This year’s Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival was worth an estimated £365,000 to the Manx economy, according to a research report.

The Marketing Partnership gathered information from 224 visitors and 28 exhibitors at September’s event which showcased the delicious creations of 70 local producers.

However, the 2021 event saw a big drop off from 2020, which is unsurprising given that the previous year’s event was held post lockdown and travel on and off island was restricted. Including children, around 10,000 people attended this year’s event, compared to 16,000 in 2020. The entrance fee also returned to £5 for 2021, compared to £2.50 for 2020.

Clare Barber, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: ‘The festival continues to play a significant role in growing the food and drink sector, a key goal of our Food Matters strategy. The report gives a clear indication that people are increasingly keen to know where their food comes from and buy and support local.’

Report

The report itself makes for interesting reading. Producers were encouraged to display the Isle of Man provenance label which indicates food that is grown, reared, caught and processed in the Isle of Man, or contains mostly Manx ingredients. The report showed around 70% of those surveyed were aware of the label and felt it was important.

The most common responses for what people enjoyed about the festival were ‘food/produce’, ‘atmosphere’, ‘friendly’ and ‘range of produce’. Whereas the most common complaint was the ‘queues’ followed by ‘nothing’ which suggests people were largely happy with their experience. However there was criticism about a lack of veggie and sea food options as well as wasps (why can’t the gov control these beasts?!?!?) and people saying they thought it was ‘pricey’.

However almost all of the exhibitors were fairly happy with the event, with some negative comments including one who was unhappy to have live animals near their stall.

Future

The gov has also used the report to gauge feeling around moving the event elsewhere. Of those polled, 55.7% said they would go to the event wherever it was held whereas just 33.9% said it should stay at the Villa. Noble’s Park also proved unpopular with just 18.6% of people saying it should be here there whereas Knockaloe, home of the Royal Show, proved very unpopular with just 6.8% of people saying it would make a good base for the food and drink fest.

Indeed if the gov was to move the event, judged on the additional comments to this question, with locations suggested such as the Nunnery, Peel Cathedral, Silverdale, Great Meadow and Ramsey, DEFA could take this as a green light to take the festival on the road and hold it in different parts of the year rather than just anchoring it to the Villa.

How Did You Know?

Most of those who filled in the survey said they knew the event was on anyway and a demising number of people found out about it through the traditional media. The report says: ‘Awareness created through the local press continues to diminish, with just 18% respondents indicating this was where they hear about the Festival (c28% in 2020). Just 7% claimed to have heard about the festival via radio which appears to be reducing compared with the last 3-4 years (10% in 2020). These responses give a clear indication for the need for integrated future promotional campaigns around the event using a variety of fully integrated media.’

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