Record number of Northern Ireland companies in Great Taste Awards Published: 09 May, 2008
FIFTY Northern Ireland food companies have tabled 250 new products in a bid to strike gold in the prestigious Great Taste Awards, the UKs leading event for smaller food businesses.
The entries for 2008 represent a record level of interest in Northern Ireland in the awards. In 2004, when the competition was launched, just five companies entered 24 new products in the awards.
For the first time in the history of the awards, judging of the medal contenders from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was held outside Great Britain and took place during the recent IFEX food event in Belfast.
The awards are organised annually by the influential Guild of Fine Food in London and cover a broad range of food categories including beverages, dressings, pickles and chutneys, biscuits, frozen desserts, sausages, bacon and cured meats.
In 2007, 11 Northern Ireland food companies won 20 gold awards in the UKs largest independent evaluation of fine food and drink.
The overall Northern Ireland winner last year was Drumgooland Smokehouse based in Castlewellan in County Down, an artisan smokery run by Suzanne Smyth which gained two gold medals for its hot smoked duck and hot smoked salmon.
The Northern Ireland winners were selected from among 4,500 foods submitted by producers from throughout the British Isles and other parts of Europe.
Maynard Mawhinney, Director of Food at Invest Northern Ireland, the regions economic development agency, said: We have an excellent track record in the awards. Many smaller companies have won gold medals for originality and quality over the years. More local companies than ever before are now bidding for gold.”
The Great Taste Awards, now in their 15th year, has gained widespread recognition among the countrys retailers and consumers as the benchmark for fine food in the UK. The awards are also an accreditation scheme. Products bearing the logo have been independently proven to be of originality, quality and excellence.
The winners will be announced in August and will receive their awards at the Speciality and Fine Food Exhibition in London in early September.
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