Council sets out stall for city to be food destination

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Derry City and Strabane District Council has announced ambitious plans to build on the city’s unique food offering in order to position Londonderry as the number one food destination on the island of Ireland by 2025.

The Walled City Brewery’s ‘LegenDerry Food Experience’ showcase event was the perfect setting for the launch of the Local Food and Drink Strategy Action Plan for 2019-2025.

The local food showcase event held last week 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, ims 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.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Councillor 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.”

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 and drink offering within the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

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 added: “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.”