The winners for this year’s Farm Shop & Deli Show were announced at the NEC Birmingham, on Monday afternoon, with Cumbria’s Lovingly Artisan winning two awards, the North West Regional Producer award and the national Baker of the Year award.
A team of over 20 leading experts judged the entries online before coming together last November to deliberate and shortlist the contenders. During January and February secret visits across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales took place before the winners, and overall Retailer of the Year, were decided.
Following this comprehensive judging process and nearly 5,500 consumer votes, the 12 category winners and nine regional winners were revealed to the assembled crowds on the opening day of the sixth Farm Shop & Deli Show, one of the UK’s largest specialist food and drink trade shows.
The annual awards celebrate the highest levels of service, product knowledge, initiative, innovation and community involvement, the awards unearth the crème de la crème of fine food retail establishments from across the UK.
One Lovingly Artisan customer commented: ‘’This lovely small business is packed with passion. The fabulous team that works there cares about its products and its customers – not only supplying beautiful bread but helping and supporting in so many other ways too.’’
A judge remarked: ‘’My initial comment is; I wish this was near me; Great application showing not only passion but a true business model.’’ Another judge added: ‘’Great engagement with the community and sharing the skill and knowledge.’’
Nigel Barden, Chairman of Judges, Food and Drink Journalist and Broadcaster, said: “More work than ever goes into the Farm Shop & Deli Awards, including an increased number of visits and more hours spent on the road for our judges. This gives the Awards even more kudos and esteem, as does the experience of our 20 judges who represent all aspects of the food and drink sector. Some of them are previous Retailers of the Year and appreciate how much benefit is gained by winning an award and the amount of work and expertise required to triumph.’’
Commenting on their win husband and wife Aidan Monks and Catherine Connor, Owners and Bakers at Lovingly Artisan, said: ‘’It’s a real honour to be shortlisted alongside the other finalists in this year’s Farm Shop & Deli awards, as both a regional and national finalist and to win both is simply incredible! The annual awards are one of the biggest events in food and drink sector and provide a magnificent stage to recognise the skills and achievements of the whole industry. They are an opportunity to shout from the roof tops and celebrate those individuals and businesses at the forefront of the UK’s burgeoning artisan food and drink scene. We are truly honoured to be able to play a small part in developing excellence in the UK’s baking industry. The future of the industry as a whole is very bright and the team at Lovingly Artisan are really looking forward to playing a small part in the developments ahead.’’
Photo: Nigel Barden, Chairman of Judges, Food and Drink Journalist and Broadcaster presenting Catherine Connor with Lovingly Artisan’s regional and national awards.