Food and drink awards that will boost your business

Entering your food and drink awards can be good for your business – even if you don’t win. Here’s a round-up of some of the most prominent, valuable and respected awards that you might want to consider.

Putting your food business in the spotlight can pay off, and not just if you win. Awards are trusted by retailers and consumers alike so entering an award can be an excellent, and relatively easy, way of raising your profile, gaining validation, networking and finding new partners, channels and markets.

Five additional reasons to enter food and drink awards

At the very least, writing an entry can help you reflect on all you and your business have achieved. It will give you an opportunity to look at your business from a different perspective – how it stands out from your competitors. Consider awards as a part of your overall marketing plan. It’s a relatively cost-effective way of gaining positive media coverage and, if you’re shortlisted, can really open doors for you.

  • Free marketing across a number of platforms to a wider audience than you may have had before. This has a number of spin-off benefits like elevating the status and credibility of your company brand and product(s).
  • Publicity and visibility – you can leverage your submission with press releases, blogs and social media building the continuity and conversation around your brand. If you win, your business will generate a real buzz and receive even more favourable media coverage and traction. Moreover, you will be noticed by investors, distributors and retailers (and this includes the judging panel).
  • Networking opportunities – while COVID-19 has temporarily restricted in-person networking, awards can still raise your profile enough to draw attention from peers and supply chains, as well as new customers and retailers.
  • Validation and credibility – whether you’ve been nominated, voted for, short-listed or taken home the trophy, you are receiving an endorsement for your business from a trusted source.
  • Boosts team spirit –  being an award-winner, or runner up, raises staff morale (and yours too!), and can help with recruitment too.

Choosing the right award for you

A quick search online will reveal a dizzying array of competitions, awards and events. First, reflect on the kind of award that would suit you and your business, and what you hope to gain from entering. Do you want to go product specific? Or nominate your wider brand?

If you’re just starting out, check out the awards with start-up categories, or focus on local or regional competitions. If you’re a more established company with a presence abroad, you could look to international awards. If you have a large social media following, an award based on votes could be a good option. As many awards charge a fee to enter them factor this into your marketing budget and prioritise the most relevant.

Great Taste Awards (Guild of Fine Food)

Great Taste food and drink awards logo

As much accreditation as award, Great Taste is the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards. Having the renowned 1, 2 or 3-star sticker on your product elevates its status and is seen as a prestigious seal of approval. Not only that, but it stands out on a crowded shelf.

Organised by the Guild of Fine Food, Great Taste is just that: validation based on taste not marketing. The judging panel consists of over 500 chefs, buyers, food writers and retailers.  To enter you need “an exceptional product”. Standards – and competition – are high.

Entries are open early in the year and there is a fee for each product entered. This varies depending on the size of your business (between £38 – £240 in 2018), and there is a cap of around 13,000 on the total number of entries so it pays to enter early.

Previous winners include small independent cottage brands such as Pinnock Dry Gin to supermarket shelf products like Mahi sauce.

FreeFrom Awards

The FreeFrom Food Awards are the UK’s only award for free-from food and drink so products that win are seen as benchmarks in the business. But don’t think you wouldn’t have a chance against bigger brands: “small producers and supermarkets compete on a level playing field” say the Free From Food Awards, which are independent, supported by sponsors and entry fees. They run two awards: Free From Food Awards and Free From Christmas Awards.

To qualify for entry to the FreeFrom Food Awards, all entries must be free of at least one of the 14 major allergens.

Entry fees are scaled to your company turnover as per the thresholds below:

  • Micro – turning over up to £300,000 = £105+VAT per entry
  • Small – turning over between £301,000 and £3,000,000 = £150+VAT per entry
  • Large – turning over more than £3,000,001 = £185+VAT per entry

FDF awards (The Food and Drink Federation)

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Awards recognise and reward excellence for innovation, competitiveness and talent in the food and drink industry. Food and drink manufacturers, retailers, producers, growers, hospitality and other supply chain contributors such as researchers, distributors and local authorities can apply.

A long list of categories can be found on their site and entry is free before 28 February 2021. You can enter as many categories as you like and nominate multiple projects/colleagues. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 16 September 2021.

The winners from 2020 will be announced in Feb 21. Previous winners include The Meatless Farm Co (Emerging Business) and Company Shop Group (Innovation).

Good Food Awards (food service)

Also known as the Blue Ribbon for Delicious Dishes, these free-to-enter awards “recognise those who strive for culinary excellence within their field”. Anyone offering Delicious Dishes can apply to enter and this includes food products. Good Food have diversified their awards into various sub-categories to include takeaways, cafes and gastro pubs.

Winners for 2021 were announced in November and include: Knights Farm Shop, Fluxton and Hello Burger, Sidcup. You can register your offering online for next year’s awards.

Nourish (health food)

Dubbed as the “toughest health food awards” in the UK, the Nourish Awards has set out to celebrate the new generation of foods that are made without gluten, dairy, refined sugar and artificial additives. 2020 winners included: THEENK Tea; Ketogenic and Mindful Chef.

There are 25 categories including paleo, plant based, high protein and sports nutrition, beauty foods, gut friendly and low sugar. The Nourish Awards are judged by leading industry experts and professionals including nutritionists, nutritional therapists, health & wellness coaches, chefs, free-from and health food experts.

Enter as many products as you like and choose up to 3 categories for each bearing in mind the £95 per product fee. The 2021 Nourish Awards & 2021 Nourish Children Awards will open for entries on the 29th January, 2021. Entries will close on the 29th April, 2021. Judging will take place mid-June.

The Grocer

The Grocer Gold Awards consist of a mixture of self-entry and special categories. They are judged by a group of “industry VIPs”, invited by The Grocer, as well as researched by industry bodies. Amongst the categories are Product Awards such as Direct to Consumer (a new category reflective of pandemic selling), Brand, SME and Drinks Brand. There is also Start-up; Initiative of the year and more.

2019 winners include: Doom Bar (Drinks Brand); Belazu Ingredient Company (Employer).

The Grocer is accepting registrations of interest for 2021. Entry fee is unknown at time of writing.

Food Manufacture Excellence

The Food Manufacture Group provides news, insight and analysis into the fast-moving world of food and drink manufacturing. Flagship events include the annual Business Leaders’ Forum and Food Manufacture Excellence Awards. Register your interest on the site for 2021 awards.

These awards aim to highlight category leaders and trendsetters. Entries must demonstrate significant achievement in their category in at least three of the following areas: customer relationship building, quality assurance; environment and efficiency, skills development and training and business development.

Categories include:

  • Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Chilled, Fresh and Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Free-From Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Frozen Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year
  • Plant-Based Manufacturing Company of the Year (New)
  • Small food manufacture company of the year  

Finalists for this year include: Skinny Tonic; Freaks of Nature and The Abergavenny Fine Food Company.

Soil Association BOOM Awards

The Best of Organic Market (BOOM) Awards are the UK’s only dedicated organic awards. The comprehensive award category list includes Organic Food & Drink Product awards and a number of Business Awards including some specifically for Food & Drink, Farming, Beauty & Wellbeing and Fashion & Textiles.

All product entries are blind tasted by an expert panel of judges including chefs, restaurateurs and food experts, alongside Soil Association Certification staff, celebrity foodies and journalists.

2019 winners include: Godminster (Vintage Organic Cheddar) and Nairns Oatcakes (Organic Super Seeded).

BOOM offers free entry for smaller businesses (certified by Soil Association Certification and with a certified organic turnover of less than £250k). It’s £60 for Soil Association-certified businesses with +£250k organic sales turnover (and for smaller businesses that want to make more than 2 entries) and £120 for businesses certified with another certification body. Discounts available for  multiple product entries.

Entries are now open and close on 1st March 21. Finalists will be announced in May/June 2021.

Food & Drink Business Awards

The Food & Drink Business Awards focus on celebrating the very best in food and drink manufacturing, retail, and food service across Ireland. The awards recognise “innovation through excellence with a focus on smart factories, new technologies, quality, safety and security of produce”.

Categories include: micro food and drink company of the year, free-from company of the year, vegan company of the year, food and drink innovation of the year, spirit company of the year and more. Previous winners include: Rye River Brewing Company; Applegreen; Gino’s Gelato and Manor Farm.

Competition will launch in March 2021 and close in May 2021 with finalists being announced in June.

PETA (vegan food)

Now in their eighth year, PETA’s Vegan Food Awards highlight some of the most delicious and exciting new vegan offerings. Big brands go head to head here but also smaller brands are included.

Good Housekeeping

These awards are big brands voted for by readers of Good Housekeeping magazine – one to aspire to when you hit the shelves perhaps.

GQ Food & Drink Awards

This is another one decided by voting – customers can nominate your eaterie or drinking establishment, giving you a chance of global recognition in GQ Magazine.

We often help customers with award entries, so if you have questions about which awards to enter or want some support creating your application, please contact us.