50 Food stars celebrated at DEFRA HQ

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food and drink

DEFRA boss Liz Truss praised the 50 Food Stars
DEFRA boss Liz Truss praised the 50 Food Stars
Fifty of the UK’s most promising food and drink entrepreneurs have been dubbed Food Stars by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at a showcase event in London.

The entrepreneurs were invited to attend the event and training session at DEFRA headquarters yesterday (February 26). The fab 50 – ranging from fiery Scotch bonnet pepper sauce makers in Scotland to chocolatiers using Indian spices in London – were recognised for their rapid growth, high potential and contribution to local jobs and the economy.

Secretary of state Liz Truss said the businesses present revealed the revival of UK food and drink, as a new generation of entrepreneurs emerged to contribute to the record £103bn generated by the food chain last year.

Truss told FoodManufacture.co.uk at the event: “It ​[the event] was the first of its kind, bringing these companies in to DEFRA and celebrating the industry. What I want it to be about is the industry working together to promote British food and farming.”

A short clip of the video interview appears towards the end of this article, and the full interview will be available next week.

Justin King wowed the group

The event also incorporated workshops to boost the skills of the entrepreneurs in key areas. Richard Clothier, md of cheese producer Wyke Farms and former Food Manufacture Personality of the Year​, ran a workshop on social media skills. And Justin King, former ceo of Sainsbury wowed the group with his list of key things food and drink entrepreneurs should know.

The Food Stars initiative was part of a wider government plan to inspire entrepreneurial activity across the UK as part of our long-term economic plan.

Food chain in numbers

  • 50: number of Food Stars
  • 103bn: pounds generated by food chain in 2014
  • 30,000: new businesses in 2013
  • 16,000: new products launched each year
  • 19bn: pounds worth of exports since 2013

“Now is the time to celebrate ​[food and drink entrepreneurs’] success, which is helping grow our economy,”​ said Truss. “That is why we’ve created Food stars to recognise the bright innovators of today and support them to become the major players of tomorrow.”

Exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel, praised the scale of the food industry’s contribution to the economy: “Food and farming remains the biggest manufacturing sector in Britain, employing one in eight people. There is no better time to join the growing number of innovators in food and drink – in 2013 entrepreneurs set up 30,000 new food and drink businesses generating thousands of jobs in the sector.”

‘Generating thousands of jobs’

The 50 Food Stars will receive continued support from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Cranfield University over the next year.

FDF interim director general Jim Moseley said: “Food and drink manufacturing is a great British success story and we’re delighted to support DEFRA’s Food Stars initiative which recognises the important contribution businesses in our industry make to the UK economy. 

“Small enterprises are driving growth and innovation but can lack the resources to keep up to speed with industry developments or the technical or regulatory resources required to ensure a level playing field. We hope that our continued support of free access to our tailored information service and advice will help these outstanding food and drink businesses boost growth even further.”

Watch out next week for our video interview with Truss on what is holding back small-scale firms and a video vox pop with producers at the event.

Meanwhile, below is some producer reaction to the day and the full list of the 50 Food Star firms.

  • Additional reporting by Laurence Gibbons.

What they said about the event:

Charles Baughan, md, Westaway Sausages​:  “Today's been quite inspirational for us. We've had some fantastic speakers, some great people to meet – other food producers from the UK – and, of course, some very valuable contact with buyers.”

Allison Abernethy, md, Abernethy Butter​: “It's been really great to meet other small producers and network with them and hear some really interesting workshops upstairs. Justin King was really down-to-earth and made things seem a bit more possible.”

Paul Withington, director, The Coconut Kitchen​: “Networking and speaking to other producers has been the biggest achievement. Definitely learning from some of the masters of the industry – Justin King’s Q&A and speech were really informative – and listening to Paul​ [Lindley] from Ella’s Kitchen. He’s probably one of icons of the industry.”

Katie McDermott, co-founder, Not Dogs​: “We’ve been going for a year, so it’s so great to get the insight from people that have been doing this for four, five to 20 years. To have DEFRA’s support behind us as we move in to our next stage of growth is absolutely invaluable.”

Martin Berkeley, Pilton Cider​: “It’s been a fantastic inspiration to come here and talk to producers ... the talks this morning were very inspiring to hear from people that have been successful in the past.”

Lynne Mallinson, md, Country Puddings​: “This event has opened up so many avenues of possibility really. From major retailers to food wholesalers, learning from other people’s growth and challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve overcome those, we can learn a lot form the guest speakers and contacts here.”


DEFRA’s 50 Food Stars

  1. Abernethy Butter
  2. The Artisan Kitchen
  3. Bath Soft Cheese
  4. Belvoir Fruit Farms
  5. Beer52
  6. Buxton Pudding Company
  7. Camel Valley
  8. Castleton Farm Shop
  9. Chapel Down
  10. Coconut Kitchen
  11. Country Puddings
  12. Cuddybridge Apple Juice
  13. Duke of Delhi
  14. Friary Liqueurs
  15. Goodnesse
  16. Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt
  17. Heck Food
  18. Hepworth & Company Brewers
  19. Highland Chocolatier
  20. Holy Cow!
  21. Jealous Sweets
  22. J.Lawrie & Sons ‘Jaffys’
  23. Jeffry’s Mallaig Kippers
  24. Joe and Seph’s Popcorn
  25. Killer Tomato
  26. Moorish
  27. Mackie’s at Taypack
  28. Nom Foods
  29. Norfolk Saffron
  30. The Norfolk Sloe Company
  31. Not Dogs
  32. Ooft Hot Sauce
  33. Pact Coffee
  34. The Patchwork Traditional Food Company
  35. Pilton Cider
  36. Rebel Kitchen
  37. Redhill Farm
  38. Ridgeview Wines
  39. Rubies in the Rubble
  40. Sandows
  41. Savse Smoothies
  42. Scarlett and Mustard
  43. Sweet Virtues
  44. Sweetpea Pantry
  45. Three Little Pigs
  46. Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon
  47. Warner Edwards
  48. Westaway Sausages
  49. Westerham Brewery
  50. Wold Top Brewery
  51. Womersley Fruit and Herb Vinegars
  52. Yorkshire Provender
  53. Yorvale

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