Castleton Farm Shop and Mackie’s, both from Aberdeenshire; Cuddybridge Apple Juice, Innerleithen; Highland Chocolatier, Perthshire; J. Lawrie & Sons ‘Jaffy’s’, Mallaig; Ooft! Sauces, Berwick; Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon, Isle of Lewis, and Edinburgh-based Beer52 have all been recognised as part of the government’s new ‘Food Stars’ initiative.
The Food Stars scheme, which is the first of its kind, is part of a wider government drive to inspire entrepreneurial activity across the UK as part of its long-term economic plan.
It’s set to be launched today (Thursday, February 26 2015) by leading figures in food and retail – including including Justin King, former CEO of Sainsbury’s, and Dame Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestle UK and Ireland.
According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the revival of UK food and drink has seen a new generation of entrepreneurs emerge in Scotland – whose innovative ideas and can-do attitudes are creating jobs in local communities and contributing to the record £103 billion generated by the British food chain last year.
Its 50 Food Stars will receive support to help grow their businesses and get more of their produce on supermarket shelves and dinner tables in the UK and across the world.
Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “The UK has always been a place where sparky entrepreneurs come up with great innovations in food and drink, people with the ambition to grow and take on the world, and Scotland is no exception.
“Now is the time to celebrate that success, which is helping to grow our economy - that is why we’ve created Food Stars to recognise the bright innovators of today and support them to become the major players of tomorrow.
“From crisps to kippers, Scottish Food Stars truly represent the best of British and demonstrate the creativity and determination in this country. Our Food Stars show if you want to see a vision for Britain’s bright economic future, look no further than the food and drink industry.”
Ooft! Sauces, based in the Scottish borders, makes its hot pepper sauce with scotch bonnet peppers using an old Trinidad family recipe. Tony Johnson of Ooft! Sauces said: "Ooft! is very proud to be chosen as one of the first Food Stars, a national award recognizing innovation and entrepreneurship in food production. Ooft! is unique among hot sauces being made like fine wine and vatted for over a year before bottling. We hope the Food Stars award will help propel us further, awards provide outlets with clear evidence of quality and recognition by industry bodies. We look forward to working with Defra and the Food and Drink Federation to increase sales and prepare Ooft! for export.”
Dickon Green, of Uig Lodge Smoked Salmon, which produces the high-quality delicacy on the Isle of Lewis, said: "We are hugely excited and very honoured to be selected as one of only 50 food stars. It serves as a great testament to the skill and dedication of the entire Uig Lodge team, past and present. The event will provide a great opportunity to meet other like-minded British businesses and we will benefit from the vast knowledge and experience that will be available to us, both on the day and going forwards. We hope that this will also put the spotlight on some of the wonderful food that the Isle of Lewis and Outer Hebrides has to offer."
DEFRA says food and farming remain the biggest manufacturing sectorsin Britain – employing one in eight people. In 2013, 30,000 new food and drink businesses were set up – generating thousands of jobs in the sector.
It also says the industry’s continual innovation is bringing 16,000 new products to the market each year which is more than France and Germany combined.
According to DEFRA, its 50 Food Stars are helping to grow this sector even further.
It says exports of UK food and drink are booming, with nearly £19 billion worth shipped to more than 150 countries in 2013.
Since 2010 the UK government has opened more than 600 new international markets supporting more businesses to sell their produce abroad.
Following today’s launch, where the UK’s Food Stars will enjoy master classes on the likes of exporting and social media, all 50 will receive a package of continued support from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Cranfield University over the next year. This will include a tailored information service and access to a range of events and development opportunities in agriculture and food, the environment, management and leadership.