The north-east's food and drink finalists announced

A total of 27 businesses are celebrating after reaching the finals of the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards 2017.

These prestigious awards welcomed entries from 39 food and drink companies from across the region, recognising, in particular, those that showcased exceptional innovation and excellence within the sector.

The 2017 awards saw a total of 76 entries across all categories with 64 new products being submitted, highlighting strong innovation within the local food and drink industry.

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.

Businesses were recognised in 11 categories including: Best Young Business, Innovation Award, North East Scotland Food & Drink Entrepreneur and Best New Retail Product.

North East Scotland has an excellent base for growth in food, drink, agriculture and seafood, with its wide range of primary produce, new businesses, big name brands and international connections. The food, drink and agriculture sector is a significant part of the region’s economy, directly employing more than 22,000 people. Excluding the whisky sector, it contributes an estimated 20% of Scotland’s food and drink industry output.

The businesses reaching the finals included: Amity Fish Co Limited, Angus & Oink, Associated Seafoods Ltd, Barra Bronzes, Big Beefys Biltong, Castleton Farm Shop, Cocoa Ooze Chocolates, Dean's, Esker Spirits, Fierce Beer, Glen Garioch, Gordon Castle Walled Garden, James Rizza & Sons Ltd, John Ross Jr, Joseph Robertson (Aberdeen) Ltd, Mackie's of Scotland, Mackintosh of Glendaveny, Macleans Highland Bakery, Porter’s Gin, Speyside Craft Brewery Ltd, Speyside Specialities, Summerhouse Drinks Ltd, The Bay Fish & Chips, The Good Granola Company, The Store, Tribe Foods t/a RaRa and Westfield Farms.

Highly regarded within their expert fields, the judging panel had a tough job on their hands. 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 – who said of the judging process:

“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 30 March at the Mercure Aberdeen Ardoe House Hotel and Spa. Tickets are £72 including vat and can be booked online at www.nesfoodanddrinkawards.co.uk

The awards has received sponsorship from a range of organisations including ESS Support Services Worldwide, Aston Scott, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Johnston Carmichael, Mackie’s of Scotland, Maclay, Murray and Spens LLP, Scotland Food & Drink, Skills Development Scotland, Strachans Ltd and The Moray Council.