Ambitious plans to build on Derry’s food offering in order to position the city as the number one food destination in Ireland by 2025 have been unveiled.
The plans were unveiled during the Walled City Brewery’s ‘LegenDerry Food Experience’ showcase event last night, which saw over 70 guests including food stakeholders from across the island of Ireland gather to celebrate and promote the city’s food offering.
The Local Food and Drink Strategy Action Plan, which is funded by the NICHE EU INTERREG Project, aims to build on the city’s reputation as a stand out food destination which has already secured numerous awards, delivered international scale festivals and events, and has 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.
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.
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.
James 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 £100m by 2025 and create up to 1000 additional jobs, Mayor Boyle said: “The food and drink scene in Derry and Strabane is second to none and over the past number of years it has been part of an exciting and inspirational journey to successfully showcase our award winning produce, talented chefs, unique food experiences and award winning restaurants. The investment by a number of local artisan food and drink producers has successfully stimulated business and this has been key to our success. We hope that our continued collaborative approach to provide a unique food and drink experience will set us above the rest in terms of food tourism that will in turn encourage visitors to visit and stay longer.”
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 added.
Concluding the Mayor said he was confident the Strategy would create a flourishing food and drink sector that will be successful in driving tourism growth both in visitor numbers and spend.
“This Food Strategy has the potential to showcase our wider destination offer that reflects our local heritage and unique culture.”