Companies across the region are being urged to seize the opportunity to promote their products and businesses by entering this year’s Highlands & Islands Food and Drink Awards.
The Awards, now in their ninth year and sporting a fresh new logo and website, recognise and reward the businesses which are displaying best practice, achieving exceptional standards and pushing boundaries in a key growth industry sector.
Awards organisers, the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum, are now keen to see operators of all types and sizes in the Highlands and Islands enter a range of categories, including the New Business Award, Healthier Food & Drink Award, New Product Award, Environment Award, Development of Export Markets and Restaurant of the Year.
New for 2013 is the Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by Johnston Carmichael which recognises outstanding achievement by an individual in the food and drink industry in the Highlands and Islands.
The Awards also recognise the younger members of the industry who show potential, enthusiasm and promise with the Young Shining Star Award. The Ambassador of the Year, meanwhile, is chosen by industry leaders and announced on the night.
Supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Awards are the region’s most prestigious food and drinks awards, celebrating excellence and achievement in the industry and recognising industry players at the top of their game.
Iain Sutherland, Senior Development Manager for Food and Drink at HIE, said: "In this Year of Natural Scotland, it is particularly fitting that we celebrate those who make the most of Scotland's natural larder. The food and drink producers from across the Highlands and Islands are second to none in their innovation and creativity.
“The products which hail from our region - from the finest whisky, seafood, confectionery and baking, amongst many others - are renowned around the world for their quality. These awards are in recognition of the hard work, energy and skill our producers put in every day in order to build on that reputation and each business makes its contribution to our local and national economies. At Highlands and Islands Enterprise, we look forward to seeing the entries and supporting the awards for another year.”
Jock Gibson, who recently joined the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards Committee said: “Our region should be proud of its contribution to Scotland’s food and drink industry and we want to see more producers and businesses shouting about the outstanding quality of their products. We want to show off to the wider industry that the Highlands and Islands is home to some of the most innovative businesses in the food and drink sector.
“In 2012, several new categories were introduced to extend the reach of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, opening them up to more companies than ever before and making them more inclusive. We want to build on that and help raise the profile of the hard-working individuals whose passion and commitment drives our industry.”
Jock, whose butchers’ business Macbeth’s of Forres won Best Marketing Initiative in 2012, added: “Winning an award last year has been fantastic for us as we were able to benefit from the wide-ranging publicity surrounding the event, both in the run-up to the Awards dinner in October and afterwards.
“Entering the awards is a good exercise in itself as it helps you focus on your strengths and pinpoint areas of improvements – and it’s good for staff morale. The Awards Dinner is also a fantastic networking opportunity, particularly for those who are in more remote locations and don’t often get the chance to meet like-minded colleagues.”
Entries are now open until Wednesday, 5th June. Further information on award categories and how to enter can be found at www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com.
The shortlisted finalists will be announced in mid-September and full details of the Awards Dinner & Ceremony will be announced in due course.