Retailer kicks off year-long celebration of local food and drink
Tesco Northern Ireland today announced a jam packed programme to the value of half a million pounds, providing a platform for the local food and drinks industry to engage with the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 initiative led by NI Food and TourismNI.
The year-long programme, which includes established local suppliers and artisan producers will include in-store food fairs, multi-store sampling, radio and press advertising, PR and media support as well as the highly anticipated annual Taste Northern Ireland Festival, set to be the biggest and best yet.
Today’s launch event brought together the great and good of local food and drink at Tesco Northern Ireland’s flagship Extra store at Knocknagoney, and was officiated by Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Permanent Secretary, Noel Lavery, on behalf of the Minister.
Noel Lavery said: “Year of Food &Drink 2016 is an opportunity to celebrate our food and drink successes and capitalise on these through trade and consumer communications. It is also an opportunity to harness the benefits of these successes to drive quality, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in our food and drink sector. The north of Ireland will gain greater benefits via increased visitor satisfaction and spend, as well as increased demand for export sales. The strength of the north’s food producers and the stories behind them will continue to be the foundations of this success.
“I welcome Tesco’s commitment to the local agri-food sector which has seen an increase in annual investment from £50m in 1997 to £550m in 2015. Major investments in locally-sourced produce demonstrate the potential to build long-term sustainable supply chains on this island.
“The Year of Food and Drink 2016 is an opportunity to provide a platform for sharing the supply chain story from primary producer through to consumer and to show the strength of our agri-food industry as a whole.
“I commend Tesco in fully embracing the opportunities that the Year of Food & Drink 2016 will provide and am pleased to launch their year long programme of activities that will provide a key engagement platform for our local food and drinks industry.’’
The event saw Tesco customers able to sample an array of products from local iconic brands such as Punjana and Irwins, provided networking opportunities and discussions facilitated between producers and industry bodies, a parade of local food company mascots, as well as a surprise performance by the Belfast Community Gospel Choir.
Brendan Guidera, Store Director for Tesco Northern Ireland, said: “The Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink is a celebration of everything that is delicious here and what’s more it pays homage to our local food and drinks businesses – an industry that is truly bolstering the Northern Irish economy and one that is gaining more support than ever before from customers keen to support local businesses.
“We know from research and ongoing feedback that our customers are choosing local produce where and when they can and know that at Tesco, they can not only buy more local products than anywhere else in Northern Ireland, but can also be confident in the knowledge that we truly support and encourage food and drink businesses to succeed. As the number one champion of local products, we wanted to be sure we got behind this fantastic initiative for the Province and planned a programme worthy of the quality of produce on offer, the hard work and commitment of our suppliers and the needs of our customers.”
Michele Shirlow, CEO of Food NI, said: “It’s great to see so many of Food and Drink’s leading industry figures in one spot, to launch what is set to be a stellar year for Northern Ireland. The initiative is designed to celebrate our quality produce, the businesses behind the success stories and the platform being provided by Tesco Northern Ireland does exactly that, and more by facilitating maximum engagement between the suppliers, consumers and industry bodies. The programme Tesco has put in place is testament to the retailer’s ongoing and unparalleled support for NI Food and Drink businesses and will give the initiative the boost it needs.”