Local food and drink start-ups will have the chance to showcase their talents to an international audience at the Northern Ireland Open at the Ulster Bank Food Festival this July.

The festival will be hosted at Galgorm Castle during the Northern Ireland Open from July 27 to 31.

It will provide businesses such as those from the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery in Belfast and Artisan NI the chance to set-up shop for samples and sales at the purpose-built marquee.

Building on the success of last year’s initial launch and the bank’s presence at the Balmoral Show, one of the UK’s largest agricultural and food shows, it marks renewed commitment by Ulster Bank to the sector to help businesses maximise opportunities for export.

The event also highlights the work that is being done to support Northern Ireland’s important food and drink industry, with 2016 designated as Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink.

According to the most recent estimates, the turnover of the Northern Ireland food and drinks processing sector is around £4.7 billion.

Speaking at the launch of the festival, Ulster Bank's Terry Robb said that not only does the Northern Ireland Open provide a platform for top international talent, it also offers local food and drink businesses a chance to show what they’re made of and reach new markets at a time when the spotlight is firmly on outstanding local quality produce.

"We're proud to provide help for what matters to their businesses."

Gary Henry, Northern Ireland Open Event Director, said that the Open is looking forward to welcoming upwards of 40,000 visitors to Galgorm Castle over event week and hope they enjoy the world class local produce on offer.

The Northern Ireland Open in partnership with Ulster Bank begins with Pro Am Day on Wednesday July 27, with the tournament running from Thursday 28 to Sunday 31 July at Galgorm Castle. Tickets for the NI Open are free and can be secured by registering online.