Time to get Great Taste entries ready!

Article written by Food NI CEO Michele Shirlow for Farm Week 12/01/2017

I’ve decided to use this week’s column to the forthcoming UK Great Taste Awards. I know you’ve read a great deal about this competition over the past year or so. We’ve certainly done very well in the prestigious awards over the past few years.

What I want to focus on in this column is the need for companies here to start planning their entries for the 2017 awards, which will be open for member companies of the UK Guild of Fine Food next week.
Entry for companies which aren’t guild members opens on 1st February. So, companies hoping to achieve recognition need to be start working on their entries as soon as practicable. And remember there is a 10,000 cap on entries which means the competition will close when this number is reached. The growing popularity of the Great Taste Awards means that the 10,000 entry cap could be reached fairly quickly.michele

Why bother to enter? The Great Taste Awards has been described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world and the ‘epicurean equivalent of the Booker prize’. Quite simply the Great Taste logo is the sign that shoppers can trust when buying food and drink in a local, quality retailer. It can also help companies win business with retailers including major supermarkets that now watch the awards for innovative products.

We had a great year last year, the highlight of which was Hannan Meats of Moira winning the Supreme Champion title for the second time, the first time the top award has been won twice by a company from the UK and Ireland. Dozens of other local companies also gained gold stars in the event for hundreds of products combining quality and outstanding taste.

Companies achieving three stars can win a listing in the Top 50 Foods, the most prestigious listing of the best of food and drink in the UK and Ireland.

The awards were good for the participating companies and also supported the drive here to showcase Northern Ireland as a global food and drink centre of excellence. Winning an award is important to producers, especially for micro and smaller businesses because it helps to set their products apart from the rest. It’s a real seal of approval. They allocate the gold stars – three for an exquisite product, two for outstanding and one simply delicious
Approval follows rigorous sampling by many of over 400 judges, including specially trained food writers, chefs and restaurateurs giving their verdict at upwards of judging days from March through to early July. Week-long judging sessions will once again be held in Belfast. We took the opportunity to showcase the culinary excellence here. Feedback from the participating judges was wholly positive about the skills and expertise of our cadre of superb chefs.

The judges, in addition, provide expert feedback which has helped companies in past competition to improve a product and strengthen its commercial appeal.

Entering the UK Great Taste Awards, therefore, can be good for a business in so many ways. This is why Food NI is keen to encourage and assist as many local companies as practicable to get involved in this most important competition. So, get cracking with the entry form.