Awards to celebrate excellence across region’s food and drink businesses

The achievements of the entrepreneurial food and drink community, spanning large and small companies, are set to be celebrated with the launch of the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards 2019.

Delivered in partnership by private sector economic development body Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeenshire Council, the awards have recognised the success of the region’s food and drink industry for more than 25 years.

The awards are open to all food and drink producers based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray and are free to enter. Past winners of these prestigious awards include Esker Gin, rora dairy, Duncan Farms and Glen Garioch Distillery.

Categories have continued to evolve to match developments and trends within the sector. Last year, a Best Brewed or Distilled Product category was created (see case study below) and this year, Export Business of the Year has been introduced to reflect the growing number of North East businesses focusing on international markets. The 11 other award categories cover the breadth of industry activity, from Investing in Skills Development to the Best Young Business and Food & Drink Entrepreneur.

The awards form part of ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture’s sector activity, focussed on creating an ambitious cohort of growth companies of all sizes selling premium products into their international markets. Food, drink, agriculture and fishing employ more than 22,000 people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, with food manufacturing companies turning over more than £2.2 billion per annum.

Food and drink are highlighted as a key sector in the Aberdeenshire Council Economic Development Strategy, which aims to create the conditions for sustainable economic growth, diversification and regeneration within Aberdeenshire and the wider region by attracting and supporting businesses.

Pat Machray OBE, Chair of ONE Food, Drink & Agriculture, said:

The awards recognise the sector’s drive, talent and wide range of excellent produce, while inspiring the next generation of food and drink entrepreneurs. Participation can secure important profile for businesses and their products while the judging process has also been designed to provide commercial benefits, such as exposure to national buyers. We look forward to a strong field of entries this year, as we pursue an ambitious growth agenda for the sector in the region with our partners, including Aberdeenshire Council.

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Peter Argyle, said:

Food and drink is such an important and developing area of our diverging local economy and it’s great to see these awards return for another year, recognising and highlighting the best of what’s on offer in north-east Scotland. Where businesses are leading the way in terms of innovation or success it’s important to encourage that and the event is also a chance for leading figures in the industry to share ideas and best practice, further strengthening the area’s increasingly international offering. Food and drink is a key growth area as identified by this council and we are happy to be able to partner with ONE to recognise particular successes in the industry and increase the profile of this part of Scotland as an area with real talent in the food and drink industry, which is going from strength to strength.

The closing date for entries is Monday 28 January 2019. Winners will be announced at an awards presentation dinner, which will take place on Thursday 21 March 2019 at the Ardoe House Hotel.

Businesses can attend a workshop on Wednesday 16 January 2019, which will offer support and guidance on the entry process.

The Awards have received sponsorship from a range of businesses from the North East and across Scotland, including; title sponsor ESS Support Services Worldwide, CMS, Dentons UK and Middle East LLP, Johnston Carmichael, Scotland Food & Drink, Skills Development Scotland and The Moray Council.

Visit the website for more information and to enter the awards.

Case Study

Innovation is a key theme within the awards and a driver for long term sector growth. Lost Loch Spirit’s Murmichan was the recipient of the 2018 Best Brewed or Distilled Product at the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards 2018. The product was launched in October 2017.

Peter Dignan, the co-founder of the Deeside-based business, said:

The North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards were the first awards we had ever entered. We were delighted to be shortlisted and meet face to face with the category judges. Opportunities like those are unusual to come by for a relatively young business. Throughout the process, we benefitted from the exposure the awards generate in media and online and being new to the region’s food and drink community, it was great to meet other participants and make new connections. Winning the award has undoubtedly benefitted our business by helping to spread the word about Scotland’s first absinthe and adding further credibility to our wider product range as it has evolved. The award is an important part of our Murmichan sales pitch and differentiates it when building relationships with potential suppliers, in the UK and further afield.

2019 Award Categories

Most Successful Product from the 2018 Awards – small/medium and large businesses

For the most successful product that reached the finals in 2018. Judged on sales, new businesses generated, product changes. (Open to successfully shortlisted product entries from the 2018 Awards). Sponsor – Aberdeenshire Council.

Best Retail Product – small (under 3 years, under 5 employees)

Best Retail Product – medium (under 25 employees)

Best Retail Product – large (26+ employees)

For food and non-alcoholic drink products developed specifically for the retail sector – can be branded or own label. Products launched between 1 January 2018 and 31 January 2019. Excludes products that are brewed/distilled.

Best Brewed or Distilled Product

For brewed or distilled products developed specifically for the retail and/or foodservice sectors. Products launched between 1 January 2018 and 31 January 2019. Sponsor – Scotland Food & Drink.

Best Foodservice Product

For products developed specifically for the foodservice and catering sector. Products launched between 1 January 2018 and 31 January 2019. Excludes products that are brewed/distilled. Sponsor – ESS Support Services Worldwide.

Best Young Business

For a business less than five years old that can demonstrate the uniqueness of their business, business plan and/or marketing approach.

Investing in Skills Development

For a business who has shown the greatest achievement in raising skills of their workforce and achieving business benefit. Sponsor – Skills Development Scotland.

Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year

For the top food and drink entrepreneur (owner/manager) – judged on performance, entrepreneurial focus, strategic planning, innovation & leadership. Sponsor – Johnston Carmichael.

Export Business of the Year

For the company with a clear internationalisation strategy, which drives exports but can also involve strategic alliances, joint ventures and vision. Sponsor – Dentons UK and Middle East LLP.

Best Food & Drink Tourism Experience

For a primary or added value food or drink producer who has created a local food and drink experience, which is successful at attracting visitors both local and from out with the North East. Sponsor – Opportunity North East.

Innovation Award

For a business who can demonstrate a high level of innovation in their business – whether in product, process or packaging. Sponsor – CMS.

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