Belfast Telegraph

World of food and farming to find at Balmoral Show

From left: launching the 2019 Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank are Cormac McKervey, Rhonda Geary, operations director at RUAS, Alan Crowe, RUAS CEO, and Nigel Walsh, corporate and commercial banking director at Ulster Bank
From left: launching the 2019 Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank are Cormac McKervey, Rhonda Geary, operations director at RUAS, Alan Crowe, RUAS CEO, and Nigel Walsh, corporate and commercial banking director at Ulster Bank

By Cormac McKervey

Sometimes, it seems like the last 12 months have been all about Northern Ireland as a place that's being discovered for the first time.

People and politicians are finding out more about the impact that we have on the rest of the UK than they ever have before - whether that's Brexit and borders, right through to bank notes and backstops. But it has also had a more positive dimension, as tourists have flocked to see locations from award-winning TV shows, stay in our hotels or, tellingly, to pay real attention to the provenance and quality of the food that we produce.

The Balmoral Show, where farmers and processors will be exhibiting this year, is a microcosm of this trend.

With a big focus on agriculture, the show actually covers all aspects of farm to fork eating and is as much about fun and family as it is about farming.

It's this mix that makes a successful and enjoyable event, where hundreds of brands and businesses offer a diverse range of food products and display their samples - putting their money where people's mouths are.

And just as word-of-mouth discussion and reputation forms an important part of determining tastes and trends of the food-buying public, so too it's vital to oiling the wheels of business in our agricultural community.

Balmoral is a great chance for farmers and processors to get together and discuss the prospects for the sector, and put in some planning time to adapt to changes coming down the line.

Because innovation, and the ability to respond effectively and resiliently to change, is one of the great strengths of the agri community.

And in our time as principal sponsor, that's something we've really taken on board.

So, in acknowledgement of that, we'll be doing some innovating of our own.

One of the new elements that we'll be introducing this year's show is a food trail, a new initiative to showcase some outstanding producers - with a prize available to those who manage to visit all of the great producers that are taking part.

It's a step to show the strength in depth of our agri-businesses and also make it easier for people to take a further look at what's on offer from businesses close to home.

The Balmoral Show is an prime opportunity for people to see for themselves the excellent people and businesses that make Northern Ireland's food, drink and agriculture sectors best-in-class.

I'm looking forward to meeting and speaking with many established and up-and-coming businesses - and doing some discovery of my own.

Cormac McKervey is senior agriculture manager at Ulster Bank

Belfast Telegraph

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