The First Minister joined directors and senior managers from food and drink companies, artisan producers and chefs at the official industry launch of the year-long campaign at a breakfast held by Food NI in Belfast.
Speaking at the event the First Minister said: “I am thrilled to be able to support this fantastic initiative which presents an exciting opportunity for us to celebrate all that is great about Northern Ireland food and drink.
“As Northern Ireland’s biggest manufacturer, the food and drink sector contributes £5billion to the economy, it generates sales abroad in excess of £4billion and provides employment for around 100,000 people across an extensive supply chain.
“I commend Food NI for the work they do to enhance Northern Ireland’s food and drink reputation. Events such as this give us a valuable opportunity to reflect on the importance of the food and drinks industry to our local economy
“The importance of the Year of Food and Drink 2016 cannot be underestimated and I am right behind everything this initiative is setting out to do. I believe it will be a great success and that it will make a huge contribution in the drive to grow Northern Ireland tourism to a new level.”
The briefing was held as part of Breakfast Month, the first theme in the extensive promotional and marketing campaign for Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink 2016.