14/03/2008

Ulster's Best For London St Pat's Day Food Fest

Food companies from Northern Ireland will be helping Londoners and tourists celebrate St Patrick's Day this year at two major promotions in the city.

Invest Northern Ireland is taking the 'Good Food is in Our Nature' message to London and helping local companies sell their products at the two-day Irish Speciality Food Show in Covent Garden; and in the recently opened Waitrose food hall, located in the upmarket John Lewis flagship store on Oxford Street.

On sale at the colourful open-air market in Covent Garden, which is being held on 15 and 16 March, will be a very broad range of quality food from eight Northern Ireland companies. Products will include soda and other traditional breads, cheeses, oysters, toasted and porridge oats, chutneys and tea.

The objective of the Covent Garden event is to create a traditional Irish farmers' market using food from suppliers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The eight Northern Ireland companies will be among 50 at the show in Covent Garden, organised by Bord Bia, the Republic of Ireland's food promotion agency.

Invest NI has a longstanding relationship with Bord Bia and has supported the Covent Garden event since its launch in 2002.

The food show, a key event in the city’s extensive programme of events for St Patrick's Day, is expected to attract around 100,000 shoppers over the two days and will be one of the most important public promotions of food from the island of Ireland in London during 2008.

Then on the Big Day, 17 March, shoppers at John Lewis will be able to sample oatcakes from Ditty's bakery in Castledawson and breads, including the unique Guinness Bread, from Irwin's in Portadown.

Ditty’s and Irwin's are among a group of companies, which are already listed by Waitrose, selected by the retailer to take part in the first St Patrick’s Day promotion at the John Lewis foodhall.

The 17,000 sq ft department opened just before Christmas and focuses on premium quality foods.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI's Trade Director, commenting on the promotions, said: "The St Patrick's Day celebrations in London offer a marvellous opportunity to showcase the variety and quality of food that’s now produced by both large and small companies in Northern Ireland.

"The Covent Garden show has proven to be immensely successful for many smaller companies and a number found they were virtually sold out of products by the end of the first day. It’s a very colourful and fun occasion with a serious purpose – to raise awareness of Northern Ireland food to shoppers and tourists in London.

"Both events are part of the biggest-ever programme of marketing activities for local food producers being organised by Invest NI as part of our support for the 'Good Food is in Our Nature' campaign to assist the growth of one of our most important industries."

(BMcC)

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