Great Taste showcases quality of food companies in Northern Ireland

Peter Hannon (right), owner of Moira-based multi-Great Taste Award winner Hannan Meats, pictured with Newcastle-upon-Tyne chef and restaurateur Terry Laybourne

COMPANIES from Northern Ireland have gobbled up a record 180 gold stars at the Great Taste Awards, organised each year by the UK Guild of Fine Food and regarded the most prestigious food industry accolades in Europe.

And the success has been lauded by Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow as a “tremendous showcase of all that is exceptional in terms of quality, outstanding taste and innovation in food and drink".

Across the UK, some 12,336 products were judged, with 4,347 awarded a Great Taste accolade, and the Northern Ireland recipients were across the entire food and drink gambit - from beef to bacon, tea to gin.

Eighty local companies secured 244 gold stars for 180 different products this year.

And eight companies were awarded three gold stars including Hannan Meats (for two separate products), Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-op and Tempted Irish Cider Co. The others were Ispíní Charcuterie, Rooney Fish, Echlinville Distillery, Erin Grove Preserves and Baronscourt Estate.

Ms Shirlow added: “It's tremendously encouraging to see so many companies featured among the awards and especially among the nine achieving the top three gold star rating for genuinely world class products.

“They will now have an opportunity to win the Supreme Champion title currently help by Hannan Meats of Moira.

"It's also likely that several from Northern Ireland will be included among the Top 50 Foods, a recognition that could lead to significant new business in Britain.”

Jeremy Fitch, executive director of business and sector development at Invest NI said: “Northern Ireland produce is much sought after, not only in the UK and Europe but also in countries such as China and the United Arab Emirates.

"Awards such as these provide independent validation of the taste and quality of our local food and drink."

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