There were no losers at the SuperMeat awards, where there was something for everyone, writes Carina Perkins
This year's SuperMeat & Fish Awards saw supermarket staff, suppliers and product developers join trade VIPs at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane for an evening that celebrated the industry's top products and personalities. Entertainment included a champagne reception, a three-course meal, a performance by stand-up comedian Milton Jones and an after-dinner disco, but the main event was the awards ceromony, hosted by TV sports presenter John Inverdale.
Standards this year were extremely high, with some very innovative entries in the product categories and plenty of high-quality candidates for the store awards. The judging panel assessed well over 100 products for the awards and more than 26 stores were shortlisted for the final. Sainsbury's TTD West Country Beef Bone-in Rib won the Best Fresh Meat product category and went on to fight off fierce competition to be crowned Best Product of 2007.
Rachel Griffiths, ABP category manager for Sainsbury's, said: "Obviously we are delighted and pleased with the award. It is a good compliment for the work we have done with Sainsbury's for a regional range. It is a fantastic accolade."
Asda won several product awards, including the Most Innovative Product award for its Extra Special Atlantic Salmon with Pomegranate Glaze from Young's Bluecrest Seafood. In addition, it took home the Head Office Initiative Award. "It is a fantastic honour to win this award. It shows that we are reaping dividends for introducing quality meat products which are fit for purpose store by store," said Jim Viggars, beef buyer for Asda.
Tesco was outstandingly successful, winning product awards for beef, lamb and sausage, and taking home a number of store awards. To crown its success, Tesco's Longton store in Stoke-on-Trent was named Overall Store Winner 2007.
Irene Simons was "absolutely delighted" to receive the award on behalf of the store and her staff. "It's fantastic. I have entered for the last three years running and was really disappointed when I didn't win," she said. "This year I was absolutely determined and my staff were behind me the whole way, so I am thrilled."
The Longton store was commended for its organisation, superb stocking levels and the overall enthusiasm and commitment of the staff.
"Next year I want to win every category I enter," said Simons. "I want my store to be the best at everything."
A first for SuperMeat this year was the announcement of the meat industry's Personality of the Year award, sponsored by Interfood Technology.
The accolade was given to a delighted Brian Haigh, who has been in the industry for more than 40 years.
"I am over the moon, it's a great surprise," he said. "I looked at the other finalists and I thought, why would they give the prize to someone like me?
"I am absolutely delighted that they did though. It's the sort of thing you only win once, and probably the pinnacle of my career." l