Belfast Telegraph

Final round of judging for Heartland Awards

By Rachel Martin

The final round of judging has begun on the shortlist for the first Food Heartland Awards next week.

Run by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and NFU Mutual, the awards aim to highlight the district's agri-food sector.

The competition includes categories showcasing the best use of two of Northern Ireland's three Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) products - Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels - which both originate in the area.

The 12 categories also include awards for best new start, innovation and best rising star.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner next Wednesday - May 25 - at Craigavon Civic Centre.

Judges include Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink ambassadors Paula McIntyre and chef Niall McKenna.

Darryn Causby, Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, said the awards had received an "overwhelming response".

"The awards will not only recognise the hard work and dedication of local food companies but celebrate the abundance of top quality produce and producers within our borough," he said.

The council established the Food Heartland Forum - a network of people from all parts of the sector, support bodies including Food NI, DARD and Southern Regional College - to work together to drive the sector forward.

Roger Wilson - chief executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council - said growing the agri-food sector in the area was a priority for the council.

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