presenter, actor and weatherman Des Coleman, Food and Drink iNet director Andrew Butterwick, Sarah Palmer and Carl Heery, who run Fairfield Plaice, Fiona Anderson, managing director of the award sponsors the Food and Drink Forum, and journalist and presenter John Sergeant

A Derbyshire fish and chip shop which made huge strides in improving its environmental credentials has been crowned The Food and Drink Forum Innovation Champion 2010 in The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards.

Fairfield Plaice in Buxton introduced a range of environmentally friendly initiatives including installing a dramatically more efficient frying range, using recyclable packaging and buying fish from sustainable sources and chips from a firm that uses recycled waste water.

Now the company has been rewarded by receiving the top accolade at The Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards 2010, presented at an awards ceremony and dinner supported by Derby College at The Roundhouse, Pride Park, Derby, and hosted by journalist John Sergeant and weather presenter Des Coleman.

The judges said: “When choosing the overall winner we were looking for the entry that stands out as having the wow factor. After much deliberation and discussion the Innovation Champion has been awarded to Fairfield Plaice for the way in which it has taken a traditional industry and turned it on its head to become one of the first environmentally friendly fish and chip shops in the UK.”

Fairfield Plaice, run by Carl Heery, also took the Nottingham Trent University Award for Most Innovative Business in the Wider Food Sector jointly with Cookies of Oakham, Rutland.

Of Cookies, a sandwich bar and catering company which diversified to develop a range of fruit-based sauces, the judges said: “The new products developed by Cookies of Oakham are very different from what the company typically manufactures. The company covered all bases including completing detailed product and market research in order to give their products the best possible chance of success”

Of Fairfield Plaice, the judges said: “We liked the way this project effectively combined a reduction in running costs with working towards the green agenda. It was very innovative for a fish and chip takeaway to embrace the effect they have on the environment and incorporate new thinking and policies into their business.”

University of Lincoln Award for Most Innovative Small to Medium Sized Food and Drink Manufacturer was presented to Thornbridge Brewery, Bakewell, Derbyshire.

The judges praised the brewery for the way in which it employed a centrifuge process more commonly used in the wine industry to manufacture fresh beer in a bottle, which is neither filtered nor pasteurised, saying: “We were pleased to see a previous category winner in the Innovation Awards still innovating and creating opportunity for themselves. Using a cross sector approach has given the company commercial advantage which they have used to bring a new dimension to a very traditional industry.”

Food Processing Faraday Award for Most Innovative Large Food and Drink Manufacturer went to British Sugar, Newark, Nottinghamshire, which used the widely acclaimed and well researched thinking system called Go MAD at its Newark site to enhance its business performance. The training programme, positioned as a business improvement, was integrated within the factory strategy rather than an isolated training scheme, providing employees with a flexible structure that enables them to develop thinking and problem solving in an easy to understand and practical way. The programme allowed employees to achieve greater clarity of thinking, increased speed of thinking, improved creative thinking and consistency in achieving personal and business goals.

The judges said: “We were pleased to see a large, well established business using innovative and new tools to develop their staff as well as deliver bottom line benefits. We were impressed by the commitment of all the team at Newark – top to bottom – to new thinking.”

Campden BRI Award for Most Innovative Business Across the Food and Drink Supply Chain was presented to Fresh Logistics, based at East Midlands Airport, Castle Donington. The firm of chilled parcel couriers identified a gap in the market to provide a service for food manufacturers looking to distribute small quantities of high quality products requiring careful handling and temperature controlled conditions. In response, the company created a bespoke network which caters to the needs of small craft producers bringing together the best food from around the UK and delivering it safely and securely. The service includes the UK’s first overnight temperature controlled parcel delivery network.

The judges commented: “We liked the fact that in developing an innovative solution to a real business need, Fresh Logistics managed to reduce the environmental impact and to cut down on waste. We were also impressed by Fresh Logistics’ plans to continue to innovate in the future.”

CenFRA Award for Most Innovative Research Project went to eminate Ltd based at BioCity, Nottingham, for the successful manipulation of salt crystals that resulted in the development of a new ingredient for the food industry known as Soda-Lo. Soda-Lo enables a reduction in salt use of between 25 and 50 percent across a wide range of food products. This has been achieved by altering the size, form and structure of salt particles in order to increase their saltiness, thereby reducing the amount of salt needed to achieve the same flavour profile.

The judges said: “We were impressed by this research project as it has provided a new product that can reduce the salt use in the food sector. We also feel that there could be a national need for this type of product specifically in addressing key issues facing the food sector such as the health agenda.”

Food and Drink iNet director Andrew Butterwick said: “I’d like to congratulate all the very worthy winners in the Food and Drink iNet Innovation Awards 2010, who illustrate the diverse and exciting range of innovation opportunities that are being developed in the East Midlands.”

Funded by East Midlands Development Agency (emda) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Food and Drink iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the East Midlands. One of four regional iNets, it has developed an effective network to link academic and private sector expertise and knowledge with local food and drink business innovation needs.

The Food and Drink iNet also aims to build on the tradition of innovation in the food and drink industry in the region by helping to create opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, and to help research, develop and implement new products, markets, services and processes. It is managed by a consortium, led by The Food and Drink Forum and including Food Processing Faraday, Nottingham Trent University, the University of Lincoln, and the University of Nottingham. It is based at Southglade Food Park, Nottingham, with advisors covering the East Midlands region.

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