Part of the BBC Food & Farming Awards, the Farming Today Future Food Award celebrates the achievements of cutting-edge innovators in the UK food and drink supply chain. It highlights the work of pioneers, who are pointing the way ahead for others to follow in revolutionising the way food is grown, produced, processed, delivered or sold.
All three finalists – seaweed producer Islander – Rathlin Kelp, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, the community-owned Seed Co-operative, Spalding, Lincolnshire and the winner subterranean salad grower Growing Underground in London – all reported direct business benefits from their association with the awards.
Seaweed producer Kate Burns, md of Islander – Rathlin Kelp told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Being a finalist in the Food Awards opened doors when I would call up potential customers, particularly restaurants. It has made a fundamental change to the response I get when hoping to engage with chefs.”
In addition to increased turnover and brand reputation, recognition in the awards reinforced the team’s self-belief, says Burns.
‘More than a little reckless optimism’
The seaweed entrepreneur was especially pleased to win recognition in the Future Food Award. “I think this category, more than any, requires vision, and principles, and more than a little ‘reckless optimism’ regarding the possibilities of new models of food production which are sustainable and valuable from a food production perspective.”
David Price of the Seed Co-operative said being shortlisted in the category “brought both our existence and the profile of why we are here to greater prominence”.
That enhanced profile promised to boost sales. “We have sent out 50% more catalogues this year than last; up by quite a lot more than 1500. The coming months will actually be the proof as our sales are predominantly January to April. Our social media followers are also much higher.”
Award requires ‘reckless optimism’
“I think this category, more than any, requires vision, and principles, and more than a little ‘reckless optimism’, regarding the possibilities of new models of food production which are sustainable and valuable from a food production perspective.”
- Kate Burns
Morale and marketing benefits
Future Food Award 2017 winner Growing Underground reported both morale and marketing benefits.
Co-founder of the subterranean salad business Steven Dring told this website: “Winning this award has had many different impacts on our business. Internally, here is a team that have worked tirelessly to develop our system so we can consistently produce a quality product and service for high profile customers such as Marks & Spencer and Ocado. Awards like this are a confirmation that all of their hard work is recognised by the wider food loving audience.
“Externally, it is great for marketing to potential customers on our packaging and it also affirms that we have a system that is not only feasible, but scalable.”
The BBC Farming Today Future Food Award is one of a series of awards dedicated to celebrating the achievements of food and farming heroes, who are helping people source and enjoy Great British food and drink. Among the categories open for nomination this year include Best Food Producer and Best Street Food or Takeaway Award.
Nominations can be made online ahead of the deadline of deadline on January 29. The awards are open to any British food manufacturer, farmer, national retailer or other food chain business.
Meanwhile, listen to Radio 4’s The Food Programme this Sunday (January 28) for more on the BBC Farming Today Future Food Award.