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NI companies cream of the crop at Dublin food and drink awards

By Rachel Martin

Food producers from Northern Ireland stole the show at the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards in Dublin.

Companies including Co Down dairy firm Clandeboye Estate, led by Lady Dufferin, and White's Oats from Co Armagh saw off competition from more than 1,000 entries to collect more than 30 awards.

Among the big winners was cider manufacturer Tempted? Strawberry Cider, which led the category and beat Bulmers.

Also highly commended in the section was Dundrum producer Kilmegan Cider and Portadown company Mac Ivors.

Orchard County produce also did well in the fruit section. Portadown growers and cider makers P McCann and Sons was recognised for its Irish apple tray supplied to Dunnes Stores.

Tandragee firm White's Speedicook, meanwhile, cleaned up in the cereals section, winning all three porridge awards.

Clandeboye Estate was praised for its products despite this being the first year it had entered the awards. Among its accolades was a highly commended ribbon in the Tesco Small Producer of the Year category and a winner's medal in the yoghurt category.

General manager Bryan Boggs said: "We are at a stage where we would like to do a bit more in the South. We are keen to get our name recognised and believe that the Food Quality Awards was the best place to prove the quality of our product."

The firm, which employs 19 people at its factory and farm, already supplies Topaz and Dublin Airport, but it has set its sights on getting its yoghurt into Irish supermarkets in the next year.

In the same section, Dale Farm Dairies, which last year bought the brands associated with Fivemiletown Creamery, was highly commended for its Lidl Rathdaragh Irish Extra Mature Cheddar and Irish Vintage Cheddar.

Similarly, Town of Monaghan Co-Op, which merged with Coleraine creamery Ballyrashane, received praise for its Dairy Manor Irish Creamery Salted Butter.

Killinchy company Willowbrook Foods, meanwhile, kept the competition at bay in the prepared salads section, stealing both the top spot and the highly commended award. The company recently invested £2.3m in new facilities in Killinchy.

Smaller start-ups were also celebrated at the event, including Portavogie firm Pizzado and Lisburn-based start-up CocoMojo.

The drinks firm launched its healthy energy drinks in July 2014 and was hailed for the quality of both its products. It uses more than 20 botanical herbs and coconut milk and water for its anchor product CocoSoul.

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