31 October 2019
By Elaine Murphy
The winners of the prestigious Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards 2019 were announced recently to a packed house at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin. Producers, retailers and wholesalers from across the Irish food and drink industry came together to celebrate the very best produce available in Ireland.
Awards were made in over 50 categories Products were judged, earlier this year, by a panel of over 50 food experts from across Ireland and the UK over a three-week period at the University of Limerick. The awards include branded and own-label produce, reflecting the whole industry. It also highlights the efforts made by retailers and wholesalers to provide the best quality at the best prices for their customers; both the general public and in the foodservice industry.
In addition to the category winners being announced ( see the full list of winners here: www.irish.qualityfoodawards.com), a number of special awards were also announced;
The Gold Q Winner: the highest product accolade in the Quality Food & Drink Awards – went to North Cork Creameries Kanturk, Co Cork for their Pure Irish Creamery Butter
· The Christmas Gold Q Award: Wildberry Bakery, Balineen, West Cork for their Jewelled Christmas Cake
· The Small Producer of the Year Award, sponsored by Dunnes Simply Better: O’Neills Dry Cure Bacon Company, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. Part of this prize is that Dunnes works with the winner to get their products listed in its stores. Wildberry Bakery products, who took this Award last year, has just seen its cakes go on sale in Dunne’s this month.
· The Rising Star Award, sponsored by Lidl Ireland: The Cotter Brothers, producers of Cotter Organic Lamb at Dromtrasna North, West Limerick. This award sets recognise and appreciate individuals aged under 25 who have a passion for quality food and drink
· The Food Hero Award, sponsored by Aldi Ireland: Oonagh Monaghan editor of ‘Money For Jam and founder of Alpha Omega, Consultants in Food Business Development, Manorhamilton, Co Letrim. The Food Hero Award recognises an individual who stands out in the industry for their sheer passion, drive, enthusiasm and hard work.
· No Time for Waste Award, sponsored by Tesco Ireland: Ballymaguire Foods, Lusk, Co Dublin. Ballymaguire Foods will be given the opportunity to have a year’s mentoring with Tesco Ireland’s technical team, helping their company to reduce or even eliminate food waste
· Meet the Buyer Award, sponsored by Limerick Enterprise Office: Wicklow Gold Beechwood Smoked Cheddar – Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese, Arklow, Co Wicklow. This award, new to this year, was awarded to Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese who excelled at the IIQFA Meet the Buyer event which took place earlier this year.
· Christmas Retailer of the Year; Dunnes Stores
· Retailer of the Year Award: Dunnes Stores. This Award recognises the huge innovation this Irish family-owned supermarket group has brought to the retail landscape.
There were a number of Irish Quality Drinks Awards announced, including Armagh Dry Craft Cider, from Aldi Ireland, Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne, Allini Prosecco Spumante Conegliano from Lidl, Chianti Dunnes Stores Simply Better Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Listoke 1777 Small Batch Gin, Tesco Finest Vinas Del Rey Albarino, Tesco Finest French Grain Vodka, Tesco Finest Sauternes and La Fabrique a vin Alicante Bouschet IGP Pays d’Oc 2018 from Dunnes Stores.
As winners of the Small Producer of the Year Award, O’Neills Dry Cure Bacon Company will have the opportunity to work directly with the Simply Better Development and Buying Team as well as the marketing team to launch the brand with Dunnes. All the small producers who entered their produce into the awards were considered by the Dunne’s Stores Simply Better team using the Irish Quality Food and Drink Awards’ robust judging criteria: quality, ingredients, taste, aroma, innovation, packaging and price. A shortlist of three companies then made a presentation ‘Dragons Den’ style to arrive at the winner.
Last year’s winner, Wildberry Bakery has just started supplying their delicious carrot and walnut cakes to Dunnes Stores. On the back of this new contract the company is taking on two new staff. “It was wonderful to work alongside the Simply Better Team for the past 12 months” says Susan Susan Robbins Fehily of Wildberry Bakery (pic attached). They were extremely generous in the time and expertise that they passed on to us. We look forward to many new and exciting projects with them.”
Said Beckie Dart, Director of the Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards “Yet again we have been inundated with the highest quality produce in Ireland. The Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards are proud to help shine a light on Ireland’s best from both branded and own label markets. Congratulations to all those who were shortlisted and winners this evening. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!
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