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Experts salute the outstanding quality and flavours of our superb food and drink

Downpatrick’s Finnebrogue Artisan last week followed the trail blazed by Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt in the UK Quality Food Awards by lifting the prestigious Product of the Year title in the all-Ireland Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards.

Clandeboye Estate, as we reported last week, gained the top UK award and also as the country’s Best Yoghurt for its creamy and delicious Madagascan Vanilla Greek Style Yoghurt, an exceptional food that’s widely available in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It was the first time that the award was achieved by a Northern Ireland food producer.

Clandeboye’s general manager Bryan Boggs admitted to being “lost for words” on hearing of the success. He was quick to credit his talented team for the remarkable achievement and added that they all hoped the endorsement by export food judges would help the company grow its sales in Britain.

The UK Quality Food Awards recognise and reward original products which are leading the way in the market.

The value of the awards is reinforced by research showing that winning a product attracts the attention of supermarket buyers and customers, showing, in particular, that 74 per cent of consumers would trust the quality of a food product carrying the quality logo.

Winning an award is a powerful endorsement of an individual product. The awards are the most important in UK grocery retailing, especially supermarkets.

A week later, a panel of judges in the Irish equivalent of the awards in Dublin, the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, awarded plant food specialist Finnebrogue Artisan the top award for its Naked brand Smoked Streaky Bacon, a product made without allergens, nitrites and preservatives. The product also achieved gold in the bacon category in the coveted awards. Again another first for Northern Ireland.

Finnebrogue described the awards as “a terrific endorsement of the quality and taste of our unique smoked bacon”.

In addition to its market leading Naked range, Finnebrogue has pioneered the development of plant-based foods and now operates one of the biggest and most sophisticated plants for these products in Europe.

As well as winning the coveted Product of the Year at the event, Northern Ireland companies gained a series of major awards across many food and drink categories in what was another excellent year for local food and drink producers, both large and small and including several artisan enterprises.

The Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards, held annually, recognise and celebrate the best in retail, wholesale and foodservice food and drink products available on the island of Ireland.

Other Northern Ireland successes in the UK Quality Awards 2021, Avondale Foods, Lurgan, County Armagh, was a winner for its salads and coleslaw; Dunbia, Dungannon, County Tyrone, for its Unflavoured Beef Steaks Lidl Birchwood Steakhouse Selection; Finnebrogue Artisan for its vegan, plant based meat and fish substitutes and sausages for retailers such as Asda; Mash Direct of Comber commended for curry chips; and UMI Foods, Armagh, for stuffed mushrooms.

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