Weetabix, PepsiCo UK, KP Snacks: FDF Awards celebrates best of British

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

The 2017 FDF Awards recognized a range of players in the UK food and beverage industry, including several from the bakery and snacks sectors. Pic: ©GettyImages/Szakaly/lepas 2004
The 2017 FDF Awards recognized a range of players in the UK food and beverage industry, including several from the bakery and snacks sectors. Pic: ©GettyImages/Szakaly/lepas 2004
The 2017 Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Awards recognized some of the UK’s most outstanding individuals, companies and campaigns, with many winners coming from the bakery and snacks arenas.

The Awards attracts big names as well as innovative start-ups from every sector of the food and beverage industry, no less so from the bakery and snacks industries.

Among this year’s Awards Shortlist – announced in July – were companies like Mondelēz, Premier Foods, Calbee, Kerry, The Bread Factory, The Great British Biscotti Company and Nairn’s Oatcakes, to name a few.

Earlier this month, the final 21 winners were honoured in different categories, ranging from Apprentice of the Year, to Good Employer, to community and environment leaders.

FDF Award 2017 winners from the bakery and snacks industries:

  • Education Initiative - Weetabix Food Company
  • Environmental Leadership - PepsiCo UK
  • Exporter of the Year - BFree Foods
  • Good Employer - KP Snacks
  • Regional Growth Business - Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn

For the full list of Award winners, click here.

Ian Wright, director general of the FDF told BakeryandSnacks the Awards are a timely reminder of the talent and dedication in Britain’s food and drink industry.

“Given the many challenges we face, it is essential that we continue to encourage and celebrate the strength of our vibrant sector, both domestically and abroad,”​ he said.

Exporter extraordinaire

BFree L-R David Waldron and John Gleeson their award presentations at the fdf Awards.
David Waldron and John Gleeson from BFree with broadcaster, writer, and comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli

BFree Foods is the third largest bakery brand in the Free-From category in the UK (after Genius and Warburtons) producing gluten-free and vegan baked goods, predominantly manufactured in Northern Ireland.

Since establishing in 2011, the company has aggressively expanded its footprint and now exports to the US, Australia, Scandinavia, Malta, UAE, and most recently, Hong Kong. It also plans to expand to Canada, South Africa, Germany and Spain.

BFree is listed in over 12,000 supermarkets globally; has six websites with localised content for each market; and a product range of over 15 SKUs.

“As a young brand, being nominated in a category with well-renowned international brands was a massive achievement,”​ David Waldron, business development manager of BFree Foods told BakeryandSnacks, noting that export accounts for 60% of the company’s overall business.

”We see this growing even further in the next 12 months as we look for further expansion outside of the UK and continue to provide new products that break the mould of the bread category, to a previously limited free-from category,”​ he added.

Inspiring education

Northamptonshire-base Weetabix establishment its apprenticeship and education program to counterbalance its ageing workforce, particularly in engineering disciplines.

The company took on four apprentices for the summer of 2016, and appointed internal mentors and Enterprise Advisers to talk to local schools on industry requirements for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills. This year, the apprenticeship programme will double its intake.

“Weetabix is located in a competitive region for engineering skills and, coupled with an ageing workforce, it was clear we needed to take proactive steps to ensure we had the skills required within the business,”​ Neil Clark, head of Business Unit, Weetabix, told this site.

“We’re pleased to help inspire young people about manufacturing, engineering and the food industry as a whole. We believe that investing in new talent will have significant long-term benefits to the company.”

Keeping it green

PepsiCo UK’s 50 in 5 project, which ran from 2010 to 2016, halved the water and carbon used to grow the potatoes that make Walkers crisps.

The company – the second biggest buyer of potatoes in the UK – collaborated with experts and academics to develop technologies to measure water and carbon and worked with almost 100 potato farmers to implement the environmentally sustainable systems.

PepsiCo UK is now exploring how it can build on the project for other European markets as well as for other crops.

Stimulating loyalty

The KP Snacks team received their award
The KP Snacks team receives their Award.

KP Snacks launched its Achieving Together: Creating and Embedding KP's Values & Behaviours program to change the culture of the organization, following its acquisition by The Intersnack Group in 2014.

The program involves employees from each of the company’s sites at different levels and sectors, and today has 68 V&B Champions from all over the business, from weekend cleaners to brand managers.

“The result has been a bottom up, participative program that has engaged and involved every KP colleague in some way, from the production line to appraisals and the management of individual career goals,”​ said Johanna Dickinson, HR director at KP Snacks.

“It continues to develop and we’re confident that what we’re creating supports the growth of the business and helps to make KP a great place to work.”

Growing regionally and beyond

Family business Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn has introduced over 40 innovative flavors of gourmet popcorn since in launch in 2010 – including the UK’s first alcoholic range.

Each product is handmade in small batches using natural ingredients by a small team of pastry chefs in the company’s production kitchens in North London.

In 2016, Joe & Seph’s worked with Unilever to create the world’s first Marmite Popcorn and partnered with a craft beer brand to develop a popcorn-beer pairing menu.

The company has grown at a rate over-and- above the category trend and is now listed in 2,500 stockists in over 25 countries.

“Export is a key area of focus for Joe & Seph’s, now and in the future, and winning the Award will allow us to grow the brand in a number of new territories and approach retailers that we wouldn’t have had a chance to work with before,”​ said Martina Celuzza, head of Marketing & Brand, Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn.

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