Key players in food and drink retail and innovation will lead the judging at the revamped North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards, providing valuable feedback and insights to entrants across Aberdeen., Aberdeenshire and Moray.

Waitrose and SPAR Scotland senior figures are joining other industry leaders on the judging panel for the awards, which celebrate excellence and innovation and recognise investment in people, products and processes across this diverse and dynamic sector. The awards, delivered by Opportunity North East (ONE) in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, has been a springboard for market development for over 30 years.

The new-look awards offer practical benefits to entrants and winners, to support the next generation of food and drink manufacturers and producers with a range of market development opportunities. Entrants will benefit from judges from across the UK sharing their knowledge and providing feedback on entries. Meanwhile, new category prizes will provide practical support, including access to the new product development kitchen at ONE SeedPod when it opens next year.

Martyn Lee, Executive Chef for Waitrose, who leads their food innovation team, will judge the best new food product category. He has worked within food development for over 20 years, first within the restaurant sector and for the past 14 years in manufacturing and retail. He is passionate about bringing quality, exciting products to market, using data-led insights including AI.

Martyn Lee said: “I admire anyone who sets up a new food or drink business. It’s a very exciting industry to be part of, but it takes a lot of dedication and passion to succeed. That’s why these awards are so important because they support new businesses. I’m honoured to be asked to judge.”

CJ Lang senior trading manager Mark Spalding is another judge this year with 40 years’ experience in the wholesale delivered and convenience store sector. He supports the 300+ SPAR Scotland retailers supplied by CJ Lang to meet their customers’ needs, taking account of regional and local demand. Mark works closely and collaboratively with many suppliers to bring new products to market.

Mark Spalding said: “These awards are a platform for businesses to showcase what they produce, raise their profile, and ultimately gain increased distribution and sales. Feedback from the judges around product suitability, relevance and commercials should be used by businesses to adapt and tailor their proposition so that they are more likely to gain traction with potential customers. Engagement with existing and prospective new suppliers through the awards allows us to keep our finger on the pulse and be aware of the latest innovations.”

ESS, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, is the title sponsor for the awards, and SPAR Scotland, Strachans, Serco NorthLink Ferries, CMS and Scotland Food & Drink support the awards.

Graham Singer, Culinary Director for Scotland, Energy, Government & Infrastructure at ESS, said: "ESS is proud to be sponsoring the North East Scotland Food & Drink Awards again this year. We are passionate about the fantastic products that are grown and produced on our doorstep here in north east Scotland and work with many local suppliers across the region. The awards are a great opportunity to celebrate Scottish food and I’m excited to be part of the judging panel this year alongside one of our head chefs.”

The awards are free to enter for manufacturing and production businesses based in the region and this year’s categories include the best new food and drink products through to the most innovative company, rising star and team of the year.

Businesses should enter the awards via the website. The closing date for entries is 8 March 2024, and winners will be announced at the awards dinner on 9 May 2024 at Meldrum House Country Hotel, Oldmeldrum.

More like this…

View all