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North East Scotland Food & Drink awards make a welcome return

By David Porter

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Food and drink businesses have successfully responded to rapidly-changing customer and market demands and consumer behaviour over the past two years as the industry navigated unprecedented challenges and opportunities driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The adaptability and innovation demonstrated by north-east Scotland’s industry-leading food and drink manufacturing businesses will be recognised in the sector’s benchmark awards this year.

The 2022 North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards have launched today with two new categories reflecting the fast-evolving industry.

The additional awards – E-commerce Success and Operational Excellence – will celebrate innovative businesses that have developed digital routes to market and grown their online sales and highlight significant gains in productivity and sustainability achieved through process change, digital transformation, advanced manufacturing and low-carbon production.

The 2022 Awards comprise of 12 categories overall, ranging from Best New Product (Emerging Business) to Best Distilled Product.

They are open to all food and drink producers based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray and are free to enter.

Delivered in partnership by Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeenshire Council, the Awards showcase the products and achievements of food and drink producers in the region of all sizes and at all stages.

Entries are welcomed from established and new businesses and recognise the achievements and successes of the entrepreneurial food and drink community that continues to innovate and grow despite the challenges of recent years..

The sector employs more than 22,000 people in north-east Scotland and turns over more than £2.2 billion a year.

Opportunity North East’s action and investment with industry and partners aims to put the region at the forefront of low-carbon, sustainable food and drink production, premium market development, and product and process innovation.

Stanley Morrice chairs the food, drink and agriculture board at Opportunity North East.

He said:“Our region is synonymous with premium food and drink from land and sea.

"Agile, enterprising and innovative food and drink businesses from industry leaders to scaling businesses and ambitious new starts have brought new products to market and grown their sales, connected with customers and consumers via new channels, and enhanced their low-carbon production to contribute to net-zero targets over the past two years.

“The 2022 Awards are a great chance for businesses to demonstrate how they have successfully addressed the opportunities and challenges of the fast-changing food and drink market.

"They recognise individual and collective achievements and increase awareness of products among buyers.

"We look forward to sharing some of the producers’ success stories with the sector and wider community and marking the contribution made by everyone who works in the industry,” said Stanley.

Food and drink is a priority sector in the Aberdeenshire Council Economic Development Strategy, which aims to create the conditions for sustainable economic growth, diversification and regeneration within Aberdeenshire and the wider region by attracting and supporting businesses.

Councillor Peter Argyle, deputy leader and chair of the Aberdeenshire Council infrastructure services committee said: “Food and drink is such an important and growing area of our diversifying local economy and it’s great to see these awards return for 2022.

"They will help us all celebrate the best of what’s on offer in Aberdeenshire and the rest of the north-east of Scotland.

"Businesses across the region are leading the way in terms of innovation, sustainability and technology so it’s important to encourage and promote that to the wider industry, to share ideas and best practice, further strengthening our leadership in the sector.

"Food and drink manufacturing and production are key growth areas and we are happy to be able to partner with ONE again to recognise particular successes in the industry and increase the profile of Aberdeenshire producers, coming from an area with real talent and significant successes to celebrate.”

Rachel Gambro is one of Scotland’s Regional Food Tourism Ambassadors and judge of the Best Food & Drink Tourism Experience category.

Rachel said: “Food and drink production is an essential part of north east Scotland’s economy, worth £2.2bn and employing 22,000 within the region.

"I am delighted to undertake the role of ambassador for the region and am very much looking forward to seeing the range of brilliant work that will be submitted to the Awards this year.”

Entries should be made via the website – www.nesfoodanadrinkawards.co.uk – which also contains guidance and support.

The closing date is Monday, March 7 and winners will be announced at an awards presentation dinner on Thursday, June 9 at the Chester Hotel, Aberdeen.

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