Showcasing our local produce at the NI Investment Summit
By Michele Shirlow MBE, Chief Executive, FoodNI
One thing that always evokes a sense of gratitude, is appreciation from visitors to Northern Ireland of our excellent food and drink. In my view we are head and shoulders above many other regions in terms of our food taste, quality, food miles and even social awareness. No wonder we were named World’s Best Food Region at the World Travel Awards for 2018/19.
The Northern Ireland Investment Summit is taking place on 12th and 13th September, hosted by the Department for Business and Trade in partnership with the Northern Ireland Office and Invest Northern Ireland. It is an upcoming opportunity for Northern Ireland to show its food credentials to over 100 key international influencers and potential investors. I recall several years ago research reflecting European conference organisers frustration at the lack of differentiation in conference hospitality. Their exasperation was that you could close your eyes and food would taste the same in any city in Europe. Not so in Belfast and other cities across Northern Ireland.
One of the positive benefits provided by the Investment Summit is the opportunity to show off our local larder.
One of the positive benefits provided by the Investment Summit is the opportunity to show off our local larder. Because of our landscape and dependable rain, we have always been world class at growing pasture, hence we are an outstanding region for grass fed beef, lamb and dairy. And as knowledge of micro and macro nutrients has grown, the benefits of natural feeding systems and short food miles are better understood.
In the past 25 years our food offer has become outstanding. Farm house cheeses, ice creams, butters, yoghurts, speciality meats, ciders, oils, vinegars and of course bakery products are just some local products to have won international awards. In Northern Ireland we are excellent at good honest food, no frills, no fuss, just quality that is head and shoulders above other regions.
A vibrant drinks sector has also emerged, ciders, beers, gins and whiskey galore. Again, these are nationally and internationally award-winning products and it’s great to see Northern Ireland restored to its rightful place as a serious whiskey producing region.
A number of artisan products such as Irish Black Butter, Dart Mountain Cheese, Just Live a Little granola, Clements eggs and Ewings Glenarm smoked salmon are included.
So, what kind of food memories will the delegation coming to the conference take away with them? The chefs have created a wonderful fusion of products that we all have in the fridge at home, from Dromona Butter and Cheese to Wilsons Country potatoes. Local Carnbrooke and McAtamneys beef, Armagh Rocvale chicken and local pork feature highly on the menu. A number of artisan products such as Irish Black Butter, Dart Mountain Cheese, Just Live a Little granola, Clements eggs and Ewings Glenarm smoked salmon are included. Cauliflower and Broccoli from Conway farm also feature.
As for desserts, as well as some of our traditional baking like Shortbread and Barmbrack, the Armagh Bramley apple features with Draynes ice cream and buttermilk sorbet. And let’s not forget about our alcohol producers, the chefs have cleverly used local drinks such as Long Meadow Cider, Belfast Black, Bushmills and local ginger ale to add flavour to many of the creative dishes.
So my hopes are that the menu, with outstanding local tastes and flavours, and with short food miles, creates a memorable backdrop for the summit, promotes local produce, inspires international business deals and leaves the delegates with a flavour of Northern Ireland to tempt them back soon.
Notes to Editors
Invest Northern Ireland
Invest Northern Ireland works with individuals, companies and organisations in manufacturing and tradable services which show the ambition and commitment to grow by being more innovative, more entrepreneurial and more internationally focused.
Invest NI’s resources are focused on assisting our clients to improve competitiveness, increase innovation, promote a stronger international focus and create more positive attitudes to enterprise.
Invest NI’s full range of support and services are delivered through local offices in Belfast, Coleraine, Ballymena, Craigavon, Londonderry, Newry, Enniskillen and Omagh, and an international office network.
For more information please contact Invest NI, Press Office, Bedford Square, Bedford Street, Belfast, BT2 7ES. Telephone 028 9069 8385.