This year's Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, which took place in Dunblane on 26 May, certainly showcased a raft of healthy, innovative, food products. And the healthy products were by no means restricted to the healthy categories. While Supernature took the healthy eating award for its Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, healthy products also stole some of the top category awards.
The overall retail category winner also scooping the product innovation of the year award and the product of the year accolade was Saladworx, with its Highland Grown Salad, Herbs and Edible Flowers. Sold into foodservice already, the product is being re-branded for the retail market. The salad mix is never the same, which Saladworx owner David Herbert believes will be key to its future success in retail.
"When you go to the supermarket now and you buy a bag of mixed leaf, it's the same every time. We're hoping this is going to be different." It's not just about new dishes. Cashing in on Scots' love of their national cuisine but with a nod to healthy eating, shortlisted Geez McGhee's Wi'oot the Greeze is a low-fat turkey version of the traditional Scotch Pie.
The retail category award for dairy was another 'healthy' offering, a lower-fat take on organic milk. Organic milk and 1% fat milk have been around for a while, but Graham's The Family Dairy is the first to market with a combination of the two, listed in Sainsbury's stores nationwide. These innovations sit well with Scotland Food & Drink's plans.
"We have identified three key obvious strengths of our industry premium, provenance and health," says chief executive Paul McLaughlin. "Given the country's record for diet, I find it particularly encouraging that within this health agenda so many products are coming forward and winning awards."
Scotland Food & Drink aims to grow the industry's worth to £12.5bn by 2017 (from £10bn in 2007), and innovating to give new, healthy takes on traditional products will be key. "Developing new recipes and products using old favourites, for example, one-minute microwave haggis from Macsween, or Nairn's gluten-free products, is really encouraging for the future of our industry," says the organisation.
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