Three Fife businesses have won prestigious Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2016.
The Buffalo Farm at Auchtertool, near Kirkcaldy, won an award for its Buffalo Fillet Steak in the meat category (sponsored by Asda).
Ivan Wood & Sons, the fruit and vegetable wholesaler based at Ballingry, won the Environmental Sustainability Award (sponsored by Zero Waste Scotland).
And Daniel Sherry of Eden Mill, Guardbridge, won the Young Talent Award (sponsored by the Scottish Food and Drink Federation – A Future in Food).
The awards were presented in front of a sell-out audience of 800 guests at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Thursday night.
Guests included Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing, and Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers.
In all, 20 business were selected from 245 entries across Scotland and announced as winners.
Award-winning products ranged from seaweed flakes, macarons and buffalo steak, to apple juice, muesli and piccalilli.
Businesses of all sizes were recognised from established businesses like Graham’s the Family Dairy, Stoats and Aldi (a joint entry with The Natural Fruit & Beverage Company) to smaller producers like Macamoon, Millers Larder and Cuddybridge Apple Juice.
Nine product-focused categories were judged by a thorough process, which included the scrutiny of packaging, quality of product and taste. In the course of their assessment of the entries, the judges sampled 165 Scottish products ranging from salmon and charcuterie, to lemonade and whisky.
The awards were announced by presenter of C4’s Sunday Brunch, Simon Rimmer and also highlighted business excellence, innovation and best practice across the Scottish food and drink industry.
Other categories included Export Businesses of the Year sponsored by Bank of Scotland (won by Associated Seafoods Ltd) and Scottish Food & Drink Entrepreneur sponsored by Johnston Carmichael (won by William J Walker of Benriach Distillery Co. Ltd).
A surprise award, sponsored by the Scottish Government, was presented by new Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing to Jim Walker of Walkers for his outstanding contribution to the food and drink industry.
The award recognised his work developing the family business from a village bakery operating only in Speyside to an international brand, marketed in more than 80 widely spread overseas markets.
The dinner menu at the awards ceremony showcased Scotland’s fantastic larder including produce from previous winners and finalists such as canapés created with Native Hebridean Salmon from The Scottish Salmon Company.
The meal began with a starter of potted Cullen Skink served with Galloway Lodge Chutney and finished with a Perthshire Heather Honey and Stirlingshire Cream Bavarois.
Locally sourced ingredients including vegetables, rapeseed oil, cheese, fish and meat featured throughout.
Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive James Withers said: “Congratulations to all winners and finalists who have been selected from a record number of entries by our panel of more than 35 judges. They recognise the people, products and practices which make Scotland a Land of Food and Drink and represent the wealth of our industry from artisan producers to established brands.
“Welcoming 800 people to the sold out awards ceremony and dinner is testament to the success of the sector. This flagship event is a great opportunity to take stock of success to date and to look ahead to the future as we shape the industry’s strategy to 2030.
“There has been a revolution in food and drink in Scotland and the awards show why that is. We have an amazing mix of established world-class business and a new generation of entrepreneurs coming through. Crucially, there is now a culture of collaboration in Scotland – industry bodies and companies working together to build our reputation and our sales. Challenges are never far away, but the opportunities for growth and innovation over the next few years are hugely exciting.”
Willie Gill, Chairman of the RHASS said: “Tonight we were reminded why this industry is soon going to be worth £16.5billion to the Scottish economy. There is a wealth of talent in those shortlists but, most importantly, they all have bags of enthusiasm for our natural larder, grown in Scotland’s rich and fertile earth and seas and nurtured by our primary producers, who we are proud to represent.”