Top UK Quality Awards To Two Local Food Specialists For Their Fabulous And Original Foods

I am delighted to begin this week’s review of the latest developments in the food and drink industry here by extending warmest congratulations to two local companies which have just been successful in the annual UK Quality Food and Drink Awards, among the industry’s most important events.

The successful local companies both won highly contested category awards. They were Heavenly Tasty Organics from Augher in Co Tyrone and White’s Oats of Tandragee, Ireland’s biggest oat miller with their time honoured oats.

White’s, part of Fane Valley Group, one of Ireland’s biggest farmers’ co-operatives has been milling oats for well over a century and is the producer of Speedicook, Northern Ireland’s biggest porridge brand, which next year celebrates the centenary of its launch in 1920. White’s has tremendous sales in Britain and further afield of its porridge oats, muesli and granolas. White’s lifted the title for the UK’s Best Breakfast Product for its Organic Jumbo Porridge Oats in the quality awards, a competition that’s been choosing the best food and drink in Britain for over 40 years. It’s a tremendous accolade and one which I hope will benefit White’s and their growers.

Heavenly Tasty Organics, a pioneer of organic foods and snacks for babies and toddlers, was the winner of the ‘Best Baby Snack’ for its unique veggie waffles. The small business, founded by Shauna McCarney-Blair and husband James Blair in 2009, is now recognised as a market leader in organic and nutritious foods for youngsters. As well as significant sales in the UK, the small company exports to many global markets especially the Middle East.

Both companies have benefitted from Invest NI support and funding over the years and especially in terms of international marketing. Food NI is delighted to be working with Invest NI on its important Small Business Programme. Eight smaller companies, for instance, are benefiting from this InvestNI Programme this week at Gifted, the big craft and speciality food and drink show which opened yesterday at the RDS in Dublin. And we’ll be delivering another element of the programme withInvest NI and another group of local producers at the big Scotland Speciality Food show in Glasgow at the start of January.

As well as the eight companies on the Food NI/Invest NI showcase, a further five Food NI members have their own stands. They are: Brownie Barn, a producer of brownies and cakes from Newtownabbey; Burren Balsamics of Richhill, a specialist in balsamic vinegars; Fluffy Meringue, Clogher, a supplier of handmade meringues;

Granny Shaw’s Fudge, Glenarm, a leading fudge producer; and Harnett’s Oils of Waringstown, a producer of culinary oils.

Gifted is a popular show for the burgeoning craft industry on the island of Ireland. Our ‘Taste the Greatness’ presentation is an integral part of the hugely popular Spectacular Food Emporium which attracts many thousands of visitors seeking original food and drink for the Christmas dinner as well as deliciously different gifts.

Visitors to the Gifted will be able to sample and buy an extensive portfolio of locally produced food and drink and to talk to the producers about their business.

On show will be handcrafted cheese from Ballylisk in Portadown; preserves and condiments from Erin Grove in Enniskillen; baked goods including original Santa Claus shortbread and puddings made by Holmes Bakery in Portadown under licence from the Santa Claus Foundation in Finland; Irish Black butter savoury spread from Portrush; seafood from Lecale Harvest in Killough; Noisy Nuts of Ballygowan with its flavoured nuts; and authentic Italian sauces from Peppup in Newtownards. Armagh Cider will also be sampling apple juice, ciders and tonics from Portadown.

It’s a very representative presentation of the very best of local food and drink with original and wholesome products. If you are in Dublin, why not drop in to see what our companies have to offer for the Christmas festivities as well as the rest of the year. You won’t be disappointed.