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Northern Ireland’s Food Heartland Excellence Awards 2018 is open for entries

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Power NI's Patricia Stewart joins Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Julie Flaherty and awards compere Barra Best at the launch of the awards.

Northern Ireland’s Food Heartland Awards 2018, in association with Power NI, has officially opened for entries. The awards champion and celebrate passion, quality, innovation and success across the thriving food, drink and hospitality sector throughout the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon borough. From specialist artisan producers to household brands and global names, from Great Taste and Irish Food Award winners to outstanding restaurants and eateries, the borough is home to an abundance of high quality food, drink and hospitality as well as world renowned products with EU protected status – Armagh Bramley Apples and Lough Neagh Eels. Past award winners include Burren Balsamics, Armagh Cider Company, Moy Park, Irwin’s Bakery, Harnett’s Oils, Yellow Door Deli and Long Meadow Cider. The awards, delivered by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, span the breadth of the industry and are free to enter for businesses, organisations and individuals from across the area by Friday 6th July. The awards provide businesses and individuals with a unique opportunity for increased sales, new trade connections and greater recognition of their brands, products and innovation.

Showcasing the best local produce and the people behind a thriving and diverse agri-food sector, as well as highlighting the sector’s potential for growth and positive impact on the local economy, the official awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday 12th September in the grounds of The Palace Demesne, Armagh.

The awards will be presented by local television personality Barra Best. Officially launching the Food Heartland Awards for 2018, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Lord Mayor, Councillor Julie Flaherty, said: "Our borough has a firmly-established reputation for excellence, passion and innovation across the food, drink and hospitality industry. "These exciting awards not only recognise the hard-work and dedication of local food companies but shine a spotlight on the abundance of top quality produce and producers that exists. "The economy is the number one priority for Council and these awards provide us with a fantastic opportunity to celebrate and showcase our success on a global scale as well as encouraging further innovation and growth which will only serve to have a positive impact locally. "I would encourage anyone involved in this sector to consider entering the awards and make 2018 the year to shine a spotlight on their business." The Council’s Food Heartland Forum, which was launched in April 2015, continues to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the agri-food industry throughout the borough, as well enhancing the tourism experience and expanding local agri-food exports.

Roger Wilson, Chief Executive of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, said: "Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s number one priority is to grow the local economy and our pioneering and dynamic agri-food sector is a key growth area. The Food Heartland Awards represent an outstanding opportunity to showcase its excellence to Northern Ireland and beyond. "I wish all our entrants good luck and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the gala evening on 12th September." A total of 12 category awards are up for grabs, including Best New Start Up, Best Export Business, Best Licensed and Non-Licensed Eating Establishments and Best Independent Retail Food Business. The Food Heartland Awards 2018 are sponsored by Power NI.

Patricia Stewart, Commercial Sales Executive from Power NI said: "On behalf of Power NI we are delighted to be the associate sponsor for the Food Heartland Awards 2018. This is a fantastic initiative which has a huge connection with many of our customers in the agri-food sector in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon region. "These awards are a great opportunity for us to show our support to this vibrant and innovative sector. We look forward to celebrating all of the achievements at the gala awards dinner."

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