Top Northern Irish food award for Mash Direct

Mash Direct, a specialist in the development, manufacture and marketing of convenience meals and vegetable side dishes, won the Food Innovation Award at a gala event to celebrate Northern Ireland’s first-ever Year of Food and Drink.

The company, which is based on a family farm at Comber in county Down and is a Food NI member, lifted the innovation award for its Crispy Vegetable Bakes at the prestigious event organised by the Belfast Telegraph newspaper in association with Tourism NI, Food NI and Invest Northern Ireland. The innovation award was sponsored by Food NI.

The awards were held for the first time to celebrate the success of the year-long initiative last year to showcase the quality, innovation and flavours of Northern Ireland food and drink and to promote the region as an ideal tourism destination.

Tourism NI chairman Terence Brannigan said Year of Food and Drink had “surpassed all expectations”. The success of the initiative had placed food and drink at the core of Tourism NI’s efforts to promote Northern Ireland as the perfect destination for international visitors.

The Northern Ireland award for Mash Direct’s Crispy Vegetable Bakes follows the Gold Award for Innovation last year at the international SIAL Middle East food exhibition in Abu Dhabi. The Northern Ireland company also won the coveted Food Manufacture Excellence Award last year.

Mash Direct, established by husband and wife team Martin and Tracy Hamilton in 2004, is now among Northern Ireland’s most successful, innovative food and widely respected businesses. It has an impressive track record in new product development and supplies most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and Ireland. In addition, the company has significant export business in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Tracy Hamilton, Mash Direct commercial director, commenting on the Northern Ireland innovation award, says: “We are delighted to have achieved this recognition from the food and drink and tourism industries in Northern Ireland. It reflects the longstanding commitment of the business to innovation in products, processes and people.”

The company is the market leader in the production of a highly innovative and rapidly developing portfolio of delicious quick-serve potato, vegetable and cabbage products.

An emphasis on provenance and traceability means that the family farm produces the majority of the raw materials with the rest being meticulously sourced throughout the UK and Ireland to produce a range free from artificial additives, preservatives or colourings.

Mash Direct has also won recognition in other major competitions such as the UK Great Taste Awards and the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards.

Highly commended in the innovation category were Smoked Eel from

The innovation category was among nine awards for a range of initiatives including food tours. Highly commended in this category were: Smoked Lough Neagh Eel and Spar’s The Kitchen Range of Convenience Foods.

The other awards were:

  • Best Food Story – Food Heartland Forum, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council (Sponsored by Invest NI)
  • Best NI Food Event or Festival – LegenDerry Food Festival (Sponsored by Dept for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs)
  • Belfast NI Local Market – Combers’ Farmers’ Market (Sponsored by Belfast Telegraph)
  • Growing for the Future – Foodovation, Derry (Sponsored by Spar NI)
  • Roots to Market – Food Heartland Initiative, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council (sponsored by Sodexo)
  • Best NI Tours and Trails – Sperrin Cycle Far and Wild (Sponsored by Tourism NI)
  • Best Marketing Initiative – Eat Eel – Lough Neagh Partnership (Sponsored by Moy Park and Food NI
  • Destination Delicious – Derry-Londonderry and North West