A Tipperary food producer has taken the top prize in this year’s Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards while Dunnes Stores was named the top retailer of 2016.
Irish food and drink producers were honoured at the fourth awards during a ceremony hosted by Ballymaloe chef and cookery writer Rachel Allen at the Mansion House in Dublin last night.
Taking the top prize of the Gold Q was Clonmel’s James Whelan Butchers with its Dry Aged Angus Striploin Steak.
“Winning the Gold Q award was fantastic recognition,” said Pat Whelan, chief executive of James Whelan Butchers.
“Not only for our business and our products but most of all for our wonderful team of dedicated professionals who work so hard every day sharing great Irish food with our loyal customers.”
The judges said of the winning product: “The steak looks good, it is juicy and succulent, the flavour is unreal, and its strong yellow colour indicates that it is well matured. This is an excellent steak.”
Dunnes Stores was named retailer of the year, including winning gold in the Value Q category for Dunnes Stores My Family Favourites Mature White Cheddar, produced by Bandon Vale.
“The Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards have become a major part of the Irish food calendar,” said Helen Lyons, group publisher at Metropolis Media, which organised the event.
“Once again we received a huge number of entries, and spent four weeks testing and judging the most delicious products. We had another wonderful night celebrating the success of our winners — huge congratulations to everyone.”
Picking up an Irish Quality Food and Drink Award is a powerful marketing tool, with many past winners using the awards’ logos on their packaging and in national press, television, and outdoor advertising.
Mairéad Finnegan runs and owns Roll It Pastry, whose Sweet Shortcrust Pastry won the frozen food (sweet) category last year. “Winning in my category two years in a row has not only allowed me to grow in confidence but sales increased quite significantly in 2015 and particularly in the last quarter following the awards being announced.
“The publicity surrounding the awards resulted in my products going into trial with a major Irish retailer and that along with a growth in sales in existing retailers meant that my turnover in Q4 2015 was almost equal to my entire turnover in 2014.”
The awards themselves are organised into two distinct sections: Irish Quality Food Awards — products for the multiple and independent grocery retail market — and the Irish Quality Drink Awards: Alcoholic drinks for the retail sector.
The Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards are partnered with trade magazine Easy Food. The awards are also sponsored by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, Dairymaid, Invest Northern Ireland, and the Italian company Sacla.
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