The Northern Ireland Food & Drinks Awards take place just once every two years with the biggest and best businesses of the province in attendance hoping to pick up a coveted award.

With 100,000 private sector jobs depending on the agri-food supply chain, and an industry turnover of £5bn, the NIFDA Awards are said to be the most important in Northern Ireland’s business calendar.

The 14th NIFDA Awards took place in late March 2017 at the Crowne Plaza in Belfast, hosting iconic brands such as Thompson’s Family Teas, Moy Park, Dale Farm and Tayto.

The most coveted, and indeed most competitive award, is the People’s Choice Award, voted for by the public and this year sponsored by Food NI. There were many well-known and loved local brands vying for contention, but when the thousands of votes were tallied up, there was just 1% between Thompson’s Family Teas and Tatyo!

The announcement was made by BBC’s Noel Thompson, and it was Thompson’s Family Teas hero brand ‘Punjana’ that won the award for Northern Ireland’s favourite product. Jamie, 4th generation Thompson, collected the award making it two wins in a row for Punjana Tea at the NIFDA Awards.

A Northern Irish family business, it all began in 1896, where from a tea warehouse near Belfast docks, founder Robert S Thompson, trained in the art of tea tasting and soon became known for his uncompromising devotion to quality.

Today, Thompson’s Family Teas, who make Northern Ireland’s best-selling tea, Punjana, have been blending and packing their award-winning range in Belfast for over 120 years.

As 4th generation Thompson’s, they share this passion for quality and take great pleasure in selecting teas from only the very finest gardens in Assam, Kenya and beyond. These tea leaves are highly prized and command a greater price. These are the leaves which find their way into the Thompson’s blends.