Ireland’s top food and drink producers for 2024 are named

Crisis in restaurant sector could hit food industry, warns Irish Food Writers’ Guild

Peter and Mary Ward, who opened their food shop and cafe, Country Choice, in Nenagh in 1982, had their commitment to promoting Irish artisan food producers recognised at the Irish Food Writers’ Guild 2024 Food Awards, announced in Dublin on Tuesday.

The couple were presented with a Lifetime Achievement award at the 31st annual IFWG awards ceremony, at which presentations were also made to food and drink producers and to activists in the fields of food waste prevention, community food and regenerative farming.

The food award winners, voted for by members of the guild, were the Louët Feisser family’s Carlingford Oysters in Co Louth; Mary and Helen Regan’s Regan Organic Chicken in Co Wexford, and Mairead Finnegan’s Roll It All Butter Pastry in Co Meath. Valentia Island Vermouth, produced by Anna and Orla Snook O’Carroll in Co Kerry, was the drink award winner. Matt Fuller, head chef at Suesey Street restaurant in Dublin 2, which hosted the event, created a four-course menu for the awards ceremony, using the winning produce.

Conor Spacey, a chef and cookbook author, was the recipient of an award for Notable Contribution to Irish Food. As culinary director of food service and hospitality management company, Food Space, Spacey has campaigned for zero-waste initiatives and is co-creator of The Chefs’ Manifesto, a global network of chefs working towards improvements in the global food system.


The Environmental Award was given to Clive Bright of Rare Ruminare, a family farm in Ballymote, Co Sligo which produces grass-fed beef on land farmed regeneratively and sustainably. The Community Food Award winner was the Cork Urban Soil Project, a community-scale waste system that is using an aerobic biodigester that can turn food waste into nutrient-rich compost.

Caroline Hennessy, chair of the IFWG, in her welcome speech referenced the current difficulties facing restaurateurs. “If we don’t address the crisis facing Ireland’s restaurant sector we will not only see the closure of many more local businesses this year, but the potential demise of our wider vibrant food industry,” she said.

“Notwithstanding the challenges facing small food and drink businesses right now, we have a sector of which we can be extremely proud. Today’s IFWG Food Awards are a celebration as we shine a light on exemplars of the country’s thriving, world-class artisan food and drink industry. But Ireland’s producers need support from Government, from supermarket and restaurant buyers and from consumers who want to eat and drink exceptional and sustainably sourced Irish produce.”