Showcasing the best of Northern Ireland’s local produce!

The hospitality sector has a key role to play during the series of activities planned to celebrate our superb food and drink in 2016. Our first Year of Food and Drink will be an immensely exciting showcase of the very best of everything produced here by our companies, both big and small and including the burgeoning artisan sector.

Our approach will be to work closely with the hospitality sector to ensure that local food and drink continues to be highlighted on menus across Northern Ireland. This will have positive benefits for all.

By raising the profile of local products within the hospitality sector we hope to boost the economy and continue to enhance the reputation of food from Northern Ireland. Food and drink, it’s worth bearing in mind, contributes around £5 billion to the economy.

We believe that the initiative will also provide a massive boost for our developing tourism industry and assist Tourism Northern Ireland as it seeks to drive tourism earnings to over £1 billion by 2020.

Interestingly, a recent survey found that 54 per cent of people who visit Ireland do so for the pubs. The study, carried out for the ‘Support Your Local’ campaign, found that visiting Irish pubs was the second most cited reason for coming to Ireland, just behind ‘culture and heritage’, for which 57 per cent of respondents said was the main reason.

Marketing firm iReach conducted the study, with a sample of 500 tourists from the USA, Germany, Canada, France and the UK, who visited or had plans to visit Ireland soon.

As well as excellent food, Northern Ireland now has a rapidly developing cluster of local producers of award winning craft beers, cider and distilleries producing Irish whiskey, gin and, mostly recently, a small batch potato vodka.

We’ve seen major investment in new restaurants; hotels and bars over the past few years….and more projects are planned. Our chefs are now regularly picking up prestigious awards in competitions in Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

Year of Food and drink is a tremendously important initiative that will showcase our best, the superb restaurants, hotels and bars and also the skills of our hugely talented chefs. It will be an opportunity for all sectors of the industry to pull together for the benefit of the entire community.