Organisers of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards (HIFDA) are starting 2014 on an upbeat and positive note as they prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prestigious awards. Entries are now being accepted for 12 categories – an earlier start to the process than in previous years – and increased interest is anticipated from businesses across the region, with organisers hoping to surpass last year’s high number of entries.
Supported once again by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the Awards recognise and reward businesses across the Highlands and Islands and the Cairngorms National Park area which are displaying best practice, achieving exceptional standards and pushing boundaries in a key growth industry sector.
The Awards complement the work of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum. Quintin Stevens of the HIFDA Committee said organisers were passionate about generating even more interest in the awards across the industry this year: “We’ve specifically brought forward the opening and closing dates for entries this year to give businesses a chance to consider, complete and submit their entry before they get too distracted when the main season gets well and truly under way.
“Throughout the spring we will be actively encouraging producers to enter their products into one or more of the award categories; owners and managers of pubs, restaurants, cafés, shops and delis to enter the restaurant, eatery and/or retail categories; and businesses throughout the industry striving for quality and exceptional standards to claim recognition for their efforts.
“In fact, everyone who believes in the high quality of local and regional food and drink should be involved in these worthy and prestigious awards.”
Stevens continued: “The Highlands and Islands is bursting at the seams with fresh produce, innovation, passion and extremely effective food supply chains both to our immediate markets and to export markets. So we would urge all of our industry peers to take a few moments to enter for an award this year – before 23rd April – and put themselves at the forefront of our world-renowned and much-loved food and drink industry.”
Gordon & MacPhail, one of the UK’s leading independent wine, spirit and whisky wholesalers, is once again sponsoring the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards. Stephen Rankin, the company’s director of UK sales, said: “This event both showcases and rewards all that is good about the best of food and drink in the Highlands and Islands. The awards really help to put the Highlands and Islands on the map as a region renowned for quality produce.”
Chris Taylor, HIE’s head of tourism, food and drink, considers the food and drink industry to be one of the unquestionably great success stories in the Highlands and Islands in the 21st century. He commented: “Throughout the area, from Shetland to Kintyre and from Buckie to Barra, this industry provides over 35,000 jobs in fishing, farming, distilling, food manufacturing and more.
“These businesses are never short of challenges but many have succeeded in identifying market opportunities for their high quality products which have a strong positive story about the Highlands and Islands.
“The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards represent an excellent opportunity for these enterprises to get their message out to a new and wider audience, an opportunity not to be missed especially in 2014, the year Scotland welcomes the world.”
Further information on all the award categories and how to enter can be found at www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com. Entries can be submitted until Wednesday, 23rd April.
The shortlisted finalists will be announced in late June, and full details of the Awards Dinner & Ceremony on Friday, 24th October at the Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness will be announced in due course