Belfast Telegraph

New plan aims to promote Northern Ireland's world-class food sector

By Margaret Canning

Food NI has launched a five-year plan to promote Northern Ireland's produce both at home and overseas. The marketing and promotional body's Taste the Greatness strategy is aimed at telling food stories from family farms around the province, in the process making world-class ingredients from the region stand on their own.

Food NI organises the Food Pavilion at the annual Balmoral Show. The organisation was also a driving force behind the 2016 Year of Food and Drink.

Now it plans to promote Northern Ireland food at major events in Great Britain - which is an important marketplace for the industry. The strategic plan includes increasing innovation in the industry, increasing international awareness of produce, encouraging start-ups in the industry and increasing its appeal to younger people.

Food NI is also supported by public sector bodies in the region including Tourism NI, Invest NI and the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Enterprise.

In January, Tourism NI and the Belfast Telegraph hosted the 2016 Year of Food and Drink Awards.

Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow said: "A key element in our new strategy is to take the message about just how great our food and drink really is to Britain - and then beyond.

"Our work will be focused on helping to preserve family farming, on celebrating our world-class ingredients and causing an explosion of authentic and innovative producers. As Taste the Greatness says: 'It's putting greatness on plates and in glasses'.

"We aim to continue to champion Northern Ireland produce and to increase international standout for Northern Ireland food and drink by 2020. And it's an objective we are confident can - and will - be achieved."

She said she believed Food NI had the knowledge and industry experience to take knowledge of food and drink to the next level.

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