The awards, which were held at London’s Hilton on Park Lane on November 2 and hosted by TV presenter Carol Smillie, were a glittering array of elegance and sophistication, worthy of this dynamic sector.
Each of the six category awards presented celebrated excellence in its many forms: from product and process innovation, to category management, staff development and sustainability initiatives.
In addition to the main category awards, there were awards for the Environment Initiative of the Year, Supply Chain Initiative of the Year and Training Programme of the Year and, for the very first time, The Me and My Factory Editor’s Choice award.
Shortlist of companies
This award was given to a manager from a shortlist of companies interviewed and published within the magazine over the previous year as part of the Me and My Factory series of articles.
To identify the stars of tomorrow, there was a Young Talent of the Year award, while the Personality of the Year award recognised the person who had made the biggest contribution to the sector over the past year.
- Paul Wilkinson (chairman of judges) – chairman of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink
- Jonathon Bayne – technical manager, Waitrose
- Simon Chattock – head of vendor assurance, Compass Group UK & Ireland
- Jean Feord-Marshall – food industry consultant
- Dale Fiddy – strategic development director, NFT Distribution Operations
- Steve Osborn – food and beverage innovation consultant, The Aurora Ceres Partnership
- Rick Pendrous – editor, Food Manufacture
- Jon Poole – chief executive, the Institute of Food Science & Technology
- Jeremy Richardson – director, Turner & Townsend Suiko
- Mike Stones – group editor, Food Manufacture Group
Chosen from across all entries, the Judges’ Star Performer award was given to the company that, in the judges’ opinion, has been involved in an activity that deserved particular recognition – be it in the field of manufacturing, marketing or staff development.
A Small/Medium-sized Enterprise Innovation of the Year award, meanwhile, was presented to the company (typically with less than £10M turnover and fewer than 100 employees) that the judges believed had shown the greatest innovation over the past year through new product development, process innovation or marketing.
The night came to a climax with an overall winner being crowned Food Manufacture Company of the Year.
Attendees at the awards were encouraged to offer their congratulations via the dedicated Twitter hashtag #FoodManAwards.
A bottle of bubbly was awarded to Alan Botham, 2 Sisters Food Group’s technical services director, for the best photo tweet posted on the night.
Further extensive coverage, including video interviews with a selection of the winners, is available at foodmanufacture.co.uk videos. Or visit foodmanawards.co.uk to read the full list of shortlisted candidates and winners.
Food Manufacture Company of the Year
WINNER: Mash Direct
The Food Manufacture Company of the Year recognises the category winner that has gone that step further in its quest for food manufacturing excellence.
The company chosen is selected by the awards’ distinguished judging panel, which comprise leading figures within the UK’s food and drink sector.
The judges admitted to having their work cut out in selecting just one winner from the array of talent on display this year. In the end, a secret ballot was needed to confirm their choice.
The deciding factors in selecting Mash Direct were its excellence in category management and new product development.
The company also continues to raise it game in process innovation and by adopting clever marketing strategies for its extensive range of products.
One judge remarked: “Every year it has new production and marketing ideas coming through. Mash Direct always delivers.”
The Me and My Factory - Editor’s Choice Award
WINNER: Trevor Newman, operations director, Coca-Cola EuropeanPartners (Wakefield)
HIGHLY COMMENDED: Frank Bird, operations director, DélifranceUK (Southall)
Since the editorial judging team found it so hard to pick the winner in this category, with a number of very worthy candidates in the frame to pick up the accolade, the decision was made to present a highly-commended award as well.
Newman triumphed because of his inspired leadership in overseeing efficiency gains at the firm’s Wakefield site.
He is responsible for Europe’s largest soft drink bottling plant, which produces more than 100M cases of product a year.
The judges also praised Newman’s dedication to staff management and motivation.
SHORTLISTED: Ronnie Miles, md, Bells Food Group; Frank Bird, operations director, Délifrance (Southall); Alex Baker, md, Glanbia Performance Nutrition; Tony O’Brien, plant director, Kellogg (Manchester); and William and Charles Eid, joint mds, Signature Flatbreads
Food Manufacture Personality of the Year
WINNER: Janette Graham, group technical learning and development manager, 2 Sisters Food Group
This award recognises the person who has made the biggest contribution to the food and drink manufacturing sector over the past year.
The winner was selected from a poll of shortlisted candidates on FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Graham was one of six contenders nominated by the Food Manufacture editorial team on the basis of her leading role in planning the new Trailblazer apprenticeship programme.
She joined 2 Sisters in 2014 and is leading a group that is developing the Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme for the sector.
SHORTLISTED: Tom Carroll, Graze supply chain director; Colin Dennis, past president of the US Institute of Food Technologists; Andy Morling, head of the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit; David Potts, chief executive, Morrisons; and Ian Wright, director general, Food and Drink Federation
Young Talent of the Year
WINNER: Wojciech Kalinowski from Bradgate Bakery
Since joining Samworth Brothers’ subsidiary Bradgate Bakery in 2014, aged 18, Kalinowski has shown a huge commitment to developing his skills, including those related to continuous improvement.
During his apprenticeship, he completed several improvement projects linked to the Bradgate’s development plan, which saved his employer significant sums of money.
The judges said: “Wojciech has been doing some pretty good stuff. The savings made for the company through the work he has done certainly deserves the award.”
SHORTLISTED: Raheem Gordon from Addo Food Group; Robert Powell from Dunbia; Sarah Richards from Winning Blend / The Welsh Pantry; Josh Sloan from Coca-Cola European Partners; and Molly Smith from Weetabix
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Innovation of the Year
WINNER: Nim’s Fruit Crisps
Nim’s is commited to bringing healthy foods to the children’s market. Its decision to move production of its air-dried fruit and vegetable crisps from eastern Europe to the UK was momentous.
It was a move its proprietor Nimisha Raja did not take lightly – she sold her home and invested everything she had in setting up a production facility in Kent, equipped with bespoke machinery.
Nim’s believes that bringing production in-house gives the company control over its products, from start to finish.
The judges said: “This was a really personal entry. Raja really put her whole heart, soul and life on the line to push her ideas through and that takes a lot of commitment.”
SHORTLISTED: Alara Wholefoods; Davison; and Rise Bakery
Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year
WINNER: Jordans, Dorset & Ryvita (ABF)
Since 2012, Jordans, Dorset & Ryvita, the cereals and biscuit products manufacturing subsidiary of Associated British Foods (ABF), has improved all areas of its operations, including safety, product quality, cost and efficiency.
This has been achieved by capital investment, together with a great team of people. Jordans, Dorset & Ryvita was the unanimous choice of the judges in this fiercely contested category.
The judges said: “Jordans, Dorset & Ryvita demonstrated a good mixture of new product development, process improvement and capital investment.”
SHORTLISTED: Alara Wholefoods; Kolak Snack Foods; Nim’s Fruit Crisps; Tommy Tucker; and Weetabix
Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year
Ginsters, part of Samworth Brothers, claims to be the largest brand in the savoury pastry category. It is also one of the largest private sector employers in Cornwall with more than 540 employees.
It contributes more than £14M to the local economy, sourcing 9,500 raw ingredients locally, including 2,500t of Cornish beef.
Its winning entry demonstrated a track record of productivity improvements. The judges said: “Ginsters provided lots of tangible evidence of the improvements it had made throughout the year.”
SHORTLISTED: Addo Food Group; Premier Foods; Premier Foods Cadbury Amaze Bites; Rise Bakery; and Winning Blend/The Welsh Pantry
Beverages Manufacturing Company of the Year
WINNER: Wessanen UK (Clipper)
Clipper is an iconic tea brand owned by Wessanen UK, which has demonstrated strong growth nationally and through exports to more than 50 countries.
Based at Beaminster in West Dorset, where it is the largest employer in the region, Clipper has a strong heritage of ethical practice and responsible sourcing.
It claims to have been the first brand to offer green tea in UK supermarkets as well as the first UK tea to carry the Fairtrade mark.
One judge remarked: “They’re a relatively small company in a tough market where there’s lots of competition for shelf-space and they have a good story to tell.”
SHORTLISTED: Aston Manor Cider; Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP); and Solution Sciences (What a Melon)
Chilled & Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year
WINNER: Mash Direct
Mash Direct is a family-owned farming and food enterprise in Northern Ireland producing ready meals, potato and vegetable side dishes.
It turns over £15M, employs 180 staff and supplies a range of more than 40 chilled vegetable dishes, free from artificial colourings, preservatives and flavourings and 100% gluten-free.
Mash is now listed in more than 4,000 stores, of which 1,000 in Britain were added in 2015/16 alone.
The judges said: “Mash is very small, but it is very passionate about innovation and is always doing something different.”
SHORTLISTED: Bradgate Bakery; Davison Canners; Quinfresh; Samworth Brothers; and SK Foods
Dairy & Frozen Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year
WINNER: Kelly’s of Cornwall (part of R&R, now Froneri)
The 2016 marketing campaign for R&R Ice Cream’s (now called Froneri) brand Kelly’s of Cornwall was based on consumer research.
Since 2008, Kelly’s sales have more than doubled. However, Froneri, a joint venture between Nestlé and R&R, wanted to appeal more to younger consumers with a campaign focusing on the brand’s heritage, provenance and Cornish roots.
Praising the firm’s commitment to the local sourcing of milk and clotted cream, the judges highlighted Kelly’s investment in formulating new flavours – such as lemon curd tart.
Food Manufacture’s associate editor Noli Dinkovski received the award on behalf of Froneri.
SHORTLISTED: Freshasia Foods; and Wyke Farms
Meat & Poultry Manufacturing Company of the Year
Chicken processor and supplier Cargill employs 3,000 people in a fully-integrated supply chain at farms, hatcheries and processing sites in the UK, France, the Netherlands and Russia.
In 2013/14, it embarked on an ambitious improvement plan after enduring challenging market conditions in the previous three years.
Since then, it has continued to meet new, stretching performance targets. These have delivered improved on-site health and safety and a turnaround from loss to profit.
The judges said: “Cargill was a very strong entry, particularly around its supply chain integration. It has introduced lots of new technologies, while continuing to reduce campylobacter contamination.”
SHORTLISTED: ABP UK; Dunbia; and Moy Park
Judges’ Star Performer
WINNER: SK Foods
The Judges’ Star Performer rewards an entrant that demonstrates outstanding achievement in one particular area of activity.
Sourcing ingredients from around the world, chilled ethnic snack producer SK Foods has really stepped up its game to ensure top quality standards and full traceability of ingredients sourced from its diverse supply chain.
The judges were impressed by the firm’s dogged determination to ensure its suppliers maintained the highest safety and quality standards.
“The integrity of supply chains has become increasingly important, and for a company to put in special measures to control that is definitely worthy of recognition,” they said.
SHORTLISTED: ABP UK; Davison Canners; Premier Foods; and Rise Bakery
Environmental Initiative of the Year
WINNER: Wyke Farms
In another fiercely contested category, Environmental Initiative of the Year, Wyke Farms triumphed because of its 100% Green project, which went far beyond standard sustainability work.
The business has taken on the role of industry ambassador to change food and farming from the field, through processing to retail.
Wyke is not only reducing its own environmental footprint but encouraging others to follow its example.
“Wyke is consistently working behind the scenes with its farmer partners to get to the grassroots of tackling environmental issues in the dairy sector – it has raised the bar,” said the judges.
SHORTLISTED: ABP UK; Ginsters; Premier Foods; Samworth Brothers; and Winning Blend/The Welsh Pantry
Supply Chain Initiative of the Year
What singled out Cornish pasty maker Ginsters’ entry in this category was its determination to improve forecasting accuracy in order to boost customer service and to manage costs more effectively.
The firm’s Improved Forecast Accuracy Project enhanced accuracy from 83% last year to 94% this year and heralded significant reductions in offsite frozen material storage and onsite storage too.
One judge said: “I know from my own experience that forecasting can be a real challenge, because you’re at the whim of two key elements: the customer and the weather.
“Ginsters has recognised that in short shelf-life chilled products, it’s even more so.”
SHORTLISTED: Aston Manor Cider; Ginsters; and Moy Park
Training Programme of the Year
WINNER: Moy Park
Moy Park won top marks in the Training Programme of the Year Award for its Sprint graduate management programme.
This training programme is aimed at developing the next generation of leaders within the company.
It focuses its attention on sharpening its graduates’ skills in key areas, such as: communication, interpersonal skills and financial awareness.
The programme sets up a high performance environment that is both flexible and sustainable, driving participants towards successful careers within Moy Park.
One judge enthused: “It’s tough to get onto any graduate scheme and this one would offer an amazing start to anyone’s food manufacturing career.”
SHORTLISTED: Rise Bakery; and Weetabix