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13th Nov 2012

Food Industry Hungry For Growth

NORTHERN Ireland’s food and drink industry employs 20,000 people – and is growing, according to Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster.

She was speaking at a special Celebration of Success organised by Invest Northern Ireland recently for winners of Great Taste and Irish Food Awards.

Commenting on how important the food and drink sector is to the local economy, generating over £3billion last year and employing almost 20,000 people, the Minister said: “This is a growing industry, increasingly winning significant business outside Northern Ireland.

“Many of our biggest companies and most successful exporters are also in food and drink. It’s an industry with immense potential, one which benefits from our green environment and rich heritage of animal husbandry and food processing.

“It’s an industry with the sort of provenance, wholesome, richly flavoured and safe products that consumers everywhere are now demanding. “I am convinced that you have the passion, the products and professionalism to turn your achievements into worthwhile sales in Britain and beyond.

“Competitions like the Great Taste Awards and the Irish Food Awards are very serious business, because winning gold stars and gold medals raises the profile of local companies and leads to sales outside Northern Ireland, which, as you will all be aware, is what the Executive, my department and Invest NI want to promote.

“I would encourage you to take advantage of all that Invest NI has to offer in assistance and practical support measures to help you explore sales opportunities abroad. This includes Great Britain which offers huge opportunities as an importer of around £18billion a year in food and drink.”

More than 40 companies took part in the special event, which included an exhibition to showcase their products to the industry and a masterclass focused on capitalising on their awards’ success to help boost sales abroad.

Hannan Meats of Moira was the winner of the Supreme Champion award and the Invest NI sponsored Northern Ireland Golden Fork in the Great Taste Awards, organised annually by the UK Guild of Fine Food.

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