About 30 smaller food and drink producers were featured at the latest Taste Causeway initiative to support the dynamic and growing artisan industry in the Causeway Coast and Glens, one of Northern Ireland’s most successful tourism areas.
It’s a region that has also become an innovation-led hub for quality food and drink.
The showcase in Portstewart was developed by Taste Causeway, which is justifiably acclaimed for its activities in representing the “world-renowned food and drink, cultivated by passionate people, in the stunning landscape of the Causeway Coast and Glens”.
An amazing variety of local food and drink there now supports the retail and hospitality sectors across Northern Ireland and many producers are also finding success in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland and even further afield.
For instance, Broigther Gold Rapeseed Oil recently secured business with Jones the Grocer in Dubai for three of its oils.
Giant’s Rock Basalt Gin in Bushmills also recently secured sales to France. Corndale Farm Charcuterie in Limavady supplies its products to Britain and the Republic.
Irish Black Butter from Portrush is selling its spreads to Britain and the US. Morelli’s Ice Cream in Coleraine also sells its ice cream and sorbets in Britain and the Republic.
The region, of course, is home to Old Bushmills Irish Whiskey, now among the biggest global exporters of the gold spirit and Northern Ireland biggest global brand.
Taste Causeway’s Sharon Scott, commenting on the inaugural showcase, says: “It was a tremendous event which enabled us to demonstrate to a host of important trade buyers the range of innovation in food and drink here and its outstanding tastes.
“We have many producers which have won acclaim in national and international awards such as UK Great Taste and Blas na hEireann.
“We were delighted by the number of companies participating and the marvellous support we received from influential trade buyers from Causeway Coast and Glens and further afield. The energy at the event was very positive,” adds Sharon.
Taste Causeway supported the event with a special catalogue about participants and plans to develop a digital buyers’ guide in addition to its extensive ongoing online initiatives for the industry
“The guide will be updated seasonally, or as new products are launched. We also hope to have another exhibition next year, even bigger than this year as we have lots more producers to showcase,” said Sharon
Taste Causeway has led in a series important initiatives, including winning accreditation for the region in the global slow food movement.
Cookery demonstrations by celebrity chef Paula McIntyre, who lives in the area, were provided at the event and all recipes featured local food and drink.
The organisation also supported Paula’s new cookbook “Recipes and Stories”, a colourful and entertaining celebration of local food and drink from the Causeway Coast and Glens.
Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil founder and managing director Leona Kane, from Broglasco farm at Limavady, one of the driving forces involved in Taste Causeway, says: “We worked extremely hard to ensure the success of the showcase.
“It was clearly well received by the participating companies and buyers.
“What it did was to build on the knowledge of local food and drink among buyers and encourage them to consider listing many more products in their stores and their restaurants.
“It’s important to help them keep up to date with developments in the local industry.”
Another enthusiastic supporter of the showcase was Alastair Bell, the founder and managing director of Irish Black Butter in Portrush. He took part in the event before exhibiting at Scottish Country Living in Glasgow.
“The Taste Causeway event was extremely well-organised, enabling me to renew my existing contacts and develop new ones about retailers and chefs.
“I’d love to see other areas in Northern Ireland follow this significant initiative by Taste Causeway.
“I wish there had been showcases like this available when I started my artisan business in 2017,” Alastair says.
And Geri Martin, of the multi-award winning Manor Chocolates in Castlerock, also agrees on the importance of the Taste Causeway showcase.
“As well as being able to show my hand crafted chocolates to key retail and hospitality buyers, it was great to catch up with other artisan buyers for a bit of craic,” she adds.
“It’s always good to meet new artisan businesses and to sample their products from time to time.
“This helps to build camaraderie and provides a platform for knowledge exchange from established enterprises like mine to newcomers in our important local industry.”
The event also includes many of the stalwarts of food markets promoted by Taste Causeway in towns such as Coleraine, Ballycastle and Limavady.
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