The winners of the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards were announced at a glittering awards ceremony at the Ardoe House Hotel, Aberdeen, where 290 people attended the sell-out event to watch host Stephen Jardine congratulate those who picked up a prize in the 12 award categories.
The awards, which are delivered in partnership with Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeenshire Council, seek to highlight the diversity of this ever-growing industry, recognise undisputed talent in innovation, skills development and entrepreneurialism, and celebrate new products in the retail, foodservice and brewing and distilling.
Winners of the 2018 awards included; Balvenie St. Ice Cream (Best New Retail Product), The Lost Loch Distillery (Best New Brewed or Distilled Product), rora dairy (Best New Foodservice Product), Wooha Brewing (Best Young Business), Duncan Farms (Investing in Skills Development and Innovation) and Glen Garioch Distillery (Best Food & Drink Tourism Experience).
Gregor Mackintosh, Founder of Mackintosh of Glendaveny and producer of Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, was awarded the coveted North East Scotland Food & Drink Entrepreneur 2018 title, for demonstrating his entrepreneurial flair.
The judges felt he had taken some significant risks over the last 12 months by investing in plant and equipment which had allowed the business to take a major step forward in capacity, resulting in a significant contract to be awarded by a major multiple retailer.
Pat Machray, chairman of Opportunity North East’s Food, Drink & Agriculture Board, said: “Last night was about celebrating our food and drink community and I congratulate all the winners and finalists and those that took the time to enter.
"The record number of entries this year and the number of new businesses applying for the first time signal the sector’s ambition and entrepreneurial spirit and we would encourage others to enter in future.
“These awards promote North East Scotland’s food and drink industry, which is a sector of national significance. At ONE, we see food, drink and agriculture at the heart of our future economy.
"We want to ensure we have a pipeline of start-ups and growing companies to provide new employment across the region. That growth will come from innovation in product development and reach across UK and international markets. We have outstanding primary produce here and we have to add value and command a premium for that by identifying the right market opportunities. We are very ambitious for the sector and see real potential to scale-up established businesses and build new businesses with international ambitions.”
Head of economic development & protective services with Aberdeenshire Council, Belinda Miller, said: “Food and drink businesses have a vital role to play in our economy today and in the years to come. This year’s awards showcase the very best our area has to offer in terms of innovation, quality produce and pride in our region, helping put North East Scotland on the international stage.
Miller added that North East Scotland has an excellent base for growth in food, drink, agriculture and seafood, with its wide range of primary produce, new businesses, big name brands and international connections.
The food, drink and agriculture sector now plays a significant part of the region’s
economy, directly employing more than 22,000 people. Excluding the whisky sector, it contributes an estimated 20 per cent of Scotland’s food and drink industry output.