Wicklow food and drink producers gather at Tinahely to hear about ‘Wicklow Naturally’
Wicklow food and drink producers attended a special preview event hosted by ‘Wicklow Naturally’ – our food and drink network which was created as part of the ongoing implementation of the county’s Food and Beverage Strategy. We will champion local producers, their products and the businesses which sell and serve those products. We also aim to boost tourism by highlighting Wicklow as a leading “foodie” destination in Ireland’s Ancient East.
The implementation of the strategy, which was launched at Killruddery Estate in April 2019, is being delivered by Birnie & Associates Consulting who are being led by a steering committee made up of representatives from Wicklow County Council, County Wicklow Partnership, the Local Enterprise Office, Wicklow Tourism and leading business representatives working in the sector.
Over 20 producers attended the event to showcase their products and to hear about the opportunities ‘Wicklow Naturally’ presents in terms of telling Wicklow’s food and drink story, developing a food activity calendar, increasing stakeholder networking, getting local food to Wicklow consumers and also in terms of business support which will enable growth.
Speaking at the event, Christine Flood, Wicklow County Council, thanked Philip Hadden and Rebecca Allen for their warm welcome and complimented the food and drink beverage producers on their wonderful display of produce.
She said: “This is an occasion to celebrate the excellence of our food and beverage offering. The Wicklow Food and Beverage Strategy had its origins in the Local Economic and Community Plan, when the need to support the county’s food and beverage production, through brand development, promotion, marketing and food tourism was highlighted. This was initially a partnership between Local Enterprise Office and the Community and Enterprise Departments of Wicklow County Council.
“I was delighted when County Wicklow Partnership (CWP) came on board to support the implementation of the project through LEADER funding”. She acknowledged the important role CWP has always played in supporting the county’s food and drink producers. “I would also like to thank Pamela Walsh, chairperson and the members of the steering committee for their time and commitment.”
Pamela Walsh, chairperson of the steering committee, and Managing Director of Wicklow Way Wines (Winery), said: “It was great to see the enthusiasm from so many of Wicklow’s wonderful food and beverage producers braving the wind and snow to participate at the producers’ event. Following the launch of the Food and Beverage Strategy, we’ve completed a lot of foundation work on branding and implementation. We’re now really looking forward to coming together at multiple events throughout 2020 to show the full breadth and depth of what the Wicklow food scene has to offer.”
Fred Verdier, Manager of Wicklow Tourism, who also attended, said: “Food and drink producers are the backbone of the superb food and drink offering here in Wicklow. Everyone working together will be a key driver in developing food tourism. We want to continue giving our visitors a top-class experience while reaching out to new market segments. Wicklow Naturally will be key in supporting the work we do at Wicklow Tourism.”
Dr Jonathan Birnie, of Birnie & Associates Consulting said: “The enthusiasm among food and drink producers is fantastic. ‘Wicklow Naturally’ is a brand which everyone can be proud off. We are in the process of building a website which will be live next month (March 2020) while we continue delivering on key actions which will satisfy the strategy. We will be hosting a similar events in the coming weeks with other key businesses working in the food and drink sector.”