Highlands & Islands Food and Drink awards open early for entries

A positive start to 2014 as organisers of the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Awards (HIFDA) prepare to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the prestigious awards.

Entries are now being accepted for 12 categories.

It’s a earlier start to the process than in previous years, but increased interest is anticipated from businesses across the region, with organisers hoping to surpass last year’s high entry numbers.

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.

Previous winner, Western Isles based company Hebridean Sea Salt’s Managing Director Natalie Crayton, told what the prestigious awards mean: “Winning the New Business Award and achieving a Highly Commended in the New Product category has been fantastic for us as a business.

“It has underpinned our ambitions to grow the business into a recognisable Scottish food brand and a world class product.

“Since winning the award we have achieved listings in 400 Co-op stores, Waitrose, Ocado and Aldi.”

The Awards complement the work of the Highlands and Islands Food & Drink Forum, and Quintin Stevens of the HIFDA Committee said organisers were passionate about generating even more interest in the awards amongst 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,” he said.

“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,” he continued.

“So we would urge all of our industry peers to take a few moments to enter for an award this year before April 23rd – and put themselves at the forefront of our world-renowned and much-loved food and drink industry.”

Further information on all the award categories and how to enter can be found at www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com.

Entries can by submitted until Wednesday, April 23rd. The shortlisted finalists will be announced in late June, and full details of the Awards Dinner & Ceremony on Friday, October 24th, at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness will be announced in due course.