Johnston Press NI has launched its first-ever major event to be branded under all of its titles.
The publishing company owns the News Letter, Derry Journal and Morton Newspapers and organises a number of annual awards throughout Northern Ireland – but never before has it pointed all of its publishing firepower here in the direction of one event.
The reason behind the Grow Make Eat Drink Awards is so that all 23 titles can put their weight behind the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 initiative.
Announcing the awards, which will be presented at a prize-giving dinner at the Ramada Plaza, Belfast in August, Group Editor William Allen, said the company wants to focus on the success of Northern Ireland in many fields.
He said: “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.
“We’ve got so much to be proud of and so much has come together in this special year including the continued rise of Rory McIlroy, Carl Frampton and the forthcoming Euro football championships.
“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.
“To demonstrate the importance of how we view the sector this is the first time that our awards have been branded under all of our NI titles.”
He added that the challenges facing both the publishing industry and food and drink sector were similar – how to retain traditional methods and values but harness the power of new technology in an ever-changing world.
Mr Allen added: “In the 21st century, all of our titles are much more than newspapers – and our multi-platform approach has attracted bigger audiences than ever before. But at the root of our business is an old fashioned and traditional ethos – that we exist to serve our customers. The same marriage of old-style virtues and modern techniques and technology is found in the food and drink industry.
“To pay tribute to the food and drink sector in this landmark year, we are producing a number of seasonal supplements to complement other platforms devoted to this exciting initiative. A bonus for readers will come in the form of a number of competitions featuring some great prizes sponsored by members of the food, drink and tourism sector.
“But the icing on the 2016 cake is the reason we are gathered here today.”
The Grow Make Eat Drink Awards, which are guaranteed to be a highlight of the 2016 Year of Food and Drink celebrations, will be held on August 11 in the Ramada Plaza hotel. The hotel is one of the main sponsors of the awards, along with Invest NI, Livestock and Meat Commission and Food NI.