The 2016 Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards

Ambassador of the Year Award

This special award recognises the outstanding contribution in the Highlands & Islands food and drink industry, be they male or female, young or old. The award celebrates and pays tribute to the hard work, commitment, dedication, passion and innovation demonstrated within the sector. This year, this award will be open to public nominations until August, with the Awards Steering Group casting the final vote.

Winner: Willie Cameron

Sponsor: Caledonian Sleeper

Best Drink Award

The judges will be looking for a business, big or small, that can demonstrate success in the alcoholic and/or soft drinks market; a commitment to locally sourced products where possible; robust processes and research that led to the product(s) being created in the first place; a sound marketing strategy for sustainability.

Winner: Tomatin Single Malt Core Range

Sponsors: JBT Distribution; ParceLinQ

Best Eatery Award

This award has been created specifically to include those eateries, e.g. a café, bistro, deli, gastropub, takeaway or visitor attraction serving food, etc., who deserve to be recognised but not against those who class themselves solely as ‘restaurants’. These establishments should be able to demonstrate the most innovative and consistent use of produce from food or drink suppliers in the region, great tasting food, outstanding service levels, value for money, return custom and a pleasant environment.

Winner: Corner on the Square

Highly Commended: Gordon Castle Scotland

Best Marketing Initiative Award

If you devise and implement a successful marketing campaign, your business should reap the rewards with greater sales, return custom and a rising profile that is the envy of your competitors. This award is for businesses that can demonstrate a clear marketing objective that has been put into practice and delivered with tangible results showing creativity, innovation and imagination during 2015/2016.

Winner: FAO27

Highly Commended: Applecross Smokehouse

Sponsor: Bidvest

Environment Award

The environment has a huge impact on the quality of the region’s food and drink. This award recognises businesses that use good environmental practice in the production and distribution of food and drink products or services, and that have reduced the environmental impacts associated with their business.

Winner: Wester Ross Fisheries

Highly Commended: Loch Fyne Oysters

Sponsor: Boxshop

Excellence Award

This special award is reserved by the judging panel to recognise and reward excellence in any category of for one particular entry. It is not open for general entry – candidates were selected by the judging panel from entries received across all categories.

Winner: Gordon Castle Scotland

Sponsor: Gordon & MacPhail

Export Award

Developing your customer base is essential for growing a sustainable business and this award seeks to recognise progress in this field, through export markets. This category is for businesses operating in international markets, perhaps overcoming geographical difficulties such as serving or working from a remote area or developing effective communication strategies to cope with multilingual markets, etc.

Winner: Associated Seafoods

Sponsor: XPO Logistics

Food & Drink Business Growth Award

The Food & Drink Business Growth Award is open to any business/business owner of a food and drink business whose head office (or the business) is located in The Highlands & Islands and Cairngorms National Park Authority area. Businesses were judged in areas of performance, focus, strategic planning, innovation and leadership.

Winner: Coast and Glen - Fishbox

Highly Commended: Salar Smokehouse & Scottish Salmon Company

Sponsor: Johnston Carmichael

Healthier Food and Drink Award

This award recognises food and drink based businesses, caterers and retailers, products or services that have demonstrated a strong commitment to developing, incorporating and promoting good nutrition and healthy eating qualities into its product or services, a marketing campaign supporting healthier eating choices or by introducing a healthy eating culture into its business or establishment.

Winner: Juicy-Ness

Independent Food & Drink Retailer of the Year Award

Without retailers, many of the wonderful products created and produced in the region would remain unseen or perhaps not exist in the first place! To help celebrate those independent retailers fighting for their place amongst the chains, supermarkets and ‘big boys’ of the high street and internet, this category is open to all food and drink retailers within the region, both those with a shop front, those solely trading online and those who do both. Examples include farm shops, delis, fruit farms, butchers, corner shops.

Winner: The Cheese House, Cromarty

Innovation Award

It is globally recognised that innovation is key to business growth. In Scotland there is now a consensus of opinion that innovation is much broader than technology or the development of new inventions. It is simply the commercial exploitation of ideas. The inclusion of innovation in the work place, working practices, procurement, developing skills, reducing carbon foot prints, reducing inequality and service innovation are now seen as areas where real impact can be achieved. This award will reflect all of the above. Entrants must demonstrate that since 1st January 2015 they have taken a step change in their business in: product research, overcome a technical challenge and/or development in the food supply chain e.g. developing new ingredients to cut waste or improved yield.

Winner: Gordon Castle Scotland

Sponsor: Highlands and Islands Enterprise

New Business Award

This Award is for a new business, started since 1st January 2014. A producer, a retailer or foodservice outlet displaying excellence in the use of local food and drink products or a service provider contributing significantly to the success of the sector. Judges were looking for businesses they felt had great potential to further contribute to the local food and drink economy or further enhance the perception of the region’s food and drink.

Winner: High St Merchants

Sponsor: Bank of Scotland

New Product Award

The rich variety of products available from Highlands and Islands’ businesses is one of the industry’s strengths. In this category the judges are looking for outstanding new products that have been brought to market (domestic or international) since 1st January 2015 and which demonstrate both initial market success and ongoing potential, creativity, imaginative use of ingredients, a unique selling point, application of new technologies or marketing strategies. New for 2016, this award will be split into Food and Drink.

Winner: Food - Stockan's Oatcakes | Drink - Dunnet Bay Distillers Holy Grass Vodka

Sponsor: Scotland Food & Drink

Restaurant of the Year Award

This award is given to the restaurant that can demonstrate the most innovative and consistent use of produce from food or drink suppliers in the region, great tasting food, outstanding service levels and a pleasant environment. Entry is open to all eating establishments in the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area who classed themselves as a ‘restaurant’, either by size, number of covers, menu choices & price or any other criteria.

Winner: Isle of Eriska Hotel Restaurant

Highly Commended: The Cross at Kingussie

Sponsor: MacGregor Industrial Supplies

Young Shining Star Award

This award recognises a young person’s outstanding contribution and achievement in the Highlands and Islands food and drink sector, celebrating their commitment, passion and work to develop the industry in the region, their outstanding qualities and potential. The award was open to any person aged between 16 and 25 on 9th May 2016. Individual could either enter themselves or be nominated by an employer, colleague, mentor etc.

Winner: Andrew Fraser, West Ross Fisheries

Sponsor: Brook Street

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