It’s been one of the most important times in the year for Irish food producers. The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards were held at the Dingle Food Festival in Kerry on the first weekend in October.
The pretty town was thronged with stalls and displays for the thousands of foodies who descend on it. The awards are in their 8th year now, having been set up by Artie Clifford.
He wanted to create an accreditation which would be recognised as a sign of quality. The distinctive Gold, Silver and Bronze stickers have the highest recognition among Irish consumers. They certainly help to get Irish products lifted off the shelves.
This year, more than 2500 products were entered. They were all blind-tasted by panels of judges.
“The whole thing is based on a sense of pride in our Irish food and drink” says Artie.
“We started off with 400 entrants and we were able to do all of the judging in Dingle in one day. This thing has just grown and grown. Now we have nearly 150 categories including sub-divisions plus a new online entry system. That means our Directory took us just two weeks to compile instead of six.
There’s no doubt that the awards have grown in prestige and popularity, but does a sticker translate into increased sales?
“Absolutely” says Artie. “One producer told me last week he was now shipping to the USA in containers.
“Even reaching the finals is a massive achievement and yes, these awards do open doors, but it’s also about the clap on the back for the producer who is head down working on their business. It’s important to get that recognition from someone outside the company. It gives them confidence and from there they can grow their businesses even more.”
Look out for the stickers on a host of products in your Flavor Boxes. Be sure to let us know what you think.