The search is now on for the UK's leading food and drink exporters with the launch of the annual Food from Britain Export Awards, in Associaiton with The Grocer.
The awards, now in their seventh year, provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the country's exporters. And there should be plenty for them to shout about, with the latest figures showing that exports of food and drink hit £8.9bn in 2002, recording the first increase in six years.
There are eight sector categories to enter: frozen & chilled; confectionery; seafood; cereal-based; grocer; dairy (which is new this year); drinks; and speciality. In addition, all entries will be entered into the category for marketing innovation. And all entries will also be put forward for one of the relevant national awards to recognise the best exporters from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. And, of course, the top prize will go to the company judged Food & Drink Exporter of the Year.
Last year's overall winner was Weetabix, which also won the category for best cereal-based exporter. Bill Humes, the company's commercial director, says: "We were delighted to win these Food from Britain export awards. They meant a lot to us, both externally, as recognition in the market, as well as internally, as a big pat on the back for everyone involved in our export success."
The other winners last year were Ashbury Confectionery, Boaters Coffee Company, Dairy Produce Packers, G Costa & Co, Loch Duart, Mondo Foods, Mission Foods, Plymouth Gin, Shetland Catch and South Caernarfon Creameries.
This year's winners will be announced at the Annual Export Awards Luncheon and Network Forum on December 17 at the Inter-Continental Hotel in London.
Simon Waring, FFB's marketing and international management director, said: "British food and drink exporters have a strong and respected reputation for delivering quality, innovative products across international markets. As the UK's leading food and drink export marketing consultancy, we are keen to recognise the commitment and dedication of British food and drink exporters.
"Every year the event grows as more companies come forward to celebrate their export expertise, so we are delighted to add the Dairy Exporter of the Year award to this year's competition. With export sales now showing strong signs of recovery, we hope to hear from more companies than ever."
The awards are open to any food and drink company that can demonstrate a sound strategy for developing and growing export sales over the last three years.
Details on the competition and the Network Forum can be found on Or you can ring Tracy George on 0207 468 8566.
But hurry! The deadline for entries is October 3.