Increased entries to north-east awards testament to growth of food and drink sector

05/04/2024
Left to Right: Lindsay Prior AGS culinary lead of ESS, Energy, Government and Infrastructure, Ben Hopkins Lefevre founder of Hopkins-Lefevre, and Mark Spalding, senior trading manager of SPAR Scotland

THE excellence and innovation of food and drink businesses in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, and Moray will be recognised in the region’s industry awards in May.

This year, 46 businesses submitted 68 entries across eight categories in the awards, which celebrate success in the vital growth sector and recognise investment in people, products and processes across this diverse and dynamic sector.

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33 businesses have been shortlisted following two days of judging by industry leaders and category experts.

The awards, delivered by Opportunity North East (ONE) in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, have been a springboard for businesses expanding into new markets for over 30 years.

Entrants benefitted from judges from across the UK sharing their knowledge and providing feedback on entries.

ESS, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, is the title sponsor for the awards, and SPAR Scotland, Strachans, Serco NorthLink Ferries, CMS, Scotland Food & Drink and DYW North East Scotland support the awards.

The 2024 awards recognise achievements across eight categories including the best new food and drink products through to the most innovative company, rising star and team of the year.

Martyn Lee, Executive Chef for Waitrose, who leads their food innovation team, judged the best new food product category. He has worked within food development for over 20 years, first within the restaurant sector and for the past 14 years in manufacturing and retail. He is passionate about bringing quality, exciting products to market, using data-led insights including AI.

Martyn Lee said: “It was such an honour to judge the New Food Product category and I had a fantastic time meeting with so many brilliant people in Aberdeenshire. I was really impressed by the innovative products that had been developed, along with the fantastic quality of the produce used.

A big congratulations to all who entered the competition, and I’m really excited for the winner to be announced next month.”

Graham Singer, Culinary Director for Scotland, Energy, Government & Infrastructure at ESS, said: “Our Head Chef, Lindsay Prior and I were delighted to be part of the judging panels for the North East Scotland Food and Drink Awards. The calibre of entries was very high and it’s always fantastic to meet local suppliers, that showcase the very best local produce. Congratulations to all those shortlisted – you are leading excellence within our region.”

Peter Cook, Director of Food, Drink and Agriculture at Opportunity North East, said: “It is tremendous to see an increase in both the number of entries and number of businesses participating this year, and the new names taking part for the first time.  This mirrors the development and growth of the industry in NE Scotland.  For every entrant whether listed or not, the awards are a chance to learn from the judging process and promote their product and people, and ONE will work with every ambitious business to ensure they are all winners in the marketplace.”

The winners will be announced at the new look awards dinner on 9 May 2024 at Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum. G McWilliam (Aberdeen) Ltd. sponsors the dinner menu.

BEST FOOD & DRINK TOURISM EXPERIENCE

  • Aberdeen Cocktail Week
  • SeaFest Peterhead
  • The Lobster Shop
  • Westerton Farmers
  • Wild Food Stories

BEST YOUNG BUSINESS

  • Cabezon Beverage
  • CocoCaramel
  • D!P
  • Reynolds Cocktails

BUSINESS GROWTH AWARD

  • A G D Duff and Partners Ltd
  • Amity Fish Company Ltd
  • Auchmaliddie Mains Beef and Lamb
  • Mackie’s of Scotland

TEAM OF THE YEAR

  • Amity Fish Company Ltd
  • Raw Culture and Singularity Sauce Co
  • Scottish Pig Producers
  • Walker’s Shortbread

RISING STAR OF THE YEAR

  • Luke Burnett, Marshall’s Farm Shop
  • Fraser Chapman, ANM Group
  • Emma Irvine, Rora Dairy
  • Leona Rhind, Dean’s of Huntly Ltd

MOST INNOVATIVE BUSINESS

  • Associated Seafoods
  • Brew Toon
  • Mackie’s of Scotland
  • Raw Culture
  • Singularity Sauce Co

Best New Food Product

  • Amity Fish Company Ltd – Fish Pie
  • Balmoral Game – Venison Kofta
  • Kincardine Castle Kitchen – Seeded Rye Crackers with Scottish Sea Salt and Olive Oil
  • Maclean’s Bakery – Maclean’s Luxury Highland Bakery All Butter Scottish Shortbread Selection 400g
  • Mearns Marmalades – Heather Honeyed Red Grapefruit Marmalade
  • Singularity Sauce Co – Buffalo Hot Sauce

Best New Drink Product (Low or No)

  • Brew Toon – St Clement’s Radler – Brew Toon x Summerhouse Drinks
  • Burnside Brewery – Wayfinder
  • Figment Coffee Company Limited – Beanstalk: Home Compostable, Specialty Coffee Pods by Figment Coffee
  • Raw Culture Ltd – Raw Culture reimagined!

Best New Drink Product

  • Ellon Spirit Company – Ellon Spirits – Sloe Gin
  • Fierce Beer – Fierce Cerveza 4pk
  • Little Brown Dog Spirits – Aberdeenshire Foraged Gin – Unlimited Edition
  • Little Brown Dog Spirits – Wee Mongrel Blended Rum
  • Lost Loch Spirits – Cutaway Rum
  • Reynolds Cocktails – Single Serve Cocktail Pouches & Christmas Gift Boxes

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