Judging has begun on the shortlist for the first Food Heartland Awards in association with NFU Mutual, led by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.
Featuring 12 categories, the awards, which will take place on 25th May at Craigavon Civic Centre, will showcase the stars of the borough’s local produce, the people behind the thriving agri-food sector as well as highlight the sector’s potential for growth and positive impact on the local economy.
This new initiative, only launched in March, received an overwhelming response across all categories but particularly within the categories showcasing the best use of local ingredients and best use of two of Northern Ireland’s three EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products – Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels – both which are indigenous to the Borough.
The Food Heartland Awards feature 12 individual awards categories which reflect the passion, innovation and excellence of the local industry. Categories include Best New Start Business, sponsored by JPH Law, Innovation Award sponsored by Avondale Foods, Best use of a PGI Product sponsored by Tourism Northern Ireland and Rising Star, sponsored by Southern Regional College. High profile, local food and Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink ambassadors Paula McIntyre and chef Niall McKenna formed part of the judging panel which ensures an impartial and expert opinion on the shortlisted candidates and eventual winners.
Looking forward to the Awards Gala evening, Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Darryn Causby said:
“I am delighted that our first Food Heartland Awards in association with NFU Mutual has received an overwhelming entry response. The Awards will not only recognise the hard-work and dedication of local food companies but celebrate the abundance of top quality produce and producers that exists within our borough. The Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016 provides us with a fantastic opportunity to showcase our wonderful products and businesses on a global scale as well as encourage innovation and growth which will only serve to have a positive impact on our local economy. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the shortlisted entries and look forward to the awards gala evening on 25th May at Craigavon Civic Centre.”
Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council commented: “Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s number one priority is to grow the local economy and the agri-food sector is a priority growth area. This was very much demonstrated at the start of the year when we launched the Food Heartland brand in Carn Industrial Estate, Craigavon, to champion the quality and volume of food production in the borough. Against the backdrop of the Northern Ireland Year of Food 2016 the awards provides us with the perfect opportunity to celebrate the stars of our local produce as well as the people behind this thriving sector. The Food Heartland Awards in association with NFU Mutual is a fantastic opportunity for this sector to showcase their excellence and innovation to Northern Ireland and beyond. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our associate sponsor NFU Mutual as well as our category sponsors for their support and to wish all of those shortlisted good luck for the Awards evening on 25th May.”
Libby Morgan, from NFU Mutual, Associate Sponsor of the Food Heartland Awards said: “On behalf of NFU Mutual we are delighted to be the associate sponsor for the First Food Heartland Awards. This is a fantastic initiative which has a huge connection with many of our Northern Ireland customers in the agri-food sector. The awards are a great opportunity for us to show our support for this vibrant and innovative sector as well as to play our part in encouraging continued innovation and growth. We congratulate everyone who has been shortlisted and look forward to welcoming and celebrating all of the achievements at the Awards evening on 25th May.”
The Awards gala evening will be hosted at Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre on Wednesday 25th May. Tickets priced at £50 plus VAT. For further details visit www.foodheartland.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Food Heartland Awards on Facebook Food Heartland and twitter@FoodHeartlandNI #FHLAwards16.