Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster today praised the Northern Ireland food and drink companies which secured a record number of gold stars in the UK Great Taste Awards.
Fourteen products from seven local companies were awarded the highest accolade of three gold stars for their products in the prestigious annual event organised by the influential UK Guild of Fine Food. Around 70 local companies secured almost 320 gold stars.
Praising the success of the companies, the Minister said: “This is marvellous news for food and drink, our biggest manufacturing industry, one which generates over £4billion annually to the local economy.
“Our companies have surpassed last year’s tremendous successes in terms of products being recognised for the outstanding quality and innovation that retailers, foodservice organisations and consumers are seeking.”
In September, the local ‘3 star’ winners will be considered for both the UK overall and Northern Ireland regional titles.
Arlene Foster continued: “It is immensely encouraging to see Northern Ireland winners in virtually every category and this will further enhance the profile of our products and processors in our key markets of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, other parts of Europe and the US.
“Undoubtedly the Great Taste Awards have become a real centrepiece for Northern Ireland’s vibrant food and drink industry. They are a great celebration of the way in which people are using local produce to create fantastic products and they highlight how small local businesses are increasingly catching the eye of major international retailers and foodservice organisations.
“Food and drink here is a dynamic and progressive industry that’s positioned for even faster growth particularly in markets outside Northern Ireland. And it’s an industry the Executive and Invest Northern Ireland are keen to assist to achieve its undoubted potential.”