British firms are well placed to make exports central to corporate strategy, according to Food From Britain. Helen Gregory reports Patak's has been named Food & Drink Exporter of the Year in an awards ceremony to honour UK firms' success overseas. The company took top spot in the Food From Britain Export Awards, held at London's Inter-Continental Hotel in association with The Grocer and HSBC. Patak's exports to 45 countries now make up 25% of the company's turnover and have risen nearly 20% in the last three years. Other award winners were: Red Meat, Hilton Food Group and St Merryn Meats; Drinks, AG Barr; Frozen and Chilled, Coombe Castle; Potato, MBM Produce; General Grocery, Patak's; Cereal-based, Weetabix; New Exporter, William Jackson & Son; Special Commendation, St Peter's Brewery. Dutch supermarket chain Royal Ahold won the International Retailer of the Year Award for its work in markets around the world. Guests at the ceremony included MAFF minister Joyce Quin (above), chief executive and president of Albert Heijn Dick Boer, and director general elect of the Food and Drink Federation Sylvia Jay. During the ceremony, FFB chairman Gordon Summerfield called on British companies, especially firms that did not currently sell abroad, to put exports high on their agendas and make them central to corporate strategy. Said Summerfield: "In this country we have the products, technology and skills. We need to reconfirm commitment to exports, and FFB is here to help." He added: "Our domestic retail scene has never been more turbulent, with changes of senior management at five of the major companies which, in its wake, is bound to drive further dramatic change. "But there is potential opportunity as we see continued overseas expansion by some UK and European retailers." Quin admitted that the currency situation was far from ideal, but added: "Despite this, it's good to see the successful efforts of our companies." {{NEWS }}