Prestigious food and drink awards for Courier Country businesses

Strathearn Gin being made the Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire
Strathearn Gin being made the Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire

Courier Country businesses were amongst the 25 winners at the prestigious Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards 2017 on Thursday night.

A record number of 820 guests attended Scotland’s food and drink ‘Oscars’, held in Edinburgh’s International Conference Centre.

Meigle-based Bruce Farms  enjoyed a double celebration by winning primary producer of the year and overall business of the year.

Bruce Farms © Supplied
Bruce Farms

The Bruce family has been farming in Perthshire for four generations and is a trusted supplier to a number of the world’s most respected food and retail brands including Birds Eye, Ribena and Marks & Spencer, as well as their own-label Bruce brand of soft fruits.

Errol-based Mackie’s at Taypack Ltd, which exports its crisps to 20 countries, won export business of the year, while Liam Pennycook of Strathearn Distillery, Methven, won the Young Talent award.

 Mackie's at Taypack (Mackie's of Scotland), Inchloonans, near Errol. Official opening of new crisp factory © DC Thomson
Mackie’s at Taypack (Mackie’s of Scotland), Inchloonans, near Errol. Official opening of new crisp factory

There was also success for the family-run Little Herb Farm, near St Andrews, Fife, which won the Savouries and Accompaniment category while Graham’s the family dairy won the dairy award.

The annual awards, hosted by chef and TV Personality Simon Rimmer, are organised by Scotland Food & Drink and run in partnership with The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), with Asda as headline sponsor.

Lindsey Anderson of The Little Herb Farm
Lindsey Anderson of The Little Herb Farm in Fife

The 25 category winners spanned the whole of the sector.

The other winners included l’escargot restaurants owned by Chef Fred Berkmiller for ‘Scottish Sourcing’, Paterson Arran Ltd for ‘Environmental Sustainability’, Peelham Farm Produce for ‘Meat’, Mara Seaweed for ‘Healthy Choice’ and Fusion Whisky Ltd for ‘Success Through Partnership’.

Other special recognition awards were Product of the Year (Whisky Nibs from Chocolate Tree), and Outstanding Contribution (Alastair Dobson, Taste of Arran).

L'Escargot Bleu owner Fred Berkmuller with snails from the Barra Oyster Company
L’Escargot Bleu owner Fred Berkmuller with snails from the Barra Oyster Company

James Withers, CEO Scotland Food & Drink, said: “Congratulations to all winners. With the new food and drink strategy, ‘Ambition 2030’ we are aiming to double the industry’s worth to the value of £30 billion by 2030, so it was fantastic to see new start-ups as well as established businesses come out on top.

“The industry is constantly growing, but there is always room for young pioneers, innovative products and enterprising businesses, and it’s this that will help us achieve Ambition 2030.

“Scotland is home to some of the most innovative producers and these awards give us the chance to celebrate this. Thanks to all those who entered this year, and I hope to see you back there next year.”

New for this year were the categories of Brewing (winner: Stewart Brewing Ltd) and Distilling (winner: Loch Ness Spirits Ltd), highlighting Scotland’s expansion into the flourishing spirits market.

Inline with current industry trends, an Own Label category was also added, crowning Aldi winner for their Specially Selected Orkney Caramel Shortbread.

Keith Brooke, Chairman of RHASS said: “Championing the best comes second nature to The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) which is why we are proud to be a supporter of these awards.  Congratulations to the winners – it is a huge achievement and one to relish as getting to this stage is no doubt the result of significant hard work and skill particularly when you see the standard of the companies shortlisted this year.”

John Swinney MSP opens new crisp factory Mackie's at Taypack (Mackie's of Scotland), © DC Thomson
John Swinney MSP opens new crisp factory Mackie’s at Taypack (Mackie’s of Scotland),

The 2017 awards received 272 entries across all categories, a record number on previous years. Category sponsorship was welcomed from a range of influential businesses including Sodexo, Johnston Carmichael, The Grocer, CalMac, Quality Meat Scotland and Heriot Watt University.

The full list of 2017 winners were:-

Savouries & Accompaniments Award – The Little Herb Farm (Tayberry & Sage Vinegar Dressing);

Dairy Award – Graham’s the Family Dairy (Graham’s the Family Dairy Gold Smooth);

Bakery Award – Borders Biscuits (Dark chocolate gingers & orange);

Scotch brand product of the year – Aldi (specially selected Scotch 30-day matured Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak);

Meat – Peelham Farm Produce (Organice air-dried smoked juniper mutton);

Fish & seafood – Loch Fyne Oysters (Kinglas Fillet);

Confectionary, Drinks & snacking – Chocolate Tree (Whisky Nibs);

Whisky nibs © Supplied
Whisky nibs

Brewing – Stewart Brewing Ltd (Radical Road);

Distilling – Loch Ness Spirits Ltd (Loch Ness gin);

Foodservice product of the year – Loch Duart Ltd (Loch Duart Salmon)

Healthy choice – Mara Seaweed (Furikake);

Own Label – Aldi (specially selected Orkney Caramel Shortbread)

Primary Producer of the Year – Bruce Farms;

Scottish Sourcing – l’escargot restaurants;

Brand Success of the Year – Pickering’s Gin;

Export Business of the Year – Mackie’s at Taypack;

Success through Partnership – Fusion Whisky Ltd;

Environmental Sustainability – Paterson Arran Ltd;

Employer of the Year: Investing in Skills – Entier;

Young Talent – Liam Pennycook, Strathearn Distillery

Entrepreneur of the Year – Euan Beaton, MacDuff Shellfish Scotland Ltd;

Food Pioneer – Graham Suttle, Kained Holdings;

Product of the Year – Chocolate Tree (Whisky Nibs);

Business of the Year – Bruce Farms;

Outstanding Contribution – Alasdair Dobson, Taste of Arran.

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