Fabulous food to taste – don’t miss it!

Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive of FoodNI
Michele Shirlow, Chief Executive of FoodNI

The Food NI Food Pavilion at Balmoral has now become our most important activity in our extensive programme of support for the dynamic and ambitious local food and drink industry.

It’s a tremendous opportunity to showcase our wonderful food and drink to the many thousands who visit this most important event in the Northern Ireland agri-food calendar. It’s also vitally important for local companies, especially the artisans and smaller businesses, to meet the many thousands of visitors to the show. And it’s an event at which the companies do good business, both on the day and in the future, as buyers scout for up and coming talent.

Our Food Pavilion this year is the biggest to date and will feature upwards of 100 companies, both large and small, and across most sectors of an industry which contributes around £5 billion to the local economy and is being justifiably celebrated during Year of Food and Drink 2016.

The pavilion has become one of the highlights of the show and demonstrates the excellence of local produce. It also includes a packed programme of cooking demonstrations by 40 top chefs on how to create meals, using the superb ingredients that are readily available throughout Northern Ireland. They’ll be demonstrating how our great ingredients can be used to create wonderfully tasty meals at home.

The pavilion reflects our commitment to the successful Year of Food and Drink 2016 campaign that’s been increasing awareness of the quality, originality and outstanding taste of our food and drink, the producers and, of course, the farmers and fishermen whose skills and dedication ensure superbly tasty and wholesome ingredients.

Do spend time in the Food Pavilion. I can promise you a real treat. Thousands of products will be on show. I think you’ll be surprised to discover the extent of food and drink now being made here….and increasingly achieving success outside Northern Ireland.

There’s a tremendous line up in the Food Pavilion this year, covering virtually ever sector of food and drink here and demonstrating innovation in artisan cheeses, breads, ice cream, meats, eggs, condiments and beverages, including our excellent cider that has won great acclaim from industry experts.

The Food NI Food Pavilion is in fact the biggest and best showcase of local food and drink so far during the Year of Food and Drink, now in its fifth month and focusing on the theme of Landscapes and Places.

It’s probably the most striking demonstration of the close link between food and drink and landscape and places and particularly the people, farming and fishing families who are passionate about conserving our exceptional countryside.

As well as being able to taste and purchase many of the foods on show, you will also be able to see and talk to the producers. They’ll be happy to explain how they create such wonderful products and the fascinating stories behind their business.

All Food NI activities are shaped by this commitment to promote the growth of the local industry and encourage employment opportunities and support the economic wellbeing particularly of rural communities where most of the producers are based.

As well as organising our own exhibitions and supporting those of other bodies including local councils, Food NI works closely with chefs across Northern Ireland in encouraging them to create individual dishes and meals using local ingredients. This activity also creates business for producers with local chefs and with diners who enjoy the meals. We are encouraging chefs to showcase local ingredients in their menus, many are already doing so and more will follow their lead.

Other key initiatives by Food NI have included supporting the Taste of Ulster shop at Belfast International Airport with the inclusion of local spirits and beers in the Duty Free in Departures, the Taste of Ulster You Tube channel highlighting Northern Ireland producers and products.

In addition, we are working with BBC Good Food Show to ensure the success of this important consumer-led event in Belfast in October, another consumer-led show that will offer worthwhile benefits for local producers and another key pillar in our Year of Food and Drink.