At the top of the food chain

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At the top of the food chain
The deadline for Food Manufacture's Excellence Awards, which are free to enter and celebrate the very best in food and drink manufacture, has been extended until Monday August 3. Make sure your company doesn't miss out! To download an entry form, visit

Tesco's bakery category director Scott Clarke announced recently that "food pricing is now the number one priority for consumers". He then went on to say that as we emerged from the recession, he hoped customers would return to looking for quality and exciting new product development.

In these two simple comments, Clarke summed up the major dilemma facing food manufacturers across the board at the moment: how do you become more efficient and take out costs while still being innovative and making products that excite consumers' imaginations and taste buds?

Then there are the issues that have been created by the current financial crisis. These include the reluctance of many banks to lend money, as they respond to a particularly demanding financial environment by becoming more risk averse. And on top of that there are the problems that many companies face in obtaining credit insurance.

It is precisely in such troubled times that the wheat gets separated from the chaff; that the really great firms prove just what differentiates them from those that are just run of the mill. And, as most entrepreneurs would concur, it's when times are tough that the best opportunities to excel often emerge.

So, what better time to prove your mettle by entering the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, which are all about celebrating the cream of the crop?

But you'll need to hurry as the deadline for entries is close approaching.

The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards celebrate the professionalism, innovative spirit and 'can-do attitude' of this remarkable industry in all its myriad forms.

Now in their ninth year, they are firmly established on the food industry's calendar. They include nine individual sector categories and three skills excellence awards:

Awards categories

Ambient and General Groceries

Bakery and Confectionery

Chilled Ready Meals and Prepared Foods


Fresh Produce

Frozen Foods

Hot and Cold Beverages

Meat and Poultry


Skills Excellence Award


Diversity in Recruitment

Productivity through Skills

From the nine sector category winners, the Food Manufacture Company of the Year will be selected. Last year this went to Greencore Chilled Soups and Sauces for its outstanding record of achievement.

Our eminent panel of judges (see page 29) will also make a Judges' Special Award to the company which, in the panel's opinion, deserves special recognition for one particular area of the company's activities over the past year. Premier Foods picked up the award last year for its Carlton bakery in Barnsley, which was singled out for its environmental initiatives.

Judging for the individual categories is based on a range of criteria covering: category management; marketing and new product development; supply chain improvement; quality assurance; health, safety and environmental management; process innovation; and human resources development.

In recognition of the importance of small companies to the industry, we will again be looking to make an award to Small Company of the Year - typically one employing fewer than 100 people in total and with a turnover of less than £10M a year. In 2008 the Small Company award went to Mash Direct of Northern Ireland, which proved itself a shining example of product innovation.

Once again, Food Manufacture readers will also be able to vote for their Personality of the Year via an online poll (visit from our shortlist of candidates (see page 40). Last year's winner was Philip McIvor, a man of true passion who had run Farmhouse Biscuits since 1963 and proved a very popular choice.

To enter the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards or the Skills Excellence Awards visit our website at to download entry forms. Alternatively, telephone Emma Hooper on 01293 610431 or email Please remember that the closing date for entries is August 3.

Last year's winners

Food Manufacture Company of the Year 2008:

Greencore Chilled Soups and Sauces

Food Manufacture Personality of the Year 2008:

Philip McIvor, Farmhouse Biscuits

Ambient and general groceries:

Greencore Grocery

Bakery & confectionery:

Peter's Food Service

Hot & cold beverages:

Aimia Foods

Chilled ready meals & prepared foods:

Greencore Chilled Sauces and Soups



Fresh produce:

Stubbins Marketing

Frozen Foods:

Greencore Frozen Foods

Meat, poultry & seafood:

Lossie Seafoods

Small Company of the Year:

Mash Direct

Judges Special Award: Premier Foods

Skills Excellence Awards Apprenticeships:

Natalie Scott, Premier Foods

Diversity in Recruitment:

Gibsons Foods

Productivity Through Skills:

Greencore Group

The Judging panels

Food Manufacture Excellence Awards Judges:

Chair of judges: Paul Wilkinson, chairman Big Bear, Produce World and Improve

Steve Adams, general manager, North London Operations, Coca-Cola Enterprises

Jonathan Bayne, technical development controller, Musgrave Retail Partners GB

Sandy Birnie, chairman, Sayers/Sandy Birnie Ltd

Mark Colvin, lean manufacturing consultant, Leanpal

Jean Feord, independent consultant

Charlotte Henderson, head of retail supply chain, Waste & Resources Action Programme

Bob Marsh, md, Food Processing Faraday

Alice Pegg, head of food innovation, Leatherhead Food International

Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture

Alan Speight, food consultant, Food Solutions Associates

Andy Spooner, director, Suiko WCS

Kevin Swoffer, KPS Resources

Andy Underwood, commercial director, The Authentic Food Company

Food Manufacture Excellence Skills Awards Judges:

Paul Chapman, Improve

Rick Pendrous, Food Manufacture

Derek Williams, Improve

>> Visit the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards web site

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