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New campaign boosts sale of Northern Ireland eels by 30%

By Rachel Martin

Northern Ireland eel sales increased 30% during a week-long campaign to increase the popularity of Lough Neagh eels, it's been claimed.

Organisers of Eel-Eat Week said the initiative had been a "huge success" and plans are already in place to develop Eel-Eat 2017.

Restaurant sales of the dish - a delicacy in several countries including Japan - were up during the event at the end of June.

And several chefs have said that they want to continue to serve eels, despite the campaign having finished.

Restaurants involved in Eel-Eat included two of Michael Deane's restaurants, as well as venues in the Hastings Hotels Group and Coco and Saphyre in Belfast. In Armagh, The Moody Boar and Uluru Bar & Grill also took part.

Eimear Kearney of Lough Neagh Partnership said: "Lough Neagh Eel is loved globally, so we wanted to offer the general public here in Northern Ireland the chance to get out and sample it on their doorstep.

"The concept of Eel-Eat was 'cooking' for quite a while, so to see it come to fruition and for it to be such a success is proof that there really is appetite at home for Lough Neagh Eel.

"Our marketing campaign took on a life of its own throughout the week with restaurateurs, chefs, customers and diners really getting behind Eel-Eat, engaging on social media and telling us how much they were enjoying what was maybe their first taste of Lough Neagh Eel."

Eel-Eat was supported by Tourism NI, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Food NI and the Lough Neagh Fishermen's Co-operative Society.

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