It's all in Great Taste as top Northern Ireland food companies receive awards
Co Down butcher Hannan Meats has been awarded four three-star accolades in the Great Taste Awards.
The awards, which are considered to be among the most-coveted in the food industry, bring the meat producer's Great Taste star count to 27.
Presented by the Guild of Fine Food to leading food producers throughout the UK and Ireland, The Great Taste Awards 2018 received almost 13,000 entries, out of which 4,653 star ratings were awarded. And 210 of those are based in Northern Ireland.
A three-star rating is the highest award a product can receive from the guild and accounts for around 3% of the star ratings.
And Hannan Meats in Moira has taken four of the highly-regarded awards for its mix, rib, brisket and chuck burger (seasoned), three-mix burger (unseasoned), salt aged lamb striploin and lamb bacon.
Peter Hannan, founder of Hannan Meats, said: "It's a huge achievement and we are absolutely thrilled. To elevate something as humble as a burger to a three-star Great Taste Award is very gratifying and we are particularly pleased."
Mr Hannan said the star allocation is a boost for business: "Every food buyer in the world waits for the Good Taste Awards to come out, because it makes their job easier. It makes a huge difference to our business. When we won the award of Supreme Champion in 2016 the world just comes to your door. These awards have huge integrity and transparency as well as a huge following and it does deliver."
Thompson's Tea in Belfast received 20 stars in total including two three-star awards, bringing its star count to more than 100.
Joint managing director Ross Thompson said: "It is very encouraging that our commitment to better quality has been recognised by the judges."
Mauds Ice Cream received a three-star award for its salted almond ice-cream and in Co Down, Cookie Jar's traditional wheaten bannock and Pure Roast Coffee Ltd's Ethiopian Duromina coffee each attracted three-star ratings.
Martin Symington, founder and managing director of Pure Roast Coffee, said the three-star award will be "enormously beneficial" as it seeks to grow sales abroad.
In Londonderry, William Grant and Company Ltd said it was "delighted" with its three-star win for its sugar pit bacon rack and in Armagh, Burren Balsamics Ltd won a three-star for its saddle of Colebrooke venison.
Michele Shirlow, Food NI chief executive, said: "It's immensely encouraging to see our companies winning so many gold stars.
"It highlights the skills, expertise and enterprise of local processors, especially the smaller companies, which are the backbone of the local food and drink industry."