Munster producers bring home the bacon at food awards

AN extraordinary number of food producers in Munster have won international acclaim at the 2010 Great Taste Awards held in London.

From cottage industries to large producers, Irish food products dominated the prestigious competition.

Among the winners in what is regarded as the Oscars for the food industry are Oakpark Foods and AIBP, both based in Cahir, Co Tipperary; Kenmare Select in Kerry; Irish Yoghurts in Clonakilty, Co Cork; The Kenmare Salmon Co Ltd; Hanleys Puddings, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, and the Burren Smokehouse, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare.

Superquinn claimed a phenomenal 32 titles. This is the second very successful year for Superquinn at the awards, having claimed 25 titles last year and becoming the most successful Irish retailer at the event since its inception in 1993.

The awards attracted more than 4,500 entries from Britain and Ireland. All entries go through a rigorous judging process.

Superquinn took home a 3-star gold award, the highest level of prize any product can aspire to, for its SQ Raspberry Sorbet, which is produced by Silver Pail Dairy, based in Fermoy, Co Cork, as well as 10 2-star gold awards, and 21 one-star gold awards.

James Wilson, trading director at Superquinn, said the company was, justifiably, proud of its achievements. “We were amazed last year to have won 25 awards which, at the time, was a record number for any food retailer in Ireland or the UK to achieve, so to go even higher and win 32 awards is a reflection that our team really are the best of the best in terms of quality food.”

It is also the second year in a row that AIBP in Cahir, Co Tipperary, which supplies beef to Superquinn, has won gold stars. “This is fantastic,” said Ray Connolly, account manager with AIBP. “In 2009 we got one star for our organic burger for Superquinn. This year we got one star for our striploin and one for our ribeye. Our dry-aged ribeye was also awarded the Best Steak In the World by The Beef Magazine in Germany.”

The German retailer Lidl also won an award for its Irish meat products. Lidl’s Glensallagh pale streaky bacon, which is made by Oakpark Foods, in Cahir, was described as “close to perfection” by the Great Taste Awards judges. Glensallagh won an upmarket gold star for its product, which retails at a decidely downmarket €1.49.

Lidl spokeswoman Aoife Clarke said the award was proof that Lidl’s lower prices did not mean a diminution in standards.

“We source only one brand of many items so we are able to get the best deal for the customers,” she said. “Lidl has a policy of sourcing the highest-quality products and the award is a testament to this commitment.”

Oakpark Foods won five awards, which was unprecedented for a single food producer. “We are delighted with the outcome of the Great Taste awards, said the company’s sales manager, David Brett. “I think that winning five awards shows our dedication to producing quality products.”

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