Do you think you are among the best food and drink exporters in the country? Have you got a great export story to tell? Fancy an opportunity of showcasing your achievements? If so, you should be entering the Food from Britain Export Awards, which are being run in association with The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Grocer.
Now in their ninth year, the awards are bigger and better than ever - and Food from Britain is expecting a record level of entries.
The awards are free to enter and any food and drink exporter, big or small, is eligible to take part.
There are seven product categories in this year’s competition, covering cereals, dairy, drinks, grocery, frozen and chilled, speciality and own label. In addition, there are four national awards for the best English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish exporters into which all entries are automatically entered.
There are also awards for best new exporter and exhibitor of the year.
Once again, there will be a marketing innovation award, which will be open to all entered companies.
New awards this year include one dubbed Image of Britain, which recognises companies whose efforts reflect well on the nation. There’s also an award to recognise companies’ efforts abroad in partnership with the FFB international team, and an inspiration award to highlight the efforts of an individual in the export world.
All category winners will compete for the ultimate accolade: Exporter of the Year, which was won in 2004 by Marlow Foods. Nick Hughes, MD of Marlow Foods, says: “Quorn is now the world’s number one meat-free retail brand, and we were delighted to be recognised for our export achievements.”
Marlow Foods was also named as English Exporter of the Year and Frozen and Chilled Exporter of the Year, partly on the back of its success in launching Quorn in the home of the hamburger - the US.
But what do other winners think of the awards? Many say that winning a prize has helped them gain recognition from their peers, boost sales and win new international listings.
“Winning an FFB Export Award has put Blackwood Distillers - a small company from a remote part of Scotland - on the international drinks map.
“It has enabled us to speak to and conduct business with people we would not have otherwise, and has been, without doubt, a major boost to our ongoing growth,” says Caroline Whitfield, chief executive of Blackwood Distillers, winner of the 2004 New Exporter of the Year and Scottish Exporter of the Year.
This year’s awards come as new figures predict UK food and drink exports will top £10bn for the first time in a decade.
And Simon Waring, Food from Britain’s marketing and international management director, says: “The UK continues to build on its reputation for innovation and we are seeing companies of all sizes and product sectors excelling internationally.
“Through our awards, we want to hear from these companies so they get the applause and profile they deserve.
“Winning an award serves as a seal of export excellence to help attract and secure new business.”
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at the Savoy Hotel in London on December 14, following Food from Britain’s annual Network Forum, where delegates will be able to discuss export strategy with the organisation’s experienced international consultants.
FFB will also announce which company has won its prestigious award for retailer of the year - which was won by Whole Foods Market in 2004.
Full details of the FFB awards can be found at www.foodfrombritain.com/awards, where you will also be able to fill in the online competition entry form.