Henderson Wholesale has launched their local food awards for 2019, set to take place at the Balmoral Show.

The Fresh Innovation Awards 2019 will honour all those local farmers, growers and suppliers which Henderson Wholesale’s Fresh Team works with throughout the year to better the product ranges on shelves of SPAR and EUROSPAR stores and supermarkets in Northern Ireland.

Last year, new categories were added to honour the industry’s Young Agri-food Innovators and those who have made a significant impact with the Contribution to Agri-food Industry in Northern Ireland Award.

Brian Irwin of Irwin’s Bakery was named as the inaugural winner, with the company also being named Overall Supplier of the Year.

Gary Mason from Irwin’s Bakery joined host of the awards, BBC NI’s Jo Scott and Nigel Dugan, Fresh Foods Trading Controller and Chair of the judging panel to launch the awards for 2019.

Mr Dugan commented; “Our local food suppliers are integral to the growth of our wholesale business, and the Fresh Innovation Awards are an important initiative to honour the pioneering work they are undertaking to push the boundaries of our industry even higher.

“Categories including Own Brand Supplier of the Year will reward those helping us to continue to improve and revamp our enjoy local and The Kitchen brands, while the Product Innovation Award is a nod to those who are shaking up how we use local ingredients to produce completely homemade and entirely local products for our shoppers. We’re looking forward to seeing the entries and our judges, once again, to be blown away by the quality and innovation in the local fresh food industry.”

The judging panel will once again be made up of industry experts with the full panel from 2018 returning for the 2019 panel; Food writer Sam Butler and Head of Food Technology at CAFRE, Joy Alexander will once again be joined by Irish News Business Editor Gary McDonald and Dr Lynsey Hollywood, Ulster University Business School’s Agri-Food Business Development Centre Manager. Michele Shirlow MBE, CEO of Food NI also joins the panel for the first time.

In total there are seven categories, also including Excellence in Regional Delivery, and the Tomorrow Matters Award which rewards those suppliers that can demonstrate their own company’s initiatives aligned to Henderson’s own CSR strategy, People, Place, Planet. Full list of categories below.

Local suppliers to Henderson Group can enter the Fresh Innovation Awards via www.freshinnovationawards.com. The Awards and Breakfast ceremony will take place at Balmoral Show on Friday 17 May 2019.

SPAR Northern Ireland owned by the Henderson Group will once again support the Balmoral Show as a Platinum Sponsor.

SPAR has been a sponsor since 2010 and will return this year with a feast of family fun to enjoy at the enjoy local marquee and arena, with taste testing from local suppliers, and performances and entertainment in the SPAR Arena.

Patrick Doody, Henderson Group Sales & Marketing Director added; “At Balmoral Show, we wrap up everything our brand is about and bring it to the Show for visitors to enjoy. This is the biggest event in the agri calendar, so it is important for us to be here to communicate our passion for local.”

Full Fresh Innovation Awards category list:

  1. Own Brand Supplier of the Year
  2. The Tomorrow Matters Award
  3. Young Agri-food Innovator
  4. Excellence in Regional Delivery
  5. Product Innovation Award
  6. Contribution to the Agri-food Industry in Northern Ireland (non-entry)
  7. Overall Supplier of the Year (non-entry)