Longford food producers urged to enter Blas na hÉireann awards

Longford Leader Reporter

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Longford food producers urged to enter Blas na hÉireann awards

Longford food producers urged to enter Blas na hÉireann awards

Easter is a distant memory, the last major date on food producers’ calendars, and now it’s time to get ready for the next big thing.

It’s the 11th year of Blas na hÉireann, the Irish Food Awards, the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island of Ireland, designed to recognise and celebrate the very best Irish food and drink, and entry is now open to producers across all categories since March 17 with the early bird discounted rate for entries running until April 30. Entries will finally close on June 15.

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“Winning a Blas na hÉireann award has made significant business differences to our winners,” says Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann, “and our winners are always our best ambassadors. Whether it’s the independent endorsement of a Blas win helping get a product onto the shelves of a particular retailer or onto a restaurant menu, the validation and recognition impacts on the bottom line for our winners. It’s the clap on the back that producers don’t often give themselves and it opens doors, creates opportunities and helps boost a strong sense of confidence in the Irish food sector. Blas is the shop window for some of Ireland’s best producers, and the celebration of this authentic community we continue to build is of huge importance to all the participants, from makers, to buyers, to organisers.”

Winners are always the competition’s best ambassadors, something to which over a decade’s worth of small producers, farmers, growers, bakers and artisan food makers who have won a Blas award and proudly put the winner’s sticker on their product can attest. Research has shown that the Blas accreditation has the highest recognition among Irish consumers and having the award logo on products encourages shoppers to buy – it is a recognised guarantee of a top quality Irish product.

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These are exceptionally rigorously-judged awards, as Blas na hÉireann use an innovative blind-tasting judging system developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC – a system which is now recognised as an international industry standard. The baking experts at The Baking Academy of Ireland have judged the Blas na hÉireann baking competition since the awards began too, meaning that the initial founding mission of Blas – establishing quality benchmarks for Irish produce on a level playing field – is strictly adhered to and measurably applied.

Also returning to this year’s Blas na hÉireann is the hugely successful Backyard at Blas, an innovative meeting space, designed to bring fellow producers together in a relaxed and informal way to meet, mingle and share experience and insights into running a business, and to offer support to those starting out. A laid-back networking opportunity with informative talks, Backyard at Blaswas so popular with attendees previously that the team is taking it on the road ahead of this year’s festival in October. 

Two Backyard at Blas talks have already been confirmed - Press-ing Needs – how to get media coverage with a minimum budget and a little effort on June 26 at the Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul, Co Dublin, and Distribution & Logistics – how to get your foot in the door at home & abroad on June 27 at Airfield Estate in Dundrum. Registration is essential and can be done via the website.

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“More than 10 years on, this sector is getting more competitive every year,” says Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blasna hÉireann. “It’s more challenging than ever for authentic small producers to cut through the clutter and be recognised, and winning a Blas award, in the words of one of our previous winners, Siobhan Lawless of Foods of Athenry, helps in “becoming less ‘invisible’ in an ocean of other products”. This is what we hope Blas does and will continue to do. We are looking forward to an epic year for Blas na hÉireann 2018.”

Entries for Blas na hÉireann 2018 received online HERE between March 17 and April  30 are at the discounted early bird fee of €60 per entry (ex VAT). The full entry fee, applicable from May 1 to June 15 is €75 per entry (ex VAT). 

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