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The Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards 2024 launches for entries

By Rachel Smart

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The Highlands & Islands Food and Drink Awards 2024 is now open for entries.
The Highlands & Islands Food and Drink Awards 2024 is now open for entries.

The Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards 2024 (HIFAD) has launched for entries.

Designed to represent the diverse nature of the industry, from producers and processors, to retailers, and tourism and hospitality businesses, the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards showcase and celebrate excellence and achievement in the food and drink industry across the region, stretching from Arran and Argyll, to Moray, to the Outer Hebrides.

This year, there are sixteen exciting categories to enter before the closing date of Monday, June 24. The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, November 1 at venue partner, The Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness. Tickets will be available to buy later in the year.

A number of award categories have already attracted sponsorship from a range of businesses and organisations, including a brand-new category for 2024 – the innovation award, sponsored by Food & Drink TechHUB.

Other categories include best food: food Service award, sponsored by Seafood Scotland, best start up, sponsored by Be Personnel, supply chain business award, sponsored by Wester Ross Fisheries, and primary producer, sponsored by Salmon Scotland.

Best eatery is sponsored by Highland News and Media, whilst the prestigious restaurant of the year award has attracted the sponsorship of Highland Industrial Supplies.

Young ambassador of the year has been sponsored by Scotland Food and Drink, whilst the ambassador of the year award is sponsored by Saffery LLP.

Categories still available for sponsorship in the coming months include: the sustainability award; independent retailer of the year; best street food; best marketing; best food and drink tourism experience; best food - retail; and finally, best drink. Full sponsorship details can be found on the HIE website.

Dunnet Bay Distillers, known for the hugely popular Rock Rose Gin, won best tourism experience in last year’s HIFAD Awards.

Commenting on what winning this award has meant to the business, Joanne Howdle, interpretation and engagement manager, said: “Winning best visitor experience in 2023 at the HIFAD awards is a credit to our Visitor Centre Team who consistently deliver high-quality experiences for a wide range of audiences, and evolve our visitor offer to suit changing visitor needs and expectations.

“This exceptional customer service was not only recognised by the HIFAD Awards, but also by the Scottish Gin Awards when Dunnet Bay Distillery won gin tourist destination of the year in 2022”.

Other winners from last year’s awards include: Island Bakery, based in Mull, winning best food retail; best independent retailer going to Lochcarron Food Centre; and best eatery won by Lerwick-based Kitchen & Bar, No88 Shetland.

Well-known author, and chairperson of Shetland Food and Drink, Marian Armitage, who has been involved in HIFAD Awards since 2019, relishes the contact with businesses, especially the less established, that her role brings.

A former ambassador of the year, and a current member of the steering group, she said: “I always very much enjoy my time working on the HIFAD Awards.

“As chair of Shetland Food & Drink, I’m used to promoting what we do best, and I’d say to those thinking of entering, to consider the benefits of networking and the exposure that the Awards can bring. I look forward to another vibrant year helping with these awards.

“I’m confident that, once again, I, and the others involved in these awards, will be extremely impressed by the quality of those entering.”

Gillian Osborne, head of marketing and communications at Wester Ross Fisheries Ltd, and new to the steering group this year, commented: “I’m excited to bring my experience, particularly in the export market, to bear over the next few months.

“I’d say to any Food & Drink business looking to get involved in the HIFAD Awards to go for it. Getting through to the awards night itself is a fantastic opportunity for a smaller business to network and make valuable connections with larger more established businesses.”

Mike and Yvonne Crook of event and outside catering company, Good Highland Food, were jointly awarded ambassadors of the year 2023.

Yvonne and Mike Crook (centre) picked up the ambassadors of the year award in 2023.
Yvonne and Mike Crook (centre) picked up the ambassadors of the year award in 2023.

Speaking of their award, they said: “We were delighted to win the ambassadors of the year Award in 2023, our 20th year in the business of promoting the fantastic range of Highlands and Islands food and drink we have access to.

“Our mission is to continue to put the region’s food and drink experiences at the heart of everything we do. If you are a food and drink business in the Highlands and Islands, we couldn’t recommend highly enough what the HIFAD awards can do for you.”

Alongside Marian and Gillian, Yvonne is a member of this year’s Awards steering group.

The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards are once again supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Elaine Jamieson, head of food and drink and life sciences at HIE said: “High-quality products from across the Highlands and Islands have a strong competitive advantage connected to place, people and provenance and are sought after across the world.

“The Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the success and achievements of the industry and provides a valuable chance for individuals and businesses to get together, make new contacts and strengthen existing relationships.

“As we have seen with previous winners, the accolade of being amongst the best in class raises the profile of outstanding businesses and products and can lead to significant opportunities. We are delighted to be able to support the awards once again and look forward to meeting friends old and new in November.”

Food and drink businesses throughout the region are invited to follow the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards on their social media, to keep up to date with the latest news and announcements. Find them on @hifooddrink on Twitter and Facebook.

For further information on the categories and to apply, visit: www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com

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