New, new, new. With a new name, new venue and 13 more finalists than last year, The Grocer Food & Drink Awards 2010 was an exciting event for all involved. Eighty finalists had a nerve-wracking wait to find out if their products could scoop gold at a ceremony that included food critic Charles Campion dishing the dirt on TV's Masterchef and a seven-foot bear.
The two-part judging process ensured that the brightest, best and just as importantly the tastiest products won through at the event, hosted by The Grocer editor Adam Leyland and sponsored by Field Sales Solutions and Amcor Flexibles. Entries from companies large and small were scrutinised in consumer tests by Cambridge Market Research, before being examined by a panel of expert judges from across the food and drink industry.
Finalists in the 16 categories ranged from major players such as Premier Foods' Quorn with two products shortlisted in the Chilled Savoury category to relative newcomers such as snack brand Nibl's Berry Cherry Choc and Isle of Man Creamery's two mature Cheddars.
Winners included Kerrygold, with its Lighter Softer reduced salt spreadable butter; Henry Goode's Soft Eating Liquorice, which judges said managed to have a "fantastic retro look, and yet still feel fresh"; and Total 2% Greek Yoghurt with Honey, which "beat all expectations and delivered on all levels". Dorset Cereals' Honey Granola took gold by tapping consumers' hunger for natural and healthy food, while Dickinson & Morris topped the Chilled Savoury Pies category with the quality ingredients in its Large Melton Mowbray Pork Pie.
And while Marco Pierre White's Glorious! sauces missed out in the Chilled Savoury Prepared Sauces & Vegetables category, the brand's Indian Chicken Soup wowed judges with a "flavour that really delivered and felt homemade".
Pipping Marco Pierre White to the post and taking the gong for Prepared Sauces & Vegetables was family business Mash Direct, with Red Cabbage & Beetroot. It scored highly with consumers thanks to its nutritious ingredients and easy to prepare format. The farmers turned prepared food brand were thrilled with their win.
"We're so happy," said director Martin Hamilton. "We're the only Northern Irish brand here and we've won. What an endorsement to win this from the food Bible!" Co-director Tracy Hamilton added consumers wanted "good-quality convenience proper food without the hassle".
Mrs Crimbles, which won in Bakery for its Fresh Gluten Free Bread, triumphed in its first entry for such an award. Managing director Jeremy Woods said that they chose to enter because "it's time we started running with the big boys".
Gold: Mrs Crimble's Fresh Gluten Free Bread
Gold: Dorset Cereals Honey Granola
Silver: Rude Health Organic Fruity Date Porridge
Gold: Mash Direct Red Cabbage & Beetroot
Gold: Dickinson & Morris Large Melton Mowbray Pork Pie
Silver: Higgidy Broccoli & Stilton Quiche
Gold: Total 2% Greek Yoghurt with Honey
Silver: Farmhouse Fare Luxury Creamy Rice Pudding with Fruit Compote
Gold: Henry Goode's Soft Eating Liquorice
Silver: Haribo Super Sour Monsters
Gold: Ugo's Deli Café Chicken, Mozzarella Cheese & Black Olive Tapenade Hot Crispy Panini
Silver: Heinz Reduced Sugar & Salt Beanz Snap Pots
Gold: Lee Kum Kee Double Deluxe Soy Sauce
Silver: Dolmio Stir-In Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
Gold: Kerrygold Lighter Softer
Silver: The Happy Egg Co Free Range Eggs
Gold: Birds Eye Salmon Fish Fingers
Silver: Birds Eye Simply Bake to Perfection Chunky Wild Pink Salmon Fillets
Gold: Aunt Bessie's Midweek Minis
Silver: Bannisters' Farm Filled Baked Potato Skins Cheese & Smokey Bacon
Gold: Ben & Jerry's Phish Food Frozen Yoghurt
Silver: Lion Ice Cream Bars
Gold: Clipper Pure Green Tea
Silver: PG Tips Loose Tea
Gold: New Covent Garden Fresh Orange Juice with Bits
Silver: Nestlé Pure Life Still Spring Water
Silver: Bundaberg Australian Ginger Beer
Gold: Glorious! Indian Chicken Soup
Silver: Ainsley Harriott World Kitchen Aromatic Thai Chicken & Lemongrass Cup Soup
Gold: Bear Mango & Pineapple Baked Fruit Nibbles
Silver: Bear Strawberry Fruit YoYos