The very best people and companies in agriculture were celebrated on Friday at the eighth Food and Farming Awards, with a presentation hosted by agriculture minister Jim Paice in the gothic splendour of the House of Commons Members’ Dining Room.
An audience drawn from every part of the food and farming supply chain enjoyed the wit of Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley as after dinner speaker and host for the awards ceremony.
(The winners show off their awards)
The full list of awards is as follows:
FARM BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AND WINNER OF THE GENUS TROPHY FOR 2010
The business is impressive, starting with a few acres in Lancashire in the late 80s to becoming the hugely successful business it is today.
The judges noted the way they captured the name Gressingham and the breed , and turned these into a fantastically strong brand, the name that as appeared on restaurant menus for many years. Gressingham understood the need to create a brand, and to own that brand – they are a superb example of a farm and food chain business who provide exactly what the market want, and they continue to drive that market forward opening up new markets.
Today, Gressingham Foods has a turnover of £90m – up from £30m in 2005-06 – enjoying 16% growth in the UK alone last year. It supplies all the major multiples from Waitrose to Sainsbury to Lidl, Booths and Costco and the major foodservice providers such as Brakes and 3663 as well as many independent suppliers.
Highly commended Farm Business of the Year
Oaklands Farm Eggs
What began as a small farm with a few dozen cows, a couple of hundred ewes and a thousand laying hens is today one of the largest egg operations in Europe. By 2012 investment will total more than £20 million and plans for an additional processing and packing facility at Ruabon near Wrexham to better serve the needs of Oaklands’ 32 producer partners and allow for further expansion. At the Griffiths’ Oaklands site, Oaklands Farm Eggs is home to nearly 1.6m hens using a unique colony system that provides a higher welfare caged environment. Today, Oaklands produces nearly 500million eggs a year for the retail and foodservice sectors and the contracted producers which between them keep another million birds under free-range and organic systems, supply a further 365 million eggs. The judges were very impressed with the steady growth and investment this company has made.
PROGRESSIVE FARMER OF THE YEAR, SPONSORED BY AGROVISTA.
Nick Taylor of TC & N Taylor Ltd
Nick Taylor is an organic vegetable farmer and pig farmer from North Shropshire. His desire and determination to develop the family business has led to annual growth of 40% through extended seasons for carrots and potatoes and reduced losses on the pig unit meaning more pigs reared per sow per year. Nick’s willingness to trial new techniques and his drive to grow profitability received praise from the judges who were impressed by his growing skills and commercial acumen.
Andy Fussell of Fussell Farms
Andy Fussell businesses include a farm, a haulage business, a building supplies merchant and food processor producing speciality cooking oils. Fussels Fine Foods followed a decade later when oilseed rape prices fell sharply and he needed to find a way of adding value to a crop that was central to the farm’s financial performance. The judges were particularly impressed by his environmental credentials with used oil collected from customers and recycled into biodiesel to fuel several of the delivery vehicles while the pressed rapeseed is sold as rape meal to livestock producers.
RURAL ENTERPRISE AWARD – SPONSORED BY NOVARTIS ANIMAL HEALTH
The Philpot family began hosting the Essex County Show at its Barleylands farm near Billericay in 1986 and the from that grew a range of office, industrial and storage units along with a flourishing livery enterprise, a farmers’ market, a campsite, indoor and outdoor adventure play areas and modern conferencing facilities. At the heart of the Barleylands offering is a craft village covering more than 50 different types of craft, two restaurants and children’s visitor centre that hosts a range of vintage farm machinery and welcomes more than 5,000 children and students each year.
Packington Moor Farm
Packington Moor Farm is a superb example of a commercial arable and livestock farm supporting several diversified businesses that capture the full value of the farmed livestock while the traditional stone buildings have been renovated to provide an idyllic wedding venue. Packington Moor Farm Shop and Cafe where over 50% of the goods sold are produced in the Packington kitchens and up to 30% of the fruit and vegetables are grown on the farm. The events business, Packington Moor Events, organises and caters for more than 70 weddings a year.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD - SPONSORED BY MOLE VALLEY FARMERS
Mawsons of Bailey Ground
What started as a dairy farm and supplier of fresh milk to local businesses has grown into a diversified dairy processing and retail business with hotel and conference centre. Milk is often seen as a category where innovation beyond the basic staples of cream, butter, yoghurts and ice creams is considered difficult, but the Mawson family have shown great innovation and even launched their own cappuccino milk variety.
Respect for the environment and the desire to leave the land in a fit state for future generations are the objectives that govern every decision at Warburtons Farms. Featuring two Sites of Biological Importance great care is taken to manage the farm’s wildlife, ponds and bird habitats in a sensitive manner. The business is a true family affair involving seven family members spanning three generations – and Gordon Brown the only non-family member to work on the farm has been with the Warburtons for more than 50 years.
AGRONOMIST OF THE YEAR AWARD – SPONSORED BY DUPONT
Richard Palmer advises 25 clients covering 7,000 hectares and a further 7,000 hectares as a consultant across combinables, sugar beet and potatoes, taking a personal responsibility for a crop’s success. He has strong understanding of farmer priorities and a firm grasp of environmental schemes. He is a strong advocate of all environmental schemes, but says the objectives of many, including the Campaign for the farmer Environment, need greater clarity if they are to be embraced by the industry.
Andrew Wade of Agrovista
Andrew Wade advises on cereals, pulses, oilseeds, maize, potatoes and, more recently, brassica vegetables across 4,800 hectares in Shropshire. He is closely involved in trials at Harper Adams University monitoring the effects of sewage sludge on crop performance and also an advocate of devising tailored strategies to meet the needs of the grower. Soil mapping and nutrient profiling are two specialisms he sees as being central to future success of the industry and is excited about the opportunities this presents for improved Potato Cyst Nematode control.
FOOD CHAIN MARKETING AWARD – SPONSORED BY ELANCO ANIMAL HEALTH
Noble Foods and the Happy Egg Company
Spotting the opportunity for a ‘welfare friendly egg’, Noble Foods launched ‘the happy egg co.’ in January 2009 with the aim of creating an authoritative category voice while informing consumers on a variety of topics such as dispelling the myths that restrict egg consumption and promoting the value of higher welfare systems. In less than two years the happy egg co. has established itself as the biggest brand in the category and is ahead of expectations with a brand value of £38.5m versus a full calendar year target of £33m.
Sunny Hill Eggs
A free range egg venture in Scotland has proven that you don’t need massive marketing budgets to build a successful brand. Sunny Hill Eggs is the result of hard work and entrepreneurial flair of sisters Catherine Armstrong and Christine Jackson. The business has grown steadily and now supports 60,000 free-range hens supplying eggs direct to supermarkets, businesses, garden centres, universities and many local authorities.
THE GREEN AWARD FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT - SPONSORED BY GROWHOW
This award has been split into a Corporate Business Winner and a Farm Business Winner
Corporate Business Winner
Thanet Earth is the £100m product of a private commercial venture, they say ‘exploiting the demand for quality produce grown in a sustainable manner’. Since work began in 2008 the project has attracted immense media interest. Today it supplies tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to some of Britain’s best-known retailers, whilst generating electricity for 50,000 local homes.
Farm Business Winner of the Green Award
Mackie’s of Scotland
Mackie’s of Scotland has pursued every opportunity to trim the cost of energy faced by the business from making its own plastic packaging to installing three wind turbines to meet the electricity needs and cutting waste water to zero. In 2005 the Carbon Trust certified the business as carbon neutral and by 2009, thanks to the three wind turbines, it was running a surplus of 305 tonnes equivalent.
The Mackie family has recently planted trees across 10% of the farmed area to improve the aesthetic value of the farm, but also to sequester carbon dioxide.
EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR AWARD IS SPONSORED BY SAFETY REVOLUTION
This award also has two parts... Corporate Business and Farm Business.
Winner of the Corporate Business Employer of the Year is awarded to
McDonald’s impressed the judging panel with their focus on staff training and development and for their policy on attracting staff of all ages and backgrounds. They are proud to have a ‘Later Life workers’ programme that in 2006 and 2009 celebrated its commitment to employing people of all ages with over 1,000 employees aged over 60. Each year the company invests £30m in training and is one of the UK’s leading providers of workplace apprenticeships with more than 6,000 students a year and a further 6,000 a year gaining an NVQ level 2 in Maths and English while a further 2,500 receive management training to NVQ Level 3.
Farm Business Winner of the Employer of the Year Award goes to
LE Barnes & Sons Ltd
LE Barnes & Sons Ltd appreciates the hard work its staff put in during harvest and, like the machines they operate, the staff needs to be kept in good working order. During peak times this busy arable farm employs up to nine casual staff and looks after them with a fully catered operation that provides a packed lunch and a hot meal delivered to the field (if needs be). Accommodation is cleaned daily as well as a full laundry service to enable staff to remain focussed on the day job.
MASSEY FERGUSON/AGCO FINANCE SPONSOR THE MULTIPLE AND NON-MULTIPLE RETAILER OF THE YEAR CATEGORY
Winner of the Non-Multiple Retailer of the Year is
Keelham Hall Farm Shop
In 2009 it supported over 70 local and Yorkshire food and drink suppliers and producers. This has since risen to over 200 spanning Great Britain. More than 8,000 customers a week shop at Keelham Hall Farm Shop for its quality produce and its range of hand-made artisan products. A recent Oxfam survey found that for every £1 spent on local produce £3 is returned to the local economy. Sales of produce from across the Yorkshire region at the shop last year surpassed £3.2m meaning it helped return almost £10m to the local economy.
Retailer of the Year winner
Our panel judges gave great praise to Sainsbury’s not least it’s consistency of brand promise. It is one of the largest supporters of British agriculture with dedicated suppliers of milk, flour and fresh fruit as well as many in-direct relationships with producers through local suppliers. It was the first to introduce British veal with a strong welfare commitment and has made a pledge to improve the welfare of chickens on a global scale by ceasing to sell eggs from caged birds and by 2011 .
THE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR - SPONSORED BY MCDONALDS RESTAURANTS
Jimmy Doherty – for his role in promoting science in the farm and food chain
Through his many documentaries on the realities of farming in the UK Jimmy Doherty has brought agriculture to the lives of millions of households. His appreciation for all production systems ensures that agriculture is the beneficiary, not one system at the expense of the other. He says: “I’ve seen excellent examples of different production systems around the world and there’s room for everyone. What people buy is what gets produced. Large commercial systems and small niche set-ups can learn from one another. It’s vital that farmers stand together if they are to leverage the market”. The judges welcome such clear thinking and have seen Jimmy go on to explore the realities that modern food manufacturing face, the science behind our everyday food and to make us marvel at these feats, to understand what it takes to provide the food we want, at the quantity we want and at the price we demand . . .
THE MASSEY FERGUSON AWARD FOR ENTERPRISE AND FOR INNOVATION IN NEW MEDIA MARKETING
This award is to specifically recognise the achievements of Yeo Valley, the number one organic brand in the UK, in gaining worldwide exposure for the rapping farmers and promoting the quality and value of British agriculture. The TV campaign was developed with the aim of making organic dairy more accessible and explaining the heritage and provenance behind the Yeo Valley brand. The lyrics illustrate the pride of the West Country, producing organic milk to create great tasting, natural dairy products, care for the countryside and the practice of sustainable organic farming.
For more pictures look here. Read about the winners in the pages of Farm Business and in our edition World in 2011 – for more information contact
Caroline on 01892 861664, firstname.lastname@example.org