The award for its organic line was presented by celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli on the second day of the Food & Drink Expo 2006, held at the NEC in Birmingham this week.
Novelli told The Grocer that the judging process had been a delight, adding that the quality of food in the UK was improving immeasurably. "For me, food is my life. And the entrants to these awards have been like an ocean of pleasure. It was a tough decision, but the winner, Inverawe, is not just a good product, it is perfection."
FFB chairwoman Sylvia Jay also told visitors to the show that Defra would be giving £2m of funding to bring practical support to small producers over the next two years and help develop the market for quality produce in England. "By highlighting the best food and drink at Expo, we hope to raise awareness among consumers, but also reward the producers, who put their hearts and many hours of their days into making their businesses a success. It is their hard work that makes the regional food and drink sector the thriving industry that it is today."
As well as taking the top gong, Inverawe Smokehouse was named best product in the fish category. Other category winners included Aconbury Sprouts, Toppenrose Dairy, Columbine Cakes, Pieminister, Burts Hand Fried Potato Chips, Spanks, Steenbergs Organic, The Fresh Pasta Company, Chegworth Valley, Lyme Bay Winery and Kitchen Guru.
Lord Bach, minister for sustainable farming and food, also visited the show on its second day. He toured the regional food pavilions, which play a prominent part at the event this year, sampling produce from the stands. "I'm impressed by the amazing variety of regional foods here," he told The Grocer.
"There's an obvious desire for people to not want their food mass produced. At Defra, we want to make sure that the regional food succeeds."