Success at food awards another boost for Donegal

The work of Donegal Food Coast to enhance the county’s reputation as a food destination, paid dividends again recently when five national prizes returned to the county from the prestigious Blas na hEireann – Irish Food Awards.

The Whole Juice Company from Ramelton and Island Seafoods from Killybegs won national awards, the Killybegs business scooping a Gold and a Silver, with the Whole Green Juice Company bring back a bronze. There were further national successes too when Gallagher’s Bakery from Ardara won a Gold national award for their Purebred (gluten free) mini Victoria sponge and Green Pastures in Convoy also won Bronze national award for their Yeats Country Greek Style Yogurt.

Michael O’Donnell of Island Seafoods, who had three finalist products and came away with two national awards, a Gold and Silver

There were also regional awards and Best in County for Donegal went to Gallagher’s Bakery and Best in Farmer’s Market in Donegal to Mallow Mia from Newtowncunningham.

In total thirteen Donegal products made it to the finals in Kerry, for a competition that saw over 2,500 products entered into what is regarded as biggest contest for quality Irish produce on the island of Ireland.

That was almost double the number of Donegal products in the final from last year and Eve Anne McCarron, Executive with The Food Coast – Donegal’s Good Food Initiative, said that was indicative of the progress being made

“We had five national awards, two regional award winners and 13 products that made it to the finalist stage which is deemed a major achievement in its own right. Only the top five of every category that achieves a certain score can reach the finals in that category.

The Food Coast brand with Donegal Local Enterprise Office sponsor and are involved in such national events as we believe this is an opportunity to showcase what is up and coming in Donegal. It is just one of the ways in which we are working to build Donegal’s food reputation. A full calendar of activity for 2016 is currently being developed.”

The Donegal Food Strategy recognises the huge potential for food in Donegal and we want to work with people with a commitment to Donegal food to create opportunities for success.”

She added that when Donegal Local Enterprise Office launched The Food Coast – Donegal’s Good Food Initiative – the objective was to support development, growth and raise awareness of Donegal’s food sector.

“Now the initiative is on track to further raise awareness of food from within the county – through the The Food Coast Brand – giving local enterprises an opportunity to clearly demonstrate that they champion Donegal food,” she said

Eve-Anne explained that Businesses in Donegal, can now seek to obtain use of The Food Coast branding as a mark of provenance or origin and she believes there is already a strong desire among those working in the food-sector in the county to highlight their pride in Donegal produce.

“By contacting Donegal Local Enterprise Office – Primary producers, Value Added Processors, Retailers, Restaurants and Food Service Businesses – can all now apply to use the Food Coast Brand and to join the Food Coast Network.”

Strict criteria does apply, but the Food Coast Executive says there are already signs that the new branding is becoming much-coveted among those working across the spectrum of the food sector in Donegal.”

In a short space of time, she says, The Food Coast has become a central platform for establishing Donegal as a “Food County” – a place with a vibrant food culture and food economy and that’s something that Donegal Local Enterprise Office and Donegal County Council are determined to expand upon, words echoed by the county’s Chief Executive.

“Donegal Local Enterprise Office and Donegal County Council are keen to ensure that The Food Coast – Donegal’s Good Food Initiative – continues to create employment and contributes to sustaining the county’s local economy,” Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely said.