Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2007: Best in show

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Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2007: Best in show
The very best in UK food manufacture was recognised in a glittering awards ceremony held at The Marriott, Grosvenor Square in London on November 7. A...

The very best in UK food manufacture was recognised in a glittering awards ceremony held at The Marriott, Grosvenor Square in London on November 7. A record number of entries this year meant that competition was particularly tough, so congratulations to Food Manufacture​’s Excellence Award Winners.

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Food Manufacture​ Company of the Year

This coveted title goes to the overall winner, selected from the individual category winners. Demonstrating all round manufacturing excellence, this company has truly proved itself to be the best in the business.

Winner:​ Arla Foods UK

This dairy giant supplies around 25% of the total British fresh liquid milk market, processing over 2bn litres of milk each year. “I was impressed by the sheer volume of what Arla does,” said one judge. The firm has demonstrated excellence in category management, even nabbing the top spot in the margarine sector. “Getting Lurpack ahead of Flora by marketing yellow fats was an amazing feat,” said the judges.

The company also impressed the judges with its achievements in the free-from market. The dairy identified a gap in the market for a lactose-free cows’ milk and developed Lactofree using a technique patented by Arla. Since its launch, the brand value of Lactofree is estimated at £2.419M and sales have reached over 1.9Ml.

Food Manufacture​ Personality of the Year

The Food Manufacture​ Excellence Awards have been recognising excellence in food manufacturing companies for six years. But we have never celebrated the people at the top of these businesses until now. This title has been awarded to an individual who has made the most significant contribution to the sector over the last year.


  • Ian Blackburn, chief executive, Zetar
  • Helen Colley, md, Farmhouse Fayre
  • Martin Davey, chairman, Cranswick
  • Preet Grewal and Praveen Vijh, founders, Eat Natural
  • Robert Schofield, chief execuive, Premier Foods
  • Jonathan Warburton, chairman, Warburtons
  • Dave Woodward, president, Heinz UK & Ireland

Winner:​Helen Colley, managing director, Farmhouse Fayre

Helen Colley hit the headlines by securing a listing at Tesco when she stood up at a conference and asked Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy why he didn't stock her puddings. It is her upfront attitude that won her so many votes and her commitment to the puddings firm is phenomenal.The business has now been snapped up by Daniels Chilled Foods, but Colley remains md and continues to explore new opportunities at the premium end of the market, in a bid to double turnover over the next three years.

Ambient and General Groceries

Shortlisted: General Mills UK, HJ Heinz, Manchester Rusk Company and Tyrrells Potato Chips

Winner:​ Manchester Rusk Company

It may be a small firm, but Manchester Rusk certainly has big ambitions for growth. The company has a fast track development team, and aims to launch two new products to market on an annual basis for the next three years. “My heart went out to Manchester Rusk Company,” said one judge. “The company has demonstrated impressive growth and great key performance indicators.”


Shortlisted: Bells of Lazonby, Butt Foods, Giles Foods and Johnstones Bakeries

Winner:​Bells of Lazonby

The company’s new OK Foods brand targeted at the free-from market has achieved 66% growth, which has led to an increase in listings for OK from seven to 25. “Bells of Lazonby is an innovative family company making impressive inroads into the allergen-free category,” said the judges.

Chilled Ready Meals and Prepared Foods

Shortlisted: Bighams, Greencore Prepared Foods, Pasta King and Samworth Brothers

Winner:​ Pasta King

Specialist supplier of pasta and pasta sauces to the foodservice sector, 85% of Pasta King’s meals are sold into schools, colleges and universities across the UK. The company has increased its market share in state secondary schools by 10% and experienced a 66% increase in uptake of product in schools supplied by the firm. “The group has seen an amazing sales increase,” said one judge. “NPD-wise, I love the idea of hidden vegetables in children’s pasta products.”


Shortlisted: Arla Foods UK, The Cheese Company, Wyke Farms and Yeo Valley Organic

Winner:​ Arla Foods UK

Arla really impressed the judges with its 300 tonne packaging reduction and the panel also praised the dairy’s staff training scheme. “The firm’s people development scheme was very structured,” they said. “There was good demonstrable continuous improvement at Arla - it was a clear winner.”

Fresh Produce

Shortlisted: English Village Salads, R B Organic, Southern Salads and Stubbins Marketing

Winner:​Stubbins Marketing

In order to ensure all opportunities within the firm’s category were exploited, Stubbins conducted range and gap analysis, which resulted in range and design changes to address the shortfall in premium product sales. The judges felt that the team had done a super job in working with retailers to better understand them. “Stubbins’ ethical trading and integrated objectives with majors were really strong,” they said.

Frozen Foods

Shortlisted: Fredericks Dairies, Greencore Frozen Foods, Green Gourmet and McCain Foods

Winner:​Green Gourmet

The judges felt that the company was making a great effort to create healthier foods for children and was particularly impressed with its Scoolcrumb non-flash-fried breadcrumb coating. “Green Gourmet is doing something different - it’s pushing all the right buttons in trying to address nutritional issues for kids,” they said.

Meat and Poultry

Shortlisted: Challenger Foods, Dalehead Foods, Esca Food Solutions and Scotbeef

Winner:​Esca Food Solutions

Esca’s submission came across as very polished and the judges felt that the quality of the firm’s products was superb. “To achieve the standards to get such high levels of performance and quality is exceptional, particularly when serving such a demanding customer as McDonald’s,” they said.


Shortlisted: Lossie Seafoods, Shetland Seafish and The Big Prawn Company

Winner:​Lossie Seafoods

The panel loved Lossie’s approach to teambuilding and felt that this had an extremely positive effect on employees’ attitude to work. “Lossie’s marketing and new product development were strong areas and I think that staff golf and barbeque events really boost team morale and ensure low absenteeism,” said one judge. The company’s efforts to research different business practices were also praised.

Judges Special Award

Whilst the category winners are chosen for excellence across a range of criteria, The Judges Special Award rewards the entrant demonstrating outstanding achievement in one particular area of activity.

Winner:​ Yeo Valley Organic

The judges described the firm as a “world-class leader” and felt that its new product development work was highly commendable. The panel were big fans of the firm’s organic yoghurt in a tube aimed at children. “Yeo Valley Organic is a truly world-class company, which takes a holistic approach to business and clearly has tremendous new product development credentials,” said the judges. “This entry demonstrates that the company puts its money where its mouth is,” they added.

Small Company of the Year

In a world where biggest is often viewed as best, Food Manufacture feels it is important to acknowledge the achievements of smaller firms, which is why the Small Company of the Year award has been introduced.

Winner:​Pasta King UK

Despite reports that many catering suppliers are struggling to deliver school meals in the higher quality standards, the company has seen sales turnover soar. Over the last 12 months sales have risen 50% from £5.9M to £9M. “Pasta King has carved a market in the school meals sector, which is a really cut throat business and it’s got impressive key performance indicators,” said the judges.

The Food Manufacture​ Skills Excellence Awards


Shortlisted: Ken Laurie from Grampian Country Food Group, Jonathan Pearson from Schwans Consumer Brands UK and Craig Riches from Banham Poultry

Winner:​Craig Riches from Banham Poultry

The judges were really impressed with the way Craig Riches’ career has developed and felt him a very deserving winner. “There was good evidence of job progression in this entry - from part time forklift driver in 2000, to team leader when the apprenticeship commenced,” said one judge. “It’s great to see people reaching their full potential.”

Productivity Through Skills

Shortlisted: International Cuisine, Loch Fyne Oysters and The Glenmorangie Company

Winner:​International Cuisine

In order to help workers develop their managerial skills and increase their confidence, individuals at International Cuisine are given additional responsibilities, such as the opportunity to practice deputising for their manager or team leader when that person is on holiday. “International Cuisine makes a great practice story. The firm has taken a very cultural approach to lean manufacture and the entry showed impressive stats,” said the judges.

Diversity in Recruitment

Shortlisted: Fosters Bakery (Staincross), Memory Lane Cakes and R&R Ice Cream UK

Winner:​Fosters Bakery (Staincross)

The judges felt that the company had taken a “proactive” approach, in adopting a strategy to deal with local community issues. The bakery has participated in the ‘Entry to Employment’ scheme through Barnsley College and also offers opportunities for ex-offenders that have just been released from prison, as well as those in open-prison. “This is a well integrated story with lots of energy and action on different fronts,” said the judges.

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