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Ambitious strategy to grow food and tourism in Derry

sam butlerAn ambitious strategy that aims to develop Derry as a food hub for the island of Ireland has been launched by the council, reports Sam Butleer.

The strategy, which is funded by the NICHE EU INTERREG Project, will build on the city’s existing reputation as a stand out food destination within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland having secured numerous awards, delivered international scale festivals and events, unique food experiences and award winning restaurants and producers. It aims to see the Derry area become Ireland’s number one food destination by 2025.

Key actions include plans to develop up to 50 new food and drink products, 20 new food and drink experiences as well as develop a full calendar of food events throughout the year. This could lead to 1,000 new jobs.

The Local Food and Drink Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2025, developed by Derry-Strabane council, focuses on the further development of the LegenDerry food brand and involves the establishment of a food network with local businesses. It will develop a strong food culture where local produce is prioritised by hospitality, retail and consumers.

Launching the strategy, the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr John Boyle outlined details of its ambitious targets for growth that include doubling food and drink related visitor spend to £33 million by 2025 in line with the Council’s Tourism Strategy.

He said: “The strategy highlights the unique selling points for development which include the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster, Unique Food Heritage, A Cultural and Vibrant Food Scene and further positioning the Walled City as the gateway to the wider food experience.”

Details were unveiled of a number of aspirational proposals including development and promotion of the Lough Foyle Irish Flat Oyster and growing the local cultural and vibrant food scene as part of a wider regional food experience.

The new food network is an informal grouping of businesses and organisations within the sector which will work in close collaboration to represent, promote and develop the local food and drink offering within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. They will work in partnership with council and the Strategic Food Group to support with the delivery of the Local Food and Drink Strategy.

It will also afford local businesses a range of opportunities to be part of best practice trips, gain access to tradeshows, and networking events as well as taking an active role in shaping the activity that will grow the city and region as the leading food destination on the island.

James and Louise Huey, owners of the Walled City Brewery said they were delighted to host ‘A LegenDerry Food Experience’ saying the event highlighted why uniquely positioning the city and region’s authentic food and drink products and interacting with customers can create an experience that will leave a lasting impression.

Mr Huey said: “This event was the perfect opportunity to launch the strategy and provided us with a fantastic forum to showcase our produce.  I am really excited to play a part in the newly formed Food and drink network and look forward to working with council and all those in the food sector to really drive the city forward as the number one food destination on the island of Ireland.”

Welcoming the commitment by council to work with the sector to double visitor spend to £100 million by 2025 and create up to 1,000 additional jobs.