An upmarket bottled water, great-tasting sorbets and organic ducks were among the winners at this year’s True Taste Wales Food & Drink Awards.

The awards, which are backed by The Grocer, are now in their fourth year. They celebrate excellence and innovation in Welsh food and drink and companies of all sizes, spanning every part of the industry, were among this year’s winners.

And WDA Agri-Food Director, Arwyn Davies, said winning an award was not only a great achievement, it was a real business-builder too: “We know that being a True Taste winner will bring vital brand recognition and priceless publicity, which, from previous winners’ feedback, we know will help to boost their businesses.”

In the organic category Muscovy Duck from Cambrian Organics which sells locally reared ducks under its new Cambrian Hills brand was a gold winner, as was House of Rhug’s Home Reared Rhug Organic Lamb.

Another company picking up a coveted gold award was The Fruit Garden which uses its own fruit to make a range of ice creams and sorbets marketed under the name Wild Fig. It took gold in both the producer and packaging categories.

Created with the hospitality market very much in mind, Tau is the latest brand from Ty Nant Spring Water and was the winner of gold in the large manufacturer category. Other manufacturers picking gold were Welsh Lady Preserves, Caroline’s Real Bread Company and Penlon Cottage Brewery.

The winner of the producer category was Yerbeston Farm Gate Shop in Pembrokeshire. A champion of Welsh food, the company received its award for its Welsh black beef fillet steak.

Co-operation along the food chain was an award-winning formula for farmers on the National Trust’s Dolaucothi Estate in Carmarthenshire, who picked up the gold farming partnership trophy. They supply their Dolaucothi National Trust Estate Lamb to Sainsbury’s.

In the category for best public/private sector food initiative, Hughes Meats Company scooped gold thanks to its partnership with Welsh Health Supplies and T H Sutcliffe to supply hospitals across North West Wales with beef from local markets.

There were gold awards in the retailer category for Ultracomida Delicatessen in Narberth, Haverfordwest Farmers’ Market, Welsh Farm Organics in Powys and Swan’s Farm Shop in Flintshire.
Each year an ambassador is chosen as the face of the Welsh food and drink industry, and North Wales butcher Ieuan Edwards was named as True Taste Ambassador for 2005/06.

The farmer’s son from Conwy was just 21 when he opened his first butcher’s shop. Since then he has succeeded in building up a thriving business - including a sausage manufacturing unit - employing over 40 staff and serving around 6,000 customers every week.

He said: “As ambassador my message will be one of team work and how important it is to work to work together from government level down. Welsh food and drink is in vogue for the right reasons and we have got to capitalise on this.”