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Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards Honours Industrys Finest

29th October 2013

The finest talent in the Highlands and Islands food and drink industry gathered in Inverness on Friday (25th October 2013) to celebrate this years Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards.

It was a nail-biting finale as 41 businesses awaited the announcement of the winners of 12 awards, with victorious businesses ranging from breweries, bakeries, restaurants and retailers to producers of premium Scottish seafood, salt and cheese.

Gilpin Bradley of Wester Ross Salmon was given the top honour of the evening as he was presented with the Ambassador of the Year Award for his contribution to the industry. And Gigha Seafood walked away with the Excellence Award for demonstrating outstanding achievement.

Other winners of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2013, sponsored by Gordon & MacPhail, included:

Caithness-based business Berry Goods Vodka and Gin Infusions for Best Drink Award
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for Best Marketing Initiative Award
Island Bakery Organics on the Isle of Mull for the Environment Award
Alness-based Aquascot for Entrepreneur Business 2013
Aquascots Easy to Cook Range for the Healthier Food & Drink Award
40 North, Isle of Lewis for Independent Food & Drink Retailer Award
Hebridean Sea Salt, Isle of Lewis for New Business Award
Gigha Seafoods Smoked Gigha Halibut for New Product Award
Restaurant of the Year was Ninth Wave Restaurant on the Isle of Mull
Eilean Dubh in Fortrose picked up the Best Eatery Award
Joint winners of the Young Shining Star Award were Carlyn Kearney of Frankies Fish & Chip Shop, Cafe and Take Away in Brae, Shetland and Seb Jones of Speyside Craft Brewery in Forres
Gilpin Bradley, Ambassador of the Year, said of his Award: What an amazing honour. I am proud to have been associated with this industry for at least 25 years, and to have worked with so many innovative and inspiring people many of whom were attending the Awards ceremony.

In particular, I am proud to be a small part of Scotlands largest food export, Scottish Salmon. In 2012, exports of Scottish Salmon were four times greater than red meat. Currently, Scottish Salmon is exported to over 60 countries worldwide, and I always enjoy a warm reception from new customers who are often keen to learn about the fine food and drink available in the Highlands.

Its a real pleasure for me to have witnessed first-hand the current talent within the sector throughout the Highlands and Islands. These people and businesses are at the heart of a dynamic industry that is key to the future growth and prosperity of the region, and will be the backbone of many vibrant comities, often in rural and remote areas. I am most grateful to our dedicated team at Wester Ross whose passion and commitment to the salmon they grow is always appreciated by our customers.

The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, organised by the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), are the regions most prestigious food and drink awards, celebrating excellence and achievement in the industry, and recognising industry players at the top of their game.

Stephen Rankin, director of UK sales at Gordon & MacPhail and chair of the Awards judging panel, commented: This region can be proud of its contribution to Scotlands food and drink industry. As title sponsor of these Awards, we are delighted to be involved in a process which provides a catalyst for more producers and businesses to shout about their products and showcase the outstanding quality of the produce on offer from this part of the world.

�The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards play an extremely important role in helping highlight to the wider industry that we are home to some of the most innovative businesses in the food and drink sector.�

Almost 300 representatives from the Highlands and Islands food and drink industry packed out the Drumossie Hotel in Inverness. The evening was compered by popular comedian and radio presenter Fred MacAulay, while Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, was also in attendance.

The dinner featured food from top regional producers and suppliers: Gordon & MacPhail; Gigha Seafood; Highland Fine Cheeses; Isle of Mull Cheese; Reids of Caithness; Macleans Highland Bakery; Strathconon Highland Organix; and Swansons Fruit Company.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: The wonderful natural environment of the Highlands and Islands produces the superb raw materials that go into many of Scotlands iconic products. At a time when Scotlands food and drink is craved at home and abroad, it is an excellent time to be rewarding companies for their high quality, top-class produce.

These are local firms that supply to the world, highlighting the regions role in Scotlands food and drink success. The industry has set ambitious new goals for 2017 to reach 16.5 billion turnover and 7.1 billion exports and Im confident these will be achieved with the help of companies in the Highlands and Islands.

HIE is a longstanding supporter of the awards, viewing them as an essential feature of the industry. Chris Taylor, HIEs head of food, drink and tourism, said: HIE is delighted to support this event which showcases the excellence and achievements of the food and drink sector across our region.

We work all year round to help ambitious businesses, with delicious produce, to develop new ranges and reach new markets. The winners here tonight provide a taste of why our island and mainland businesses are helping grow the reputation of the Highlands and Islands' natural larder across the world.

 

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