2019 Categories

There are 13 categories you can enter directly.  

Ambassador of the Year and Young Ambassador of the Year is by nomination (forms below).

Ambassador of the Year Award

This special award recognises the outstanding contribution in the Highlands & Islands food and drink industry, be they male or female, young or old, or a duo. The award celebrates and pays tribute to the hard work, commitment, dedication, passion and innovation demonstrated within the sector.

The award is open to public nominations until the end of August, with the Awards Steering Group casting the final vote.

 Sponsored by Saffery Champness.

Best Drink Award


The judges will be looking for a business, big or small, that can demonstrate success in the alcoholic and/or soft drinks market; a commitment to locally sourced products where possible; robust processes and research that led to the product(s) being created in the first place; a sound marketing strategy for sustainability.

You may enter one single drink OR a product range (3 product maximum), e.g. a range of juices or craft beers of varying flavours if they are unified by branding or ingredients, etc.

You can only submit ONE range per company.

Please note that in order to be eligible to enter the Best Distilled category you must own and operate a still, and manufacture and bottle in Scotland.

All entries in this category will be asked to submit product sample for a tasted judging session in September (we will contact you in good time to arrange product samples).

Judging for this award will be 70% taste/packaging and 30% written entry.


Best Eatery

This award has been created specifically to include those eateries, e.g. a café, bistro, deli, gastropub, takeaway or visitor attraction serving food, etc., who deserve to be recognised but not against those who class themselves solely as ‘restaurants’. These establishments should be able to demonstrate the most innovative and consistent use of produce from food or drink suppliers in the region, great tasting food, outstanding service levels, value for money, return custom and a pleasant environment.

NB. You cannot enter both the Best Eatery Award AND the Restaurant of the Year Award unless you can clearly demonstrate you have two clearly different businesses on one site.

Best Marketing Campaign Award

If you devise and implement a successful marketing campaign, your business should reap the rewards with greater sales, return custom and a rising profile that is the envy of your competitors.

This award is for businesses that can demonstrate a clear marketing objective that has been put into practice and delivered with tangible results showing creativity, innovation and imagination during 2018/2019.

Food & Drink Business Growth Award

The Food & Drink Business Growth Award is open to any food & drink business whose HQ (or the business) is located in The Highlands & Islands and Cairngorms National Park Authority area. The award recognises a business who has shown fantastic business performance, entrepreneurial flair, strategic planning, innovation, and strong leadership.

Judges will be looking for businesses that evidence how they have achieved the following:

  • Business Performance: Strong business management with consistent growth supported by a solid financial performance
  • Entrepreneurial Flair: A dynamic, resilient individual who operates at a high standard
  • Strategic Planning: a well-executed strategy that continues to be developed and delivered
  • Innovation: the business has continually identified and developed new ideas to aid growth
  • Leadership: an individual dedicated to developing his/her business and his/her people

Sponsored by Johnston Carmichael

Export Award

Developing your customer base is essential for growing a sustainable business and this Award seeks to recognise progress in this field, through export markets. This category is for businesses operating in international markets, perhaps overcoming geographical difficulties such as serving or working from a remote area or developing effective communication strategies to cope with multilingual markets, etc. This is for the period 2018/2019.

Judges will be looking for businesses that have made a conscious effort to develop export markets; to overcome export challenges and have shown a clear commitment to international trade; that can demonstrate export growth (e.g. increased export turnover); have established a strong export brand and can show a clear understanding of the supply chain in the export market.

Sponsored by XPO Logistics

Healthier Food & Drink Award

This award recognises food and drink based businesses, caterers and retailers, products or services that have demonstrated a strong commitment to developing, incorporating and promoting good nutrition and healthy eating qualities into its product or services during 2018/2019. Judges will be looking for local food and drink products, caterers, retailers, services or initiatives that can demonstrate a commitment to healthy eating through new product development or reformulation of existing product/s; a marketing campaign supporting healthier eating choices or by introducing a healthy eating culture into its business or establishment.

The product, service or business development process will also be assessed for innovation, meeting market need, evidence of health benefits, ongoing product, staff training, service or business potential and overall impact in relation to healthy living.

Independent Retailer of the Year

Without retailers, many of the wonderful products created and produced in the region would remain unseen or perhaps not exist in the first place! To help celebrate those independent retailers fighting for their place amongst the chains, supermarkets and ‘big boys’ of the high street and internet, this category is open to all food and drink retailers within the region, both those with a shop front, those solely trading online and those who do both. Examples include farm shops, delis, fruit farms, butchers, corner shops.

Sponsored by Sharon Leon

Innovation Award

It is globally recognised that innovation is key to business growth. In Scotland there is now a consensus of opinion that innovation is much broader than technology or the development of new inventions. It is simply the commercial exploitation of ideas. The inclusion of innovation in the work place, working practices, procurement, developing skills, reducing carbon foot prints, reducing inequality and service innovation are now seen as areas where real impact can be achieved. 

This award will reflect all of the above. Entrants must demonstrate that they have taken a step change in their business in: product research, overcome a technical challenge and/or development in the food supply chain e.g. developing new ingredients to cut waste or improved yield.

Sponsored by MacRoberts LLP

New Business Award

This Award is for a new business, started since 1st January 2017. A producer, a retailer or foodservice outlet displaying excellence in the use of local food and drink products or a service provider contributing significantly to the success of the sector. Judges were looking for businesses they felt had great potential to further contribute to the local food and drink economy or further enhance the perception of the region’s food and drink.

The business has to be a newly trading business as opposed to a new part/division etc.

New Product Award

The rich variety of products available from Highlands and Islands’ businesses is one of the industry’s strengths. In this category the judges are looking for outstanding new products that have been brought to market (domestic or international) since 1st January 2018 and which demonstrate both initial market success and ongoing potential, creativity, imaginative use of ingredients, a unique selling point, application of new technologies or marketing strategies. This award will be split into Food and Drink.

You may enter one single product OR a new product range (maximum of 3 products), e.g. dressings or chutneys of varying flavours but unified by branding/ingredients etc. You can only submit ONE range per company.

Please note that in order to be eligible to enter a distilled product category you must own and operate a still, and manufacture and bottle in Scotland.

Judging for this award will be 70% taste/packaging and 30% written entry.

Restaurant of the Year

This award is given to the restaurant that can demonstrate the most innovative and consistent use of produce from food or drink suppliers in the region, great tasting food, outstanding service levels and a pleasant environment. Entry is open to all eating establishments in the Highlands and Islands and Cairngorms National Park area who classed themselves as a ‘restaurant’, either by size, number of covers, menu choices & price or any other criteria.

NB - You cannot enter both the Restaurant of the Year Award AND Best Eatery Award unless you can clearly demonstrate you have two clearly different businesses on one site.

Sponsored by MacGregor Industrial Supplies

Primary Agricultural Producer of the Year

This award is open to farmers, crofters and all primary agricultural producers.  We are looking for great examples of how you have developed a food or drink product beyond the farm gate. You might be collaborating with other local suppliers or stakeholders (such as butchers, restaurants) to help drive aspects of the final product for the consumer.  We want to know more about your story and what you are doing differently to diversify and adapt to the market.  Judges will be keen to understand what makes your product unique, your plans for growth and the sustainability of the product. 

Sponsored by Be Personnel

Sustainability Award

This award will recognise businesses or organisations who have taken their environmental, social and financial responsibilities to the next level - showcasing best practice in the production and distribution of food and drink products or services.  The award will also look to reward companies that have looked beyond their own operations and engaged with their supply chains to mitigate environmental and social impact e.g. carbon reduction and waste minimisation, responsible procurement and ethical initiatives, and innovative partnerships between suppliers and other stakeholders.

Young Ambassador of the Year

This award recognises a young person’s outstanding contribution and achievement in the Highlands and Islands food and drink sector, celebrating their commitment, passion and work to develop the industry in the region, their outstanding qualities and potential. The award is open to any person aged between 16 and 26 on 3 July 2019. The individual should be nominated by an employer, colleague, mentor etc.

Sponsored by Brook Street

Key Dates 2019

Call for Entries - Wednesday 17 April
Entry deadline – Wednesday 3 July
Judging Day – Tuesday 3 September
Shortlist Announcement – Thursday 5 September
Awards Ceremony – Friday 15 November

Sponsors & Partners

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Category Sponsors

Brrok Street