SEVERAL MORAY-BASED food and drink businesses have made it to the shortlist for the forthcoming North East Scotland Food and Drink Awards.
The prestigious annual awards selected entries from 39 companies from across the region, recognising, in particular, those that showcased exceptional innovation and excellence within the sector.
A total of 76 entries across all categories with 64 new products being submitted, highlighting strong innovation within the local food and drink industry in Moray and throughout the north east.
The awards, delivered in partnership by Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeenshire Council, were open to all food and drink producers based in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray. They are part of an ambitious programme of activity to support food and drink businesses of all sizes through business growth, innovation, strengthening the supply chain, market development and skills development.
Among those shortlisted this year is Speyside Specialities from Buckie, who made the list for the best new retail product with two entries – the Black Pudding Chubb and Haggis Chub. Also based in Buckie, Associated Seafoods are also on the shortlist for their Scottish Smoked Salmon, while Macleans Highland Bakers in Forres are on the list with their Scottish Oatcakes.
In contention for the Best Young Business, Innovation and Best Food Tourism Experience awards is the Gordon Castle Walled Garden in Fochabers, who have made great strides in recent years both with their restaurant and Gin Distillery. Competing in the Innovation section will also be the Forres-based Speyside Craft Brewery Ltd.
Finalists were judged by a panel who are highly regarded within their fields. Cate Devine, Food Writer and Columnist, was joined by Kev Shand, North Sales Manager for Braehead Foods and Angus Bell, Category Manager for Scotland for Morrisons.
Mr Bell said: “I was really impressed at the fantastic range of innovative new products being developed in the North East. Having the opportunity to meet the producers was great for the judging panel and we were all impressed by the passion and drive displayed by so many of the companies.”
The winners of the awards will be announced on Thursday, March 30 at the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa.