28 February 1997

Biltong with a flavour of Ireland…

BEEF biltong is not a product immediately associated with Northern Ireland. But it is a prime example of the innovative product development by companies from the province that won praise from Baroness Denton, Northern Ireland Economy & Agriculture Minister, at the International Food & Drink Exhibition.

"We have tried to say that the future is in adding value to a product before it leaves the province," said Baroness Denton, while visiting the Northern Ireland group stand where 25 companies were exhibiting.

"I am delighted to see the people here looking for new markets. With just 1.6m people you have to look elsewhere if you are going to grow, and companies are used to dealing with packing and shipping as they have to do that even to sell within Great Britain."

Baroness Denton has seen tremendous change in the three years she has been minister and is confident that producers will build on the opportunities the ceasefire opened up, despite recent setbacks to this, and the BSE crisis.

"Beef producers desperately want to see the BSE ban lifted but they are taking the view that you dont break the link with your customers while you wait," she said.

Baroness Dentons own enthusiasm for foods from the province has given her a personal interest in the Stormont Stone. This is not some ancient artifact, but the amount of weight you put on after you arrive in the province! TG