NI cider rivals share top all-island award
Two of the biggest names in Northern Ireland cider shared the award for best artisan product at an all-Ireland food competition on Saturday night.
Cider companies Tempted? from Lisburn and Craigavon's Mac Ivors shared the gong at Blas na hEireann, the Irish food awards. It was the first time in the competition's nine years it has been shared, and the only time it has been awarded to a Northern Ireland company.
The blind-tested awards are the biggest competition for quality food products on the island of Ireland.
More than 2,500 products entered this year's awards, which were held in Dingle, Co Kerry.
Northern Ireland companies came away with more than 40 awards - 17 of them gold awards.
Michele Shirlow, Food NI chief executive, said the results were "another marvellous endorsement" of the quality of the region's food and drink.
Tempted? and Mac Ivors, which is made by the Mac Neice family, also shared the Best New Product Award as well as the award for Best in Ulster. The region's reputation for cider was further bolstered with a gold award for Armagh Cider Company's Doyle's Summer Fruit and a silver award for Loughgall's Long Meadow.
But cider wasn't the only category in which Northern Ireland firms prospered. Producers from all parts of the province were honoured in a dizzying range of categories. Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt from Co Down joined Fermanagh's Cavanagh Eggs in winning gold.
Other gold winners including McErlain's Bakery, Western Brand Poultry and White's Oats.