, who is executive director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA), has been awarded an OBE for services to the food and drink industry and to the region's economy.
From Holywood, Michael’s passion for food began as a small boy, watching his father work in the family home bakery, with an early memory of a mountain of marzipan inspiring a career dedicated to food and drink.
He has been at the helm of the NIFDA since its formation, and in that time food and drink has grown to Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing sector supporting 113,000 jobs.
Michael Bell OBE said: “I am humbled to receive this honour. Food and drink is my lifelong passion, from watching my late father in the family bakery to spending decades working in and on behalf of the industry.
“While I’m personally delighted, this is also recognition for Northern Ireland food and drink as a whole, and the 113,000 people working in jobs related to the sector.
“Food and drink is one of Northern Ireland’s most dynamic and successful industries, and our NIFDA members are among the most innovative businesses in Northern Ireland.
“It is a privilege to champion this great industry, and this honour is the icing on the cake.”
Michael is a chartered scientist and a fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology and holds a diploma in company direction from the Institute of Directors and is a chartered director.
For 12 years, Michael worked in the bakery trade in Northern Ireland and Malta. During this period, he worked closely with major UK retailers and was the youngest member on the senior management board of Ormeau Bakery.
Since its foundation in 1996, Michael has been instrumental in the development of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA). He also led the development of the Northern Ireland Food Chain Certification Ltd and the redevelopment of Taste of Ulster.
Michael is currently a board member of Agri-Quest and has held similar roles with AgriSearch and safefood.
In March 2018 Michael was elected vice president of the Institute of Food and Science Technology. Michael supported the establishment of FareShare in Northern Ireland in 2014.
For many years, Michael has been a respected judge of various food and drink awards – at both local and national levels. He has also been instrumental in a number of European collaborative projects. With just shy of four decades’ experience working in the food and drink industry, Michael remains passionate about inspiring the younger generation into a rewarding and stable career in the world of food and drink.
When he is not savouring good food and drink, Michael enjoys sailing and hill walking.