Inaugural NI Food and Drink Conference launches

Bookings are now open for the first Northern Ireland Food and Drink Conference. Open to anyone from the sectors connected to food and drink, from farming and food manufacturing to cold storage, distribution, packaging and retail, the new conference will be a valuable forum for discussion on the challenges facing the sector, and a networking opportunity to catch up with peers with a passion for NI food and drink.

Organised by the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) and supported by the Department for Business and Trade, Food Standards Agency and Invest Northern Ireland, the conference will take place on Tuesday 25 April at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge from 08:30 – 16:00.

With keynote speakers, engaging panellists and topical case studies, the event will examine latest market trends, the regulatory environment, and the opportunities for growth.

Sessions will include topics covering exporting, food standards, sustainability, consumer trends, automation and much more, with confirmed speakers including Department for Business and Trade Director for Agriculture, Food and Drink, Rachel Gwyon; Groceries Code Adjudicator Mark White; Food Standards Agency Chief Executive Emily Miles; Food & Drinks Export Council Co-Chair Ian Wright CBE; retail market expert Dr Clive Black and Louise Robinson, Commercial Excellence and Client Impact Director at Kantar.

Michael Bell OBE, Executive Director, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association (NIFDA) said: We are delighted to launch the inaugural Northern Ireland Food and Drink Conference at such a key moment for the entire ‘eating ecosystem’ of sectors linked to food and drink. As firms adapt to new trading arrangements, the need to make sustainability gains and ever-evolving regulatory and consumer market trends, the industry faces multiple complex challenges in the years ahead.

“The Northern Ireland Food and Drink Conference will bring leaders from industry and government together to explore the opportunities these challenges present, with keynote speakers and panel discussions identifying the key market megatrends, the growth potential of sustainability, the benefits of emerging technologies and how we can boost our exports.

“Collaboration between industry and government will be key to taking Northern Ireland food and drink to the next level and growing the local economy in the process. With both expert speakers and delegates attending from across both industry and government, the conference will be a great way to facilitate that cooperation and strengthen our networks.

“Throughout the day delegates will also of course have the opportunity to enjoy some of the very best of Northern Ireland food and drink. The conference is going to be a key event in the industry calendar, and I would encourage those interested in attending to register as soon as possible.”

Rachel Gwyon, Director for Agriculture, Food and Drink for the Department for Business and Trade says: “Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry contributes over £5.4 billion to Northern Ireland’s economy. I am delighted to be involved in NIFDA’s first-ever Food and Drink conference, which promises to be hugely valuable to any business operating within Northern Ireland’s eating eco-system.

From Punjana tea in Poland to Shortcross Gin in Paraguay, there is a demonstrable appetite for produce from Northern Ireland across the world. The Department for Business and Trade is committed to supporting Northern Ireland businesses to grow internationally, and to showcasing Northern Ireland’s reputation of excellence overseas.”

For more information on the conference and to book your place, visit

Pic Caption L – R: Andy Cole, Food Standards Agency Director for Northern Ireland; Michael Bell OBE, NIFDA Executive Director; John Hood, Director Food and Drink, Invest NI; James Toolan, Deputy Director, Department for Business and Trade.