Food Manufacture Excellence Awards: finalists revealed

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Raynor Foods was the overall 2020 winner of the awards. Who will claim the prize in 2021?
Raynor Foods was the overall 2020 winner of the awards. Who will claim the prize in 2021?

Related tags Meat & Seafood Bakery Fresh produce Ambient Supply chain Ingredients & nutrition vegan Technology & Automation Training & recruitment Dairy

It’s just over eight months since hundreds of leaders in food and drink processing gathered at London’s Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square to celebrate the 2020 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, but it feels a lot longer.

Yet in this year, more than any year, the tireless efforts and achievements of the industry at all levels deserve recognition and reward.

That’s why Food Manufacture​ has turned to the virtual world to highlight innovation and excellence. A new multi-media content format has been devised, while additional content will showcase the judges, finalists and the sector’s response since the pandemic was first declared.

11 February date

We are sticking with the original 11 February date to reveal the winners, via a special broadcast from 5pm​ direct to mobiles, tablets, laptops and PCs.

Toasting your own, or your customers’ triumphs from your home or office in the online setting that has become the springboard for business initiatives seems somehow fitting.

We’re grateful too for the continued support of sponsors Dawn Foods​ and Fowler Welch​ in this endeavour.

The ability to rapidly adapt to change and to push boundaries in the middle of so much disruption was also a big theme shining through so many entries this year. So we now disclose in these pages the individuals and companies that have made the prestigious list of finalists.

Alongside the shortlists chosen by our judges, read on for the six individuals up for reader nomination for our 2021 Business Leader Award. To cast your vote and for more detail on the other awards and the judges, look out for further coverage on this website and our awards website​ in the next few months.

A word from our chair of judges Geoff Eaton

Geoff Eaton

I was incredibly impressed that so many good quality entries were pulled together in this environment.
There were fascinating and genuinely innovative achievements in every category and it was great to see so many small and large businesses represented.

Many of the smaller ones demonstrated brilliant ideas, but were just at too early a point in their journey. They were, however, ones to watch. I also found the experience of judging really positive. You learn so much about what people are doing.

Well done to all the finalists and look out for more coverage and the winners’ announcement next February.

Overall awards

Company of The Year

Only winners of the seven main categories below can win this coveted accolade, which is give to the company that has most effectively demonstrated all-round excellence. The 2020 winner was sandwich supplier Raynor Foods.

Large Company of The Year

This prize goes to the most impressive company with sales of £10m or more, from among the entrants in the main categories. In 2020 that was Nairn’s Oatcakes.

Small Company of The Year

Similar to the Large Company of the Year, the trophy for this award is given to the best-performing main-category entrant claiming sales of under £10m. The 2020 winner was Raynor Foods.


Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year

Vying for the top in this category are a branded canned and packaged food and drink supplier, a Lake District firm producing preserves, chutneys, fruit syrups and drinks and a non-alcoholic beverage maker.

  • Lakeland Artisan
  • Princes
  • Skinny Tonic

Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year

Mediterranean artisan producer Dina Foods, based in Park Royal, London, takes on retail-label and licensed baker Finsbury and long-life doughnut supplier Simply Doughnuts for this trophy.

  • Dina Foods
  • Finsbury Food Group
  • Simply Doughnuts

Chilled, Fresh & Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year

Mash Direct has been a longstanding entrant and supporter of these awards. But it has its work cut out facing off against dairy products giant Muller, specialist goats cheese and vegan player The Abergavenny Fine Food Company and Lymn Bank Farm Cheese.

  • The Abergavenny Fine Food Company
  • Lymn Bank Farm
  • Mash Direct
  • Muller UK

Free-From Manufacturing Company of the Year

Kirsty’s rose to prominence after a successful pitch on BBC series Dragon’s Den. Hawkshead Relish is the second Lake District-based local producer in these awards, while Wholebake delivers gluten-free snacks from its Wrexham base. Who will come out on top?

  • Hawkshead Relish Company
  • Kirsty’s
  • Wholebake

Ingredients Manufacturing Company of the Year

There’s a rich variety of finalists in this year’s category, from providers of naturally smoked ingredients and fruit infusions to a major flour supplier and a global flavours and aromas creator.

  • Besmoke
  • Carr’s
  • Nim’s Fruit Crisps
  • Synergy Flavours

Plant-Based Manufacturing Company of the Year

New for 2021, this accolade goes to businesses blazing a trail in the meat-free arena. Finalists range from vegan puddings manufacturer Freaks of Nature and speciality food producer Winterbotham Darby to Glebe Farm Foods, which has turned quality control in oat production into an art form.

  • Freaks of Nature
  • Glebe Farm Foods
  • Winterbotham Darby

Meat, Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year

A gallery of goliaths in pork, beef and poultry processing square off against each other and a small Devon sausage maker. How will this story end?

  • ABP UK
  • Cranswick
  • Dunbia
  • Moy Park
  • Westaway Sausages


Industry Initiative Awards

These awards concentrate on outstanding business achievement in training, export and strategic partnerships with key service providers. 


  • Hovis
  • Moy Park
  • PepsiCo
  • Whitworths


  • Addo Food Group/Newton
  • Bird’s Eye/Future Food Solutions/Yorkshire Water
  • Kirsty’s/DC Norris


  • Abergavenny Fine Foods
  • Cranswick
  • Symington’s

People Awards

The focus here is on the achievement of factory site teams and apprentices in boosting business success.

Site Team of the Year

  • Carr’s Silloth
  • Moy Park Dungannon
  • Ryecroft Foods Ashton
  • Winterbotham Darby Clitheroe

Apprentice of The Year

  • Amelia Cockrain, Coca-Cola European Partners
  • Emily Chater, Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd
  • Gabrielle Freeman, Pilgrim’s Pride Ltd
  • Henry Greer, Finnebrogue
  • Stephen King, ABP UK

Words from a winner

Matt Raynor, executive chairman of sandwich maker Raynor Foods, which supplies hospitals, schools and airlines, confessed he was “absolutely bowled over” that the business won the overall 2020 Food Manufacture Company of the Year award. The small producer’s on-site hydroponic farm, supplying fresh produce for its sandwiches impressed the judges. And its technical and innovation director Tom Hollands devised Listeria guidelines with Raynor Foods apprentice Karina Gluszczyk, which have now been adopted as best practice in the sandwich industry.
“We’ve come up with some mad and crazy ideas and in fact we’re known for the mad and crazy ideas and to be recognised for this is fabulous validation that actually we might be a bit mad and crazy, but we also really know what we’re doing,”​ said Raynor.

Judges Special Award

The Judges Special Award goes to a company deserving special mention in a certain field. There’s no shortlist.

Business Leader of The Year

Our Business Leader of The Year award goes to someone who is an example for their peers to follow. The winner is determined by readers via an online vote. The 2021 contenders are:

  • Morten Toft Bech, founder, Meatless Farm
  • Lindsay Boswell, chief executive, Fareshare
  • Kirsty Henshaw, managing director, Kirsty’s
  • Cassandra Stavrou, founder, Proper Snacks
  • George Weston, chief executive, ABF
  • Alex Whitehouse, chief executive, Premier Foods

Nominations will open shortly on our dedicated awards website​, ​where further details on all the candidates will be found.

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