Twelve prizes are up for grabs in awards which will celebrate the food and drinks sector in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough.
The first Food Heartland Awards were launched in Armagh on Wednesday by Lord Mayor, Councillor Darryn Causby. The keynote speaker was chef Paul Rankin.
The awards will be a key highlight of a year-long calendar of initiatives by the council to champion the local agri-food sector as part of a wider initiative – the Food Heartland and NI Year of Food 2016.
The council has established a Food Heartland Forum which aims to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the agri-food industry, as well as to enhance the tourism experience and expand local agri-food exports.
TheHeartland categories are Best New Start Award; Best Growth Business Award; Best Export Business Award; Best Marketing Initiative Award; Innovation Award and Sustainability Award.
Also, Best Dish Using Local Ingredients; Best Use of a PGI Product; Rising Star Award (for anyone under the age of 25); Best Licensed Eating Establishment; Best Non-Licensed Eating Establishment; Best Independent Retail Food Business.
Entry is free with details available at www.foodheartland.com. The deadline is 5pm on Friday, April 15.
Alderman Kenneth Twyble said, “The awards will not only recognise the hard-work and dedication of local food companies but shine a spotlight on 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 celebrate and 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.”
Roger Wilson, chief executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, said the council’s number one priority is to grow the local economy and the agri-food sector is a priority growth area.
He added, “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.
“The Food Heartland Awards is a fantastic opportunity for this sector to showcase their excellence and innovation to Northern Ireland and beyond.”