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Launch of the Williamson Foodservice Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards 2009

Entries open today (19 May) for the 2009 Williamson Foodservice Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards, a celebration of the best of food and drink produced and served in the area. The Awards, organised by the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Forum and supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scotland Food & Drink, are open to individuals, businesses and organisations throughout the Highlands and Islands. They aim to promote high standards by rewarding success in a wide range of categories including those for new products, partnership working, developing skills, encouraging healthy products and for the best eating place.

An exciting new Award for 2009 is the Young Ambassador of the Year, recognising the important role of our young people in the industry, both today and in the future.

The food and drink sector is a key industry across the Highlands and Islands, employing over 30,000 people and generating sales in excess of £1billion per annum, with a diverse range of products from fish, shellfish, meat, preserves, dairy, biscuits and confectionary.

Hazel Gordon, chairman of the Highland & Islands Food & Drink Forum, said: “We are fortunate to have some of the best produce in the world here in the Highlands and Islands. Through the Awards, the Forum aims to promote innovation and collaboration and to encourage high standards across the food and drink industry. We are particularly pleased to have been able to add the new Young Ambassador of the Year Award to this year’s event, giving us the opportunity to highlight bright new talent in the sector and our potential stars of the future. 

Hazel continued: “On behalf of the Forum, I’d particularly like to thank all the Award sponsors for their support of this valuable event for our industry.”

Paul McLaughlin, Scotland Food & Drink Chief Executive, said: “Scotland Food & Drink is proud to sponsor the Innovation Award. As our name suggests, our remit is to make Scotland known as a Land of Food and Drink and without innovation and creativity in the industry, this would not be possible.  Fortunately however, we have an industry that is really growing in terms of its innovative approach and so I look forward to all that these awards will deliver”.

Iain Sutherland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “As proven with five prizes in the 2009
Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, the food and drink industry in Highlands and Islands has both an excellent range and quality of products and is winning an enviable reputation. We are delighted to support the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink awards and to see businesses and individuals in our region winning recognition of their achievements.”

Gary Williamson, managing director of Williamson Foodservice and title sponsor of the event, said: “We are delighted to continue our support for the Awards, as we believe they are an excellent way to encourage higher standards throughout the industry. We are particularly delighted to see recognition of the importance of promoting new talent through the addition of the Young Ambassador of the Year Award.”

Entries for the Awards are open until 20 July 2009. For further information on the Awards and full details of how to enter, phone 0845 838 2748 or visit