Jeremy Faulkner, managing director of SK Chilled Foods, was bursting with pride that the company had claimed the ultimate accolade of Company of the Year at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2017 on 1 November last year.
“In many ways, it will be the local thing that will be most important to us,” he said in a video interview at London’s Hilton on Park Lane hotel after the news had been announced.
“Middlesbrough is where our factories are based. We employ 700 boys and girls from the area and it will be a huge boost – a big impact – for them. They’ll be thrilled to bits.”
Fast-forward seven months and it’s time to launch this year’s awards. Faulkner is just as enthused about them as he was when SK Chilled Foods won last year.
“As a predominantly own-label supplier, SK Foods does not often have its moment to shine in its own right, so winning Food Manufacture Company of the Year has done a number of things for us.
“It has cemented our credibility and reputation as a producer of quality ethnic snacks, party food and meal accompaniments and differentiated us from our competitors. But, perhaps most importantly, it has provided a reward and a sense of pride for our workforce to be recognised for such a prestigious industry award, for ultimately what is their hard work and dedication.”
Food and Drink Oscars
The level of support and praise in the industry for these long-established Oscars for UK food and drink processors is unsurprising when you consider their unique strengths.
The judging panel is as robust as ever, consisting of individuals who, between them, boast well over 100 years of experience working in all aspects of the food supply chain. Every effort has been made to form a group that reflects balance and independence in the assessment of entries.
This year’s new and improved awards have a number of new elements to add even more vibrancy to proceedings. For the first time, entries will be submitted online in a bid to avoid unnecessary paperwork, which is particularly apt for awards reflecting companies’ environmental achievements.
In another first, in response to feedback from previous entrants and judges, entries for the main category awards will be split into two streams. One will be dedicated to companies with a turnover of more than £10m and one earmarked for smaller businesses.
In this way, submissions can be judged more on their own merits and the spirit of the event reflects particularly the nature of an industry that is predominantly composed of small to medium-sized businesses. These are the businesses most in need of recognition and the publicity that a first prize would bring.
Several new awards have also been introduced to highlight fresh areas that have so far not received the profile they deserved.
Among the main categories, winners of which are eligible for a shot at the overall award, Foodservice Manufacturer of the Year has been introduced to reward manufacturers
ultimately supplying the catering, hospitality and restaurant trade.
The beverage category has been split to create two separate awards, one for soft drinks processing and one for alcoholic drinks brewing and distilling. Streams have been created for ingredients and frozen food manufacturers.
Supply Chain Partnership (replacing Supply Chain Initiative of the Year) and Technology Partnership awards are being launched to acknowledge the part service providers play in business success and give them the recognition they deserve.
Equally, a new Site Team of the Year award will be opened to entries, tailored to production line staff, with the aim of respecting the fact that manufacturing excellence is a team effort.
Emerging talent will be given their chance to shine in the Future Business Leaders category, while Apprentice of the Year is designed to support the take-up of apprenticeships and the valuable role apprentices play in the food industry.
In tandem with this, a Business Leaders award will reward leading lights and influencers in the industry for their achievements for their business and, potentially, the whole sector.
The recipient of this accolade will be chosen by industry contacts from a shortlist of six personalities drawn up by the editorial team.
Award for Export
Finally, an Award for Export has been created to underline achievements in overseas trade in an era that presents unprecedented opportunities in that area.
Nor are all these awards intended to deliver a single hit for those who take part. Press releases celebrating the winners’ glory will, of course, continue to be issued by Food Manufacture to regional media outlets, and video interviews conducted on the night will be posted online after the event.
However, in addition a win will put you on our editorial team’s radar and open the possibility of further magazine or web coverage, should entrants be willing, of course.
Back at London’s Hilton on Park Lane by popular demand, the black-tie awards night on 7 November will be big top-themed, so dust off your tuxedos and ball gowns and watch this space for more news on plans for the entertainment and festivities over the course of the night.
In addition, don’t miss out on the opportunity to benefit from networking and high-profile association with the event as a sponsor. Contact Alix Hunter or call 01293 846548 for information on packages.
Full awards list
- Food Manufacture Company of the Year
- Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Drinks (alcoholic) Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Soft Drinks Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Chilled & Fresh Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Foodservice Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Frozen Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Ingredients Manufacturing Company of the Year
- Meat, Poultry and Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year
Industry Initiative Awards
- Training Award
- Supply Chain Partnership Award
- Technology Partnership Award
- Award for Export
- Site Team of the Year
- Future Business Leader
- Apprentice of the Year
- 2018 Business Leader