Balmoral set to pull in a record 100,000 visitors
Inaugural four-day event to smash last year's numbers
Visitor numbers at the Balmoral Show are expected to crack the 100,000 mark for the first time, as the warm weather and an extra day of celebrations are expected to bring families out in force over the next four days.
And it's good news for the region's agri-food businesses which are expected to benefit to the tune of nearly a million pounds' worth of promotion alone.
While organisers have no official estimate on the economic impact of the show on Northern Ireland's agri-food sector, industry experts reckon it could be worth millions to the region.
Food NI chief executive Michele Shirlow said she estimated the promotional value of the Food Pavilion alone to be between £500,000 and £1m as the marquee draws in journalists from around the world and is given significant airtime on broadcast outlets such as RTE, BBC, UTV and dozens of radio stations.
This year, around 20 buyers from major retailers will also be seeking out the best food and drink products to stock.
Ms Shirlow said: "This year, the big trend is for charcuterie, and we have also seen a lot of councils get on board to showcase several producers. The council stands are a good way for start-ups to get a presence at the show as they can take a place on the stand for a day and swap with another producer the next. And with buyers from Applegreen, Tesco, Dunnes, Musgrave and Aldi visiting the Pavilion is a great opportunity to get their products seen."
Dr Esmond Birnie, Ulster University economist, said the benefits of this year's Balmoral Show to the region's agri-food sector aren't just financial.
"There may be other 'non-quantified' effects, a certain feel-good factor for the agri-food and any favourable publicity, especially international publicity and the aid this gives to marketing NI's products," he said.