• Cyril McAree

Chef's Choice Award At The Bord Bia National Organic Awards 2018


Wexford-based Irish Country Meats, received the overall award at this year’s Bord Bia National Organic Awards 2018. The National Organic Awards are run every second year by Bord Bia in association with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The MC for this year’s event was journalist and broadcaster, Helen Carroll and the Awards were presented by Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle TD.

Following rigorous judging of over 200 entries, six organic food companies were selected as overall category winners. The event marked a true celebration of the best of Irish Organic food as a wide selection of produce from all over the country was represented on the winning stage. Awards were presented in categories including foodservice, retail, direct sales, innovation and export and a new category to the competition this year – The Business in the Community Award. Wexford-based Irish Country Meats, was the recipient of the Overall Award, which was accepted on behalf of the company by Managing Director, Joe Hyland. “We are absolutely thrilled to receive this award today,” he said. “We take great pride in being the leading innovators and organic ambassadors in the lamb space in Europe but to be recognised in the home market in this way means a lot to us.” Irish Country Meats also took the Retail Award for its Good Herdsmen Organic Half Leg of Lamb. “The product was developed and marketed to meet with a new dynamic opportunity driven by consumer demand for an organic option,” said Mr. Hyland.

This year two Kilkenny food businesses were among the top six winners. Riversfield Organic Farm, in Callen, Co. Kilkenny, were winners of the Chef’s Choice Award for their cherry tomatoes. Owner, Vincent Grace said, “We are thrilled to have won this award, we are very proud of our tomatoes, their versatility has them making appearances in local cafes as well as in Michelin-starred restaurants.” Highbank Organic Orchards and Distillery, from Cuffesgrange, Kilkenny, picked up the Direct Selling Award for their fortified apple wine, Sack No. 3 Pommeau vintage 2016. The husband and wife team, Rod and Julie Calder-Potts, have been developing a range of products that add value to their apples, exploiting their exceptional properties of taste and flavour, which they call “Pip to Sip.” A partnership between The Little Milk Co. based in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford and a company producing Ireland’s best-loved farmhouse cheese, Cashel Blue based in Tipperary, led to success in the Export Award at the National Organic Awards. Since they joined forces the company has been successfully selling the new organic Cashel Blue to the best retailers and hoteliers all over the world. Beechlawn Organic Farm Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, picked up the award for the best New and Innovative Product. They identified a growing consumer need for biodegradable packaging and introduced the biobag, a fully biodegradable solution, to package their organic curly kale product.

Sli Eile Housing Community Organic Farm, Mallow, Co. Cork was the winner of the new Business in the Community Award. Their work not only results in producing delicious organic vegetables but, in doing so, helps the people who work the farm recover and rebuild their lives after experiencing mental health challenges.

The Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle TD said, “The quality of Irish organic produce entered for these awards highlights once again that Irish organic food is of a high quality and can readily compete on the world stage. Today is a celebration of the achievements of these individual companies and Irish organic food and drink as a whole. It’s a sector with a bright future and before the end of this year we will be publishing the strategy for its future development to the year 2025.”

Speaking at this year’s Awards, Tara McCarthy, CEO Board Bia, said: “It’s very exciting to see such a broad variety of producers and products represented at this year’s National Organic Awards. It demonstrates why Irish consumers are increasingly choosing to include organic in their weekly shop. Bord Bia is committed to supporting Irish organic producers to reach their potential and strengthen their trade both at home, and in key export markets.”

In celebration of the Awards, a 70-strong crowd of individuals from the shortlisted producer companies, along with stakeholders from the organic industry, enjoyed a delicious Irish organic meal at the offices of Bord Bia in Dublin today.

Judges:

This year’s judging panel included Evan Doyle, Owner The BrookLodge Hotel, Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow; Franck Bardet - Sourcing Director Biocoop France; Dr. Oliver Moore, Irish Examiner Journalist, UCC Lecturer and Gillian Nelis, Food Writer with The Sunday Business Post.

National Organic Plan:

Established by the National Organic Plan under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in collaboration with Bord Bia, the objective of the National Organic Awards is to recognise the achievements and raise the profile of Irish organic food and drink manufacturers and growers. Now in their ninth year, the Awards are recognised as an important fixture in the calendar for the organic food and drink industry.


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