30th April 2020 - Page 11



BALMORAL SHOW
FARMWEEK
MAY 09 2019
11
Food NI Food Pavilion will showcase
NI as World’s Best Food Destination
BY MICHELE SHIRLOW,
CHIEF EXECUTIVE FOOD NI
B
n Michele Shirlow (right), Food NI chief
executive, and Christine Cousins promoting
Northern Ireland as the World’s Best Food
Destination at Borough Market in London.
ALMORAL is such an exciting
time for everyone at Food NI. We
are excited by the opportunity
this wonderful show presents to
showcase the quality and variety
of fabulous food and drink now being
produced by companies across Northern
Ireland.
This year the showcase in the Food NI
Food Pavilion will be bigger than in 2018
in terms of products on show and to be
sampled by upwards of 100 participating
companies of all sizes and representing
virtually every sector of what has become
our most dynamic manufacturing industry.
The Food NI Food Pavilion will also
highlight
Northern
Ireland’s
global
reputation as ‘The World’s Best Food
Destination’, an accolade gained at the
influential World Travel Trade Awards in
London last November. The award from
the travel and tourism industry was in
recognition of the Food NI spearheaded
Year of Food and Drink in 2016, a year
which changed the industry’s image for
ever. Tourism and food are now firmly
established as two of the most dynamic and
important industries.
Many of the companies which were
actively involved in the Year of Food
and Drink and subsequent promotional
activities will be showing superb products
in the Food NI Food Pavilion.
Visitors will have the opportunity to
sample the products, meet the people
producing them and, of course, purchase
the exceptional produce. And remember
opting for local food and drink is vitally
important because this supports local
enterprise and innovation and the
economic wellbeing, particularly of rural
communities. Food and tourism are
probably the only industries which have a
significant reach beyond the greater Belfast
area.
Another important development in
these areas is the developing relationship
between food producers and tourism in
the shape of the food tours now available
in many parts of Northern Ireland. This
development has been encouraged by
investment by even smaller companies in
visitor centres that enable people to see
how the products are made.
It reflects the growing confidence
throughout the industry and the strength
of the commitment of producers here to
transparency. Consumers can count on
the premium quality, wholesomeness and
outstanding taste of local food and drink.
Consumers concerned about food miles can
buy local without any worries. And we’re
also seeing many more smaller producers
creating vegan and vegetarian options
which shows the industry’s focus on market
trends and developing opportunities.
We are delighted to welcome The Food
Foundation to Balmoral this year, to launch
Peas Please in Northern Ireland. They will
encourage people to eat more vegetables,
and will also urge industry to make pledges
to increase the portions of veg in their
products. They will also be present in the
Healthy Horticulture Area at the show, to
encourage children to eat their veg.
What’s also encouraging for Food NI
and the industry is the growth in retail
outlets here now featuring locally sourced
food and drink from suppliers, especially
smaller firms, close to their shops.
There’s been a significant growth in
delis, farm shops and smaller retailers
now prepared to give local producers
the opportunity to reach shoppers. As
a result, it’s now easier than ever to
purchase local food and drink and to taste
their products in sampling sessions. And
larger supermarkets and independent
retail chains are also increasingly listing
products from smaller enterprises.
The future is also looking good for many
of these companies which have taken part
and won business in our Invest NI-backed
promotional activities in Britain at high
profile food trade and consumer events
such as Speciality Food, Glasgow, Fine Food
North at Harrogate and Farm Shop and Deli
in Birmingham.
Food and drink, as our pavilion at
Balmoral will show, is a sunrise industry
with a tremendous future both here and
abroad.

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