Food and drink manufacturers celebrate success

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Manufacturing

The food and drink industry's finest celebrated their achievement last night
The food and drink industry's finest celebrated their achievement last night
The best of the best. Nothing less was celebrated last night at the Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards.

In a gala celebration at the Riverbank Park Plaza in Central London last night, more than 30 of the UK’s leading food and drink manufacturers competed for 11 coveted awards.

The star accolade, Food Manufacturing Company of the Year 2011, was awarded to Weetabix.

The judges described Weetabix as “a beacon for excellence in food manufacture”.​ It responded to changing consumer lifestyles with the introduction of tasty new cereal bars that people wanted to buy. It then ensured it could supply them cost-effectively by making sure all of its employees were fully engaged in what the company was trying to achieve.

Chairman of judges Paul Wilkinson summed up the firm’s achievement: “Weetabix is an absolutely fantastic story: everything from category management, to innovation and productivity. It is an integrated response to food manufacturing excellence.”

Weetabix also won the Ambient Manufacturer of the Year category​.

Bakery Manufacturer of the Year: United Biscuits. The judges noted that the firm had delivered its sixth consecutive year of profitable growth, despite turbulent economic and market conditions. “As well as investing in its facilities, United Biscuits has developed the skills of its people, while improving its environmental performance and community involvement,” ​said the judges.

Beverage Manufacturer of the Year:​ Kraft Foods In just three years, it has completely turned around plant performance, delivering a 22% reduction in fixed cost per tonne, with gains in both energy reduction and improvements to yield. The judges said: “Kraft showed real clarity in the way it delivered results. It demonstrated good examples of process innovation, using simple approaches, which involved a lot of rigour.”

Chilled Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year:​ Mash Direct.​A small​company, which punches well above its weight and continues to drive success, concluded the judges. It has a strong technical background enabling it to design equipment to meet its particular needs. The firm now has national listings with Morrisons and Nisa Todays as well as outlets in the foodservice sector.

Dairy Manufacturer of the Year​: Rodda's. Despite the tough economic climate, the Cornish creamery has increased sales by 23%, improving its national distribution through both foodservice and retail outlets. Over the past five years, it has invested large sums in upgrading its factory and processes to give it a more competitive edge. The judges also praised Rodda’s process innovation and control. One said: “It is a very good example of product development and investment in frozen clotted cream.”

Fresh Produce Manufacturer of the Year:​ IPL Normanton. The firm has delivered the highest levels of produce quality at the lowest possible cost by empowering its employees with the skills and equipment they need to improve fresh produce supply. One very successful initiative has been the introduction of a system of reporting, which allows workers to get to the root cause of product rejects. One judge remarked: “The stats they’ve achieved on fresh produce wastage and rejects are brilliant.”

Frozen Foods Manufacturer of the Year​: R&R Ice Cream. The firm has proved itself adept at new product introductions. It ensures staff training is a top priority to meet its productivity needs. The judges said: “R&R demonstrated a clear strategy, which produced some very impressive improvements in its supply chain.”

Meat & Poultry Manufacturer of the Year:​ Becketts Foods. Lean manufacturing has become the cultural norm within Becketts Foods. Customer requirements are captured and translated into activities on the company’s shop floor. The judges said: “Becketts’ lean manufacturing was a very positive solution. It had very clear answers and simple statistics to show the benefits of what it was doing.”

Seafood Manufacturer of the Year:​ Young's Seafood. The success of Young’s Annan operation has been underpinned by the development of the company’s formed scampi business in 2009 and the introduction of Scampi Bites in 2011. It has continued to increase its production volumes, against a backdrop of increased raw material costs, and it now plays a crucial role in helping Young’s maintain its 50% market share in scampi. “It’s a good news story,” ​said the judges. “Young’s has turned around the site from the brink of disaster.”

Small Company of the Year​ was Moguntia Food Ingredients UK. Privately-owned blending company Moguntia won praise from the judges for its impressive organic growth. The bespoke seasonings and spice blends firm doubled its turnover from £4.5M in 2007, to a projected £9.2M this year. This impressive growth was driven by a rise in orders from existing customers in traditional and new business sectors as well as from new customers.

Training Programme of the Year: ​Nom Dairy UK. The firm has embarked on an intensive training programme to ensure that its rapid growth plans could be realised. The results, in terms of financial savings achieved so far, have been truly remarkable. The judges said: “Nom introduced a very structured and systematic approach to training, which met its objectives. It was a truly excellent entry in a highly contested category.”

The Judges’ Special Award:​ Fruitapeel. The firm won for the marketing innovation behind its ‘Fun Juice’ kids drink brand. The judges praised the way Fruitapeel had identified a business opportunity and then successfully developed a healthy kids' drink – which contains no artificial additives – to fill that gap in the market.

The 2011 Food Personality of the Year​ was Christine Bense, formerly plant director, Kraft Foods, Banbury. The readers of Food Manufacture​ voted, in overwhelming numbers, for her to receive this prestigious award. Christine was instrumental in getting staff at Banbury to embrace the huge challenges facing them. She presided over major changes to raise productivity and introduce environmental improvements.

Watch out for multi-media coverage of the awards online, on social media and in our sister publication Food Manufacture​. For more information click here​.

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