Food sector celebrates a healthy appetite for local fayre

Local food was the hot topic at an event in Belfast today hosted by Food NI, the promotional voice for Northern Ireland’s food and drink sector. The organisation was unveiling its new ‘Our Food, So Good’ brand identity, which will be used to promote the excellence of local food at key events, in publications and in retail stores. The organisation also launched its 2012 ‘Taste of Ulster’ Guide to the audience of food and hospitality sector representatives including Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill.

John Best, Chairman of Food NI said, “Northern Ireland is home to some of the finest fresh food in the world. Indeed, our agri food sector is one of our most valuable commodities and a key driver in stimulating our wider economy.  We have developed the ‘Our Food, So Good’ message to help encourage the pride and enthusiasm we can share in our local food sector, particularly during 2012, such an important year for tourism in Northern Ireland.

“The ‘Our Food, So Good’ message will be visible on publications such as our Taste of Ulster Guide and at events throughout the local food calendar including the Balmoral Show. We have also secured great support from the local retail sector, who will use the message to help raise awareness of local food at consumer level.”

Food NI also launched the 2012 Taste of Ulster guide this week, a local ‘foodie’s bible’ listing over 130 award-winning Northern Ireland eateries; a look behind the scenes of local food businesses such as Irwin’s Bakery, Punjana Tea and Mash Direct, recipes from Dale Farm, Moy Park and Hastings Hotels and a guide to signature events taking place throughout 2012.

John Best continues, “Each year we have more and more members coming into the Taste of Ulster Guide, which highlights the wealth of culinary talent and first class food on our doorstep.”

Speaking at the launch event, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O’Neill said: “The Taste of Ulster Guide not only raises the profile of local food but also provides a significant boost to the rural economy and local communities.

“At a time when the north is attracting new tourists, the Guide will help them find locations to dine that celebrate the attributes and values of our local food and drink.  It is therefore very encouraging to see the Taste of Ulster grow from strength to strength and I expect that with its future promotion across the nine counties, the initiative with prove to be a continued success for many years to come.”