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Food and Drink Innovation Celebrated at NIFDA Awards

Food and Drink Innovation Celebrated at NIFDA Awards

23rd March 2015

Innovation and excellence were on the menu at the NI Food and Drink Awards 2015, sponsored by Ulster Bank, as leading food and drink companies were recognised at a prestigious ceremony held in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, Belfast.

The NIFDA awards offer a platform to showcase and reward those involved in Northern Ireland’s world-class food and drink sector. Major retailers, industry leaders and government officials were among those who attended the event, which is held biannually.

The Ulster Bank Best New Product Awards (Small, Medium and Large Company) were picked up by Punjana Tea’s Thompson Family Signature Tea, Mash Direct’s Vegetable Burger with Spring Cabbage, and Linden Foods for its Pork Saltimboca. Punjana also received Food NI’s People’s Choice Award for its Original Brand tea.  Other winners included Yummy Bakes NI in the Invest NI Service Sector Award, Dunbia in the DARD Supply Chain Excellence Award and Food NI for the NI Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show 2014. 

Individuals recognised at the awards included BBC Radio Ulster journalist Richard Wright for his outstanding contribution to the local food and drink sector, Greg Quinn of Moy Park for training excellence, and Mash Direct’s Jack Hamilton, who was awarded the DEL Future Leaders Award.

NIFDA Executive Director Michael Bell said:

“We would like to wholeheartedly congratulate all the companies and individuals who have been recognised at this year’s NIFDA Awards, and to thank all our sponsors and supporters.  As always the calibre of entries was outstanding, highlighting the wealth of talent across the sector. It is evident that continuous innovation, good marketing and great tasting products are fundamental in setting our local offering apart on a global stage.   Year after year we continue to win more Great Taste Awards than any other region in the UK pro-rata – clocking up a total of 264 last year, and year on year the economic value of the sector continues to grow.  With plans for a new food and drink marketing body for Northern Ireland underway, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in our flourishing food and drink sector.”

 Kenton Hilman, Head of Corporate & Institutional Banking NI at Ulster Bank said:

“The depth and breadth of experience displayed at the NIFDA Awards shows how successful Northern Ireland food and drink companies truly are. They make a consistent and significant positive impact on economic growth, and range from innovative small firms to major international exporters. Their ingenuity and talent generates significant returns and deserves to be celebrated.

“Ulster Bank is proud to support the sector, through these awards and through our own sector specific offerings for food and drink companies, which can help to develop and support future winners.”

Full list of Award Winners:

Food NI People’s Choice Award: Punjana, Original Brand 

DEL Future Leaders Award: Jack Hamilton, Mash Direct

Training Excellence Award, sponsored by Food Greg Quinn, Moy Park & Drink Sector Skills:

Best Event/Initiative for Promoting Quality Local Food NI, NI Food Pavilion at Balmoral Show Food and Drink, sponsored by DARD: 2014 

Supply Chain Excellence Award, sponsored by the Dunbia Hereford Scheme supplying the Co-Agri Food Strategy Board: Operative Food Group

Invest NI Service Sector Award: Yummy Bakes NI, Lemon & Coconut Yummy Cake (with Lemon Butter Icing)

Ulster Bank Best New Product, Small Company: Thompson Family Signature Tea, Punjana Tea

Ulster Bank Best New Product, Medium Company: Mash Direct Vegetable Burger with Spring Cabbage

Ulster Bank Best New Product, Large Company: Linden Foods, Pork Saltimbocca 

Ulster Bank Outstanding Contribution to NI Food Richard Wright, BBC Radio Ulster, Farmgate and Drink Industry:  


For further information please contact Michelle Black/Nicola Adamson at Morrow Communications by email / or tel: 02890 393837/07738 522900

Notes to Editors:

• This is the 13th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards. The event was held at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Friday 20th March.

• Ulster Bank is the main sponsor of the awards. Prestige sponsors include Asda, Lidl, M&S and Tesco.