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Awards to shine spotlight on excellence in the food heartland

Helping to launch the Food Heartland Awards were, from left, Northern Ireland chef and local food ambassador Paul Rankin, Sharon Machala from Food NI , and Roger Wilson, Chief Executive from Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council.

Helping to launch the Food Heartland Awards were, from left, Northern Ireland chef and local food ambassador Paul Rankin, Sharon Machala from Food NI , and Roger Wilson, Chief Executive from Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council.

Helping to launch the Food Heartland Awards were, from left, Northern Ireland chef and local food ambassador Paul Rankin, Sharon Machala from Food NI , and Roger Wilson, Chief Executive from Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council.

Awards which will champion and celebrate innovation and excellence of the food and drinks sector in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough have been launched.  The area has established itself as the Food Heartland of Northern Ireland because of the sheer volume of food production and the outstanding quality of products. The first Food Heartland Awards, led by Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, which will be held on 25th May at Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre, will showcase the best local produce and the people behind the thriving agri-food sector as well as highlight the sector’s potential for growth and positive impact on the local economy.

The Food Heartland Awards will be a key highlight of a yearlong calendar of initiatives by the council to champion the local agri-food sector as part of a wider initiative – the Food Heartland and NI Year of Food & Drink 2016.  The council has established a Food Heartland Forum, launched in April 2015, which aims to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the agri-food industry, throughout the borough, as well as to enhance the tourism experience and expand local agri-food exports.

There are 12 individual awards categories* which reflects the passion, innovation and excellence of the local industry.  The awards include Best New Start Up, Best Export Business, Best Licensed Eating Establishment and Best Independent Retail Food Business – to name but a few. Entry is FREE with all details available at www.foodheartland.com.  Deadline for entries is 5pm Friday 15th April.

Announcing the Awards Alderman Twyble, said:
“I am delighted to announce the first Food Heartland Awards.  The Awards will not only recognise the hard-work and dedication of local food companies but shine a spotlight on the abundance of top quality produce and producers that exists within our borough.  The Northern Ireland Year of Food & Drink 2016 provides us with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and showcase our wonderful products and businesses on a global scale as well as encourage innovation and growth which will only serve to have a positive impact on our local economy. I would encourage anyone involved in this sector to consider entering the awards and make 2016 the year to shine a spotlight on their business.”

Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council commented:
“Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s number one priority is to grow the local economy and the agri-food sector is a priority growth area.  This was very much demonstrated at the start of the year when we launched the Food Heartland brand in Carn Industrial Estate, Craigavon, to champion the quality and volume of food production in the borough.  Against the backdrop of the Northern Ireland Year of Food 2016 this provides us with the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight as well as celebrate our local produce and people behind this thriving sector.  The Food Heartland Awards is a fantastic opportunity for this sector to showcase their excellence and innovation to Northern Ireland and beyond.  I would like to take this opportunity to wish all entrants good luck and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the gala evening on 25th May.”

The Food Heartland Awards are now open for entry.    The Awards gala evening will be hosted at Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre on Wednesday 25th May.  Tickets priced at £50 plus VAT.  For further details visit www.foodheartland.com or e-mail foodheartland@ndevents.com.  Follow Food Heartland Awards on Facebook Food Heartland and twitter@FoodHeartlandNI  #FHLAwards16.

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