Food UK

IFWG warns against failure to support local producers

Today, the spotlight was turned on independent, grass-roots food producers as the winners of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards 2011 were unveiled. The awards highlight the vital work of small, independent Irish food producers, at a time when supporting home-grown industry is of the utmost importance.

support local producers

support local producers

Those awarded for standards of excellence and for their exceptional contribution to Ireland’s reputation as a top food producing country were:
Janet Drew for Janet’s Country Fayre Beetroot Blush (Wicklow); Brian and Lindy O’Hara for Coopershill House Irish Venison (Sligo); Pat O’Neill for O’Neill Foods’ Dry Cured Rashers, Bacon and Ham (Wexford), with a special Environmental Award going to John Flahavan of Flahavan’s (Waterford).

Artisan baking innovator, Derek O’Brien, was honoured with the Guild’s seldom-awarded Lifetime Achievement Award. Derek, a former head of the Baking Department at DIT and head of the Baking Academy of Ireland, was honoured for so successfully passing on his passion for bread-making and his continuing dedication to passing on skills to the next generation and ensuring the survival of traditional craft baking in Ireland.

Now in its 17th year, the Irish Food Writers Guild (IFWG) Food Awards promote and reward the highest quality produce and have been described as the most important food awards in Ireland. The awards focus on recognising and rewarding indigenous, independent producers that are the lifeblood of the food industry in Ireland.

IFWG Chairperson, Orla Broderick said, “Now more than ever, we need to be supporting our local producers, many of whom are suffering as a result of rising costs; cheap, low quality imports and the obvious fact that our
economy has contracted significantly. All of today’s winners work so
hard to achieve the highest standards and produce the most wonderful of products. If retailers fail to make room on the shelves for our indigenous producers and if we, as consumers, fail to support them, we will in a short space of time witness the demise of dozens of small and medium-sized producers, who will simply be squeezed out of business. This will affect not only Ireland’s food producing capabilities but will also have a significant impact on jobs.”

In describing the selection process for the shortlist of award winners, Ms Broderick said: “We are not confined by the size of the company nor indeed product categories. What’s important and unique about these awards is that no food producer can enter for an award. No company ever even knows that it is being considered for an award until the judging is complete and we make contact with the winners. Our criteria is strict but straightforward – the products, traditional or innovative, must be produced in Ireland and the main ingredients must be home produced.”

Ms Broderick concluded by thanking Bord Bia for its continued support of the Awards and the work it does for the industry in Ireland and abroad.

The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards were presented by one of Ireland’s best known chefs, Darina Allen. Darina commented, “Ireland is one Europe’s largest dairy and beef exporters, and home to several world-class firms and hundreds of food artisans. All this comes at a time when the global demand for food is projected to increase by 70% over the next 40 years. The affluent world is demanding locally grown, non-polluting, traceable, transparent food, exactly what we in Ireland can produce. Thus, recognising the opportunities for Ireland Inc., we need to encourage the brightest and best to pursue a career in all aspects of food production, distribution and marketing to drive the Irish food industry into the future.

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