Local food and drink start-ups will have the chance to showcase their talents to an international audience at the Northern Ireland Open.
The Ulster Bank Food Festival, hosted at Galgorm Castle during the NI Open from 27th – 31st July will provide businesses such as those from the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery in Belfast and Artisan NI the chance to set-up shop for samples and sales at the purpose-built marquee. The NI Open is Northern Ireland’s annual professional golf tournament, which continues to grow every year and is truly a golf tournament for all the family.
Building on the success of last year’s initial launch and the bank’s presence at the Balmoral Show, one of the UK’s largest agricultural and food shows, it marks renewed commitment by Ulster Bank to the sector to help businesses maximise opportunities for export.
The event also highlights the work that is being done to support Northern Ireland’s important food and drink industry, with 2016 designated as Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink. According to the most recent estimates, the turnover of the Northern Ireland food and drinks processing sector is around £4.7bn.
Joining Ulster Bank’s Terry Robb (Regional Manager Private Banking) and Galgorm Castle’s Christopher Brooke at the launch of the Ulster Bank Food Festival were local producers Paula Heaney, who owns Belfast based healthy juices outlet Skinny Malinky’s, Whitehead handcrafted confectionery producer Linda McGibbon, founder of Sea Sugar and Alice McIlhagger who runs Brambleberry Jams based at her home in Ballinderry Lower.
Terry Robb, said: “Not only does the NI Open provide a platform for top international talent, it also offers local food and drink businesses a chance to show what they’re made of and reach new markets at a time when the spotlight is firmly on outstanding local quality produce. We’re proud to provide help for what matters to their businesses.”
Gary Henry, Northern Ireland Open Event Director, commented: “We are delighted to once again be working with our long-term partner Ulster Bank on this year’s NI Open and Food Festival. We look forward to welcoming upwards of 40,000 visitors to Galgorm Castle over event week and hope they enjoy the world class local produce on offer.”