Blas na hÉireann 2020 entries open on St. Patrick’s Day – the all-island food awards that recognise the very best Irish food and drink products, and the passionate people making them
It’s the 13th year of Blas na hÉireann, the Irish Food Awards, the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island of Ireland, designed to recognise and celebrate the very best Irish food and drink. Entry opens to producers across all categories of food and drink on March 17th with the early bird discounted rate for entries running until 8th April, before entries finally close on 25th May.
“We have been told first hand that the Blas na hÉireann awards have a significant impact on any winner’s bottom line,” says Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann, “whether it’s raising the profile of a producer’s product, or getting the attention of chefs, restaurants, retailers or general food lovers. The independent endorsement of a Blas award is a recognised quality guarantee that can help get a product onto the shelves of a particular retailer or onto a restaurant menu. It’s also always a huge boost for an individual producer, an appreciation for all their hard work and allows them to savour their achievements which they don’t often have time to do. The Blas na hÉireann awards event in Dingle each year has become an unmissable event allowing the general public, media and trade to meet, discover and appreciate some of the country’s best producers but, more importantly, it has become an opportunity for the Irish food community to come together and celebrate their successes.”
Winners are always the competition’s best ambassadors, something to which over a decade’s worth of small producers, farmers, growers, bakers and artisan food makers who have won a Blas award and proudly put the winner’s sticker on their product can attest. Research has shown that the Blas accreditation has the highest recognition among Irish consumers and having the award logo on products encourages shoppers to buy – it is a recognised guarantee of a top quality Irish product.
A survey of over 100 past winners showed that 81% had seen an increase in sales after displaying the Blas na hÉireann sticker with 28% of those surveyed saying that they saw an increase in sales of over 20%. In the survey many winners noted the credibility that the awards gave to their products with one saying, “Since being awarded at Blas, we have seen our sales increase significantly online and in high profile visitor locations throughout Ireland and abroad.” Another winner surveyed found that a Blas award helped to build relationships with their customers, “I have found that the Blas Award has been great for communicating with my customers in the shop. They really recognise the value of the award and have faith in it and the other products which I stock which have the award logo on their packaging.”
These are exceptionally rigorously-judged awards, as Blas na hÉireann use an innovative blind-tasting judging system developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen that is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide. Products entered are blind-tasted, meaning that all packaging and identifying features are removed from products before being presented for judging, creating a level playing field for products from both large and small producers. Judges come from a range of food backgrounds from chefs to restaurateurs, academics, journalists, authors, food champions, caterers and enthusiastic home cooks.
The founding mission of Blas – establishing quality benchmarks for Irish produce on a level playing field – is strictly adhered to and measurably applied.
“In this our 13th year of the Blas na hÉireann awards, our sector continues to become more innovative and exciting than ever,” says Artie Clifford, Chairperson and founder of Blas na hÉireann. “We aim to assist Irish producers to tell their stories by marking them out as special, and worth exploring. Winning a Blas award has been shown to work for our previous winners in bringing them to the attention of food-lovers both at home and abroad and we are looking forward to doing it all again for Blas na hÉireann 2020.”
Entries for Blas na hÉireann 2020 received online between 17th March and 8th of April are at the discounted early bird fee of €60 per entry (ex VAT). The full entry fee, applicable from 9th April to 25thMay is €75 per entry (ex VAT).