FMEA 2017

Willowbrook Foods wins fresh produce food manufacturing Oscar

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Willowbrook Foods's director John McCann received the trophy from Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology (right), and awards host Matt Dawson
Willowbrook Foods's director John McCann received the trophy from Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology (right), and awards host Matt Dawson
Northern Ireland root vegetable and salad processing company Willowbrook Foods has won the prized Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year trophy in the industry’s Oscars – the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards – at The Hilton on Park Lane in London at the beginning of this month (Wednesday, November 1).

The firm’s achievements were celebrated in front of hundreds of food industry guests, as director John McCann collected the award from Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology. They were joined on stage by awards host, English Rugby Union cup winner and former team captain Matt Dawson.

Based on the shores of Strangford Lough, Willowbrook Foods supplies some of the largest retail, ingredients manufacturers and foodservice providers.

Under the leadership of founder John McCann, the business has achieved impressive growth in recent years. Turnover has climbed from £21.2M in 2015 to £25M last year and £28M in the 2017 financial year.

Double digit turnover growth

The FMEA awards’ independent judging panel – lead by Paul Wilkinson, chair of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink – praised Willowbrook Foods’s double digit turnover growth and export success.

One judge remarked: “Active across 10 categories and supplying 70 customers worldwide – including airlines – this is an impressive business that is really going places.”

Finalists in the Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year were: Fourayes Farm, Natures Way Foods, PrepWorld and Unimush Ireland, trading as UMI Foods.

The overall award Food Manufacture Company of the Year ​was snapped up by County Durham-based ethnic snacks manufacturer SK Chilled Foods, after it first won Chilled Food Manufacturing Company of the Year.

Manufacturing Excellence

The annual FMEAs, organised by William Reed’s Food Manufacture Group, now in their 17th year, have become the premier showcase for British food and drink manufacturing excellence.

This year’s FMEAs included seven manufacturing awards: Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year, Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year, Beverages Manufacturing Company of the Year, Chilled Food Manufacturing Company of the Year, Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year, Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year and Meat and Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year.

FMEA Oscars were also awarded for: Best New Use of Food Ingredients, Environmental Initiative of the Year, Supply Chain Initiative of the Year, Training Programme of the Year, SME Innovation of the Year and Judges’ Star Performer.

The final two awards were for: Young Talent of the Year and the Me and My Factory: Editor’s Choice Award.

Thanks to all the FMEA sponsors: Columbus, DR Newitt, Lockton, Michael Page Engineering and Manufacturing, Celsius, Sanderson, SA Partners, PPMA and KDH Projects.

Read the full list of winners and finalists here​.

Meanwhile, more information about the food and drink manufacturing Oscars here ​and read how to register your interest for next year’s awards here​.

Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year finalists

  • Fourayes Farm
  • Natures Way Foods
  • PrepWorld
  • Unimush Ireland, trading as UMI Foods.
  • Willowbrook Foods Winner

Related topics: Manufacturing, Fresh produce, Supply Chain, IT

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