More than 2,100 companies across Europe entered their foods and drinks in the 2013 Great Taste Awards, which seeks out the very best foods for sale in the UK.
When the results were announced recently, more than 15 Irish companies discovered they have reached the highest standards and were awarded three-stars.
More than 50 Irish food firms were awarded one and two gold stars.
The marketing boost each of the successful companies (which are mostly small firms) get from this could be the impetus to start off the next big Irish food company — and they certainly deserve the praise bestowed on them by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Bord Bia, for enhancing Ireland’s reputation for food.
Only 125 producers were awarded three stars, which makes Ireland’s achievement first class.
A further 645 products were awarded two stars, and 2,524 got the one-star rating.
Doing well in the competition differentiates products from the norm and guarantees the consumer a reliable seal of approval.
This is because of the blind tasting that ensures flavour, texture, and taste are the only criteria for the judging panels, totalling 405 fine food retailers, chefs, restaurant critics, food writers, and other industry experts.
They spent more than 50 days judging this summer, including a week in Ireland.
The judging came to Ireland for the first time this year, because entrants from Ireland north or south had the Supreme Champion winner product three times since 2006.
Before a star is awarded, up to 20 experts taste, discuss and agree. Before any food is refused a star, nine experts must agree it has faults. For two or three stars, up to 25 judges must unanimously agree an entry has achieved perfection. Even for those products not awarded a star, entrants receive valuable feedback, helping them improve and refine their foods.
Great Taste winning products are not run-of-the-mill processed foods, they are more likely to be found on the shelves of the world’s best food halls — like Harrods, Selfridges, and Fortnum & Mason, and top delicatessens and farm shops — as well as in your local supermarket.
This week, the British press is full of articles on local products doing well.
In the run-up to naming the 2013 Supreme Champion in London in September, more than 30m consumers will read about gold-star winning foods and drinks, and tens of thousands will taste them at food exhibitions throughout the UK. Throughout the year, newspapers, magazines, radio and television are provided with a constant stream of award-winning foods to taste, evaluate, and discuss.
Well done to the Irish companies who enter, playing their part in adding to the quality image of Irish food in one of our most important export markets.