Tesco Northern Ireland has announced a programme of events worth half a million pounds in support of the local agri food sector to local food and drinks industry to engage with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016.
The year-long programme, which includes established local suppliers and artisan producers will include in-store food fairs, multi-store sampling, radio and press advertising, PR and media support as well as the highly anticipated annual Taste Northern Ireland Festival, set to be the biggest and best yet.
The launch event brought together representatives from the food and drink industry at the firm’s flagship Extra store at Knocknagoney, and was officiated by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery.
“Year of Food &Drink 2016 is an opportunity to celebrate our food and drink successes and capitalise on these through trade and consumer communications,” said Mr Lavery.
“It is also an opportunity to harness the benefits of these successes to drive quality, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in our food and drink sector.”
Northern Ireland, he added, would gain greater benefits via increased visitor satisfaction and spend, as well as increased demand for export sales with the strength of its food producers and the stories behind them the foundations of this success.
“I welcome Tesco’s commitment to the local agri-food sector which has seen an increase in annual investment from £50m in 1997 to £550m in 2015.
“The Year of Food and Drink 2016 is an opportunity to provide a platform for sharing the supply chain story from primary producer through to consumer and to show the strength of our agri-food industry as a whole.”
Brendan Guidera of Tesco said: “The Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink is a celebration of everything that is delicious here and what’s more it pays homage to our local food and drinks businesses – an industry that is truly bolstering the Northern Irish economy and one that is gaining more support than ever before from customers keen to support local businesses.
Michele Shirlow, CEO of Food NI, said: “The initiative is designed to celebrate our quality produce, the businesses behind the success stories and the platform being provided by Tesco Northern Ireland does exactly that, and more by facilitating maximum engagement between the suppliers, consumers and industry bodies.”