Food and drink is a vital and growing industry in Northern Ireland. In terms of turnover, employment and cultural significance, this £5.8bn sector continues to extend its reach in GB and in international markets. Whilst 50% of turnover comes from our top 10 companies, family-owned businesses remain prominent, resulting in an industry that is flexible, authentic and forward-thinking.
Northern Ireland’s produce has proven award-winning status, the result of many years of success in schemes such as Great Taste, the Quality Food Awards and the Scottish Retail Food and Drink Awards. Key to this success is our unique blend of tradition and innovation, exemplified by the recent rapid growth in whiskey distilling in Northern Ireland. The Irish whiskey category is expected to increase by nearly £1bn over the next 5 years. Until recently the Old Bushmills Distillery – the world’s oldest licensed distillery – was the only distillery in Northern Ireland but now the region boasts 7 distilleries, with an eighth in progress as The Belfast Distillery Company progresses with its £22.3mn distillery and visitor experience located at Crumlin Road Gaol. As well as creating award-winning whiskeys and gins, these distilleries are playing an increasingly important role in attracting and entertaining tourists. Distilleries on the Island of Ireland attract over 1 million visitors per year and the likes of Bushmills, Echlinville, Rademon, Boatyard, Hinch and Belfast Distillery are playing a key role in this growth.
Invest NI’s dedicated food business development team supports local companies to develop their business with customers in GB and beyond.
Visit buynifood.com or contact us directly to learn how our world-class food and drink can help grow your business.