Belfast Telegraph

Minister urges agri-food firms to take bigger bite of £18bn export market

By David Elliott

Northern Ireland's agri-food industry can take a larger bite out of the £18bn a year of food and drink which is imported by England, Scotland and Wales, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has said.

She said retailers in Great Britain and beyond, hold Northern Ireland produce in high regard and that there is huge potential to grow the sector further.

"I would encourage you to take advantage of all that Invest NI has to offer in assistance and practical support measures to help you explore sales opportunities abroad. This includes Great Britain which offers huge opportunities as an importer of around £18bn a year in food and drink."

She was speaking at Celebration of Success, an Invest NI-organised event in the Europa Hotel in Belfast where more than 40 companies which had been successful at the Great Taste Awards and at the Irish Food Awards were present. Northern Ireland firms picked up a total of 196 gold star awards at the UK-wide Great Taste Awards with Hannan Meats of Moira walking away with the Supreme Champion title and the Northern Ireland Golden Fork in the Great Taste Awards, organised annually by the UK Guild of Fine Food.

Enterprise Minister Foster said the competitions help showcase the industry to a wider market outside these shores.

"The awards reinforce my conviction that Northern Ireland ranks among the best in the world for premium and original food and drink," she said.