Balmoral Show: Get your Ulster fry faster with microwaveable bacon
Ulster fry lovers can now get their hands on breakfast even quicker thanks to microwaveable bacon made by one of Northern Ireland's biggest brands.
Meat producers Cookstown, known for its sausages, said the new initiative was going well, and spokesman Alastair McQuillan joked his son's only complaint was that his bacon was ready quicker than his bagels in the mornings.
Karro, the parent company of Cookstown, beat around 240 local companies to scoop the title of Supplier of the Year at the Henderson's Wholesale Supplier of the Year Awards at the Balmoral Show yesterday.
The judging panel, including Professor Chris Elliott from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University, Freda Magill from the Ulster Farmers' Union, UTV business editor Jamie Delargy and the agricultural journalist Richard Wright, singled Karro out for its range of products and recent growth.
They were impressed by the firm's efforts to ensure Henderson's Warehouse receives only the freshest of products, therefore helping to avoid wastage, as well as its investment in innovative technology to audit products, ensure quality and capture orders.
Some of the other big winners included Killinchy-based vegetable processors Willowbrook Foods, which won the Enjoy Local Supplier of the Year gong and was runner-up in the Overall Supplier of the Year category.
Among Willowbrook's range of products are salad bags, salad bowls, prepared vegetables, stir-frys and sandwich fillers.
Co Armagh bakery Irwin's also did well, scooping the Tomorrow Matters award and being highly commended in the Best Direct to Store Supplier and Brand Innovation categories.
Belfast-based Allied Bakeries was named Best Direct to Store Supplier, and Comber company Mash Direct won the Brand Innovation Award.
Neal Kelly, Henderson's fresh food director, said the awards were about recognising excellence among suppliers.
"We work with around 240 local suppliers and are fortunate to have developed excellent relationships with them to ensure that we bring the very best fresh food to our customers at our stores across Northern Ireland each day," he added.
"We were keen to award those providing the very highest gold-standard service and were delighted to receive so many entries across all five categories, which were then reviewed by our expert independent judges.
"Sourcing the finest fresh, local, traceable food is really important to us, and we are proud that over 75% of our total range of fresh products is produced and sourced locally. Sourcing locally means that we continue to support our local suppliers, and that's great news for our economy too."