Judges praise high calibre of record entries

Pictured at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) Awards judging session are from left,  Liam Casey (Lidl) Ryan Lemon (Marks & Spencer) Leanne Black (Tesco) Kenton Hilman (Ulster Bank) Freda Magill (Ulster Farmer's Union) John Hood (Invest NI) Louise Millsopp (DARD) Michael Bell (NIFDA) Cherrie Kenny (Livestock & Meat Commission) and Michael McCallion (ASDA)
Pictured at the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) Awards judging session are from left, Liam Casey (Lidl) Ryan Lemon (Marks & Spencer) Leanne Black (Tesco) Kenton Hilman (Ulster Bank) Freda Magill (Ulster Farmer's Union) John Hood (Invest NI) Louise Millsopp (DARD) Michael Bell (NIFDA) Cherrie Kenny (Livestock & Meat Commission) and Michael McCallion (ASDA)

Judging panel members for the 2015 Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) awards have paid tribute to the high standard and excellent quality of entries across the 10 categories of the NIFDA organised awards programme, supported by principal sponsor Ulster Bank.

Entries closed at the end of February with a record number submitted and a 10 strong judging panel met on 3rd March to agree category shortlisted nominees and winners. The results will be revealed at a black tie gala awards ceremony on Friday 20th March in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge.

Kenton Hilman, head of corporate and institutional banking NI at Ulster Bank who helped judge the entries said: “Ulster Bank has been involved with the NIFDA awards since 2007 and year on year we see huge growth and creativity within the food and drink sector despite ongoing challenges. All of the judges were impressed with the variety and calibre of companies small, medium and large who entered the 2015 awards which reflect the hard work and determination of the industry as a whole.

“In a first for this year the awards programme featured small, medium and large companies in separate categories and NIFDA received an excellent level of entries for Best New Product from small companies throughout Northern Ireland. We believe this delivers a very positive message about the future of the industry.

“Food and drink is a key sector for Ulster Bank and alongside our principal sponsorship of the Balmoral Show we’re pleased to also support NIFDA’s awards programme. With many local companies, from start-ups to firmly established organisations aiming to further expand, through our sector specific proposition we can offer them the people and products to help them grow.”