The Walled City Brewery’s “LegenDerry Food Experience” showcase event on Wednesday was the perfect setting for Derry City and Strabane District Council to announce details of its ambitious plans to build on the city and district’s unique food offering in order to position Derry as the number one food destination on the island of Ireland by 2025.
The Local Food and Drink Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2025 was officially launched at a local food showcase event that saw over 70 guests including food stakeholders from across the island of Ireland gather to celebrate and promote the city’s food offering.
The Strategy, which is funded by the NICHE EU INTERREG Project, aims to 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.
The ambition is to grow the existing LegenDerry Food brand, establish a food and drink network with local businesses and further develop a strong food culture where local produce is prioritised by hospitality, retail and consumers.
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.
Launching the Strategy, Mayor John Boyle outlined details of its ambitious targets for growth that include doubling food and drink related visitor spend to £33m by 2025 in line with the Council’s Tourism Strategy.
Council has also committed to work with the sector to double visitor spend to £100m by 2025 and create up to 1,000 additional jobs,
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.
In addition to the Strategy being launched, guests were encouraged to sign up to be part of the newly established LegenDerry Food and Drink Network.
This is an informal network of businesses and organisations within the sector who will work in close collaboration to represent, promote and develop the local food & 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.
Jennifer O’Donnell Tourism Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council explained that in devising the Strategy officers looked at other locations that are benefiting from food tourism including San Sebastian in Spain and Melbourne in Australia.
“Food Tourism is a significant area of growth, with visitors increasingly seeking out unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences.
“Food really connects people to a place and we want to continue to grow this element of our tourism offer.
“This strategy now provides a roadmap to do this.
“We have a number of key propositions that include our Lough Foyle Irish flat oyster, a unique food heritage and a truly vibrant food scene which set us apart from other destinations.
“We believe this Strategy is ambitious, but achievable and the vision clearly sets out where we want to be positioned in the market place,” she said.
The Food and Drink Strategy is a Niche EU funded INTERREG project.