A local Food and Drink Network based in the Causeway Coast and Glens has harnessed cutting edge digital technology to showcase their local food and drink offer to new buyer markets and raise consumer awareness of the range, quality and innovation within the sector.
The Taste Causeway Collaborative Growth Network attended Balmoral Show 15th -18th May and used the event as a platform to launch the Taste Causeway concept, collective brand and digital platform to support the development of the local food and drink supply chain and entry into new markets.
The main Taste Causeway was in the Balmoral Food Pavilion and showcased 12 of the smaller artisan producers during the four day event, many of whom were exhibiting for the first time. Food and drink companies synonymous with the world famous Causeway Coast and Glens including Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil, Broughgammon Farm, Glenballyeamon Eggs, Chocolate Manor, Corndale Farm and North Coast Smokehouse were joined by new artisan peanut butter company Taste Joy, based in Coleraine and Jam at Your Doorstep from Armoy. Islander Kelp based in Rathlin also showcased its new kelp-based prototypes which will be launched in June this year.
Causeway Foodie Tours promoted its local food tours including Catch and Sea and Dram on the Bann. Other Taste Causeway companies including Morellis Ice-cream, Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Braemar Ice cream and Irish Black Butter were represented at the show on their own stands in and around the Food Pavilion.
A series of six recipe cards developed by local celebrity chef Paula McIntyre, using only Causeway Coast and Glens produce, were also launched at the show.
Local Chef, Gary Stewart from Tartine Bushmills made his debut at the Cookery Theatre on Wednesday demonstrating his award-winning sea food chowder.
Consumers were encouraged to engage with the new digital and social media channels which feature the multi award-winning products, people and stunning landscapes of the Causeway Coast and Glens. Information on where to buy, eat and experience the local food and drink are interwoven with stories, heritage and traditions associated with the region.
Taste Causeway is a three-year development programme, funded through the Invest NI Collaborative Growth Programme in partnership with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, aims to position the food and drink sector as a driver for economic growth and job creation. It will also support local food and drink businesses to capitalise on the important visitor market and drive visitor dwell time and spend across the destination.
Taste Causeway Chair, Leona Kane from Broighter Gold said: “We are really excited about launching Taste Causeway at the biggest food and drink exhibition in Northern Ireland. It is the culmination of many hours of hard work by local producers, hospitality and experience providers working collaboratively with our stakeholder partners. Taste Causeway will be a platform to drive significant growth and capitalise on the development opportunities identified in our three year Business Plan.”
Niall Casey, Director of Skills and Competitiveness at Invest NI said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Taste Causeway project through the Collaborative Growth programme. We know that companies who work collectively in pursuit of shared objectives often experience a range of benefits including increased sales, enhanced levels of innovation and improvements in skills.”
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Sean Bateson said: “Taste Causeway is an exciting, innovative programme that not only showcases our rich and diverse speciality food and drink scene but effectively enhances our destination as a whole.
“ I am delighted that the concept is getting the opportunity to present itself to an incredible audience as part of The Balmoral Show and hope it encourages increased future development of our tourism product.”