Catoctin Creek Distillery triumphant at UK Blind Tasting Awards

Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, home to Virginia’s most-awarded whisky, has now started to collect awards in the UK following their launch in January this year. The independently-owned craft distillery was awarded medals for all three of their Catoctin Creek’s Roundhouse Rye expressions with gold for Cask Proof, gold for 92 Proof and silver medal for their 80 Proof in The Drinks Business & The Spirits Business’ Spring Blind Tasting 2021. The Blind Tasting saw 106 entries from 50 different companies from across the world of wine and spirits come together for a collaborative blind tasting with judging divided into 19 separate competitions to ensure each spirits category is given the utmost attention by specialised judges including journalists, retail buyers, bartenders and educators. Recognition in the UK can be added to a growing list of awards for their Virginia Rye. “We are so excited to receive this recognition in this British judging event,” said founder and General Manager,  Scott Harris. “We’ve been so pleased to finally launch our Virginia rye whisky into the United Kingdom, and after the triple set-backs of tariffs, Brexit, and then COVID, we thought we’d never get here. “Thankfully, this set of awards comes at the perfect time as are seeing a lot of excitement around our 2021 launch!” Roundstone Rye has a delicious woody taste, with notes of caramel, rich butter toffee, with a hint of lemon in the nose. Ageing in new charred white oak casks gives the whisky the smooth woody note and a true grain character of a  traditional American rye whisky. It is superb in Manhattans or your favourite rye whisky cocktails as well as superb for sipping.

Guinness deploys quality control experts ahead of pubs reopening in England

In anticipation of bars and pubs in England reopening outdoors in less than a week’s time, Guinness is deploying its team of quality control experts to visit 50,000 venues around the country. It aims to ensure bars are ready to offer a clean and safe environment for fans to enjoy a fresh pint. More than 50 ‘pint perfectionists’ will clean thousands of lines so that the ‘perfect pour’ can be achieved at venues nationwide as they reopen from 12th April. The brewer is also delivering 49 fresh tankers of the stout from St James Gate, Dublin to England for kegging and distribution at pubs and bars throughout GB. As a commitment to the reopening pubs and bars, Guinness has provided £30 million of funding to 25,000 pubs and bars over the last twelve months, and continues to support the hospitality industry as the nation comes out of lockdown.

Chocolate maker invests £850k in automating manufacturing process

A Cumbria-based chocolate maker is set to enhance its productivity by automating its manufacturing process with a £850,000 investment. Friars started making its own brand of premium chocolates by hand last year, after nearly 100 years of retailing confectionary products. Now, to meet increasing demand and to accelerate growth, the third-generation family business is adopting a process solution which will automate the labour-intensive element of its production line while retaining key handcrafted elements. The £100,000 investment will enable Friars to increase its output from 30kg per day to 250kg – an increase of 733% – with significant scope to scale up production. Automation will make it almost three times cheaper to produce the same amount and maintain a consistent quality. The business also plans to invest £750,000 in a new factory and distribution centre near to the motorway in Penrith. Friars has been supported by the Made Smarter North West Adoption programme which for the last two years has worked with 1,200 makers in every corner of the region providing advice, expertise and financial support to help them grow their business, increase competitiveness and reduce inefficiencies through digital tools and technology. Managing Director Michael Webster, who runs the business with his brother Richard, said: “Our ambition is to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of quality chocolates, but in order to do this we need to look to technology to enable us to scale up our operation while producing the highest quality possible. “Made Smarter’s support and advice has accelerated and de-risked our investment in process automation technology which will take the brakes off our growth plans and transform our business.” Donna Edwards, North West Adoption Programme Director at Made Smarter, said: “Friars is a superb example of a Made Smarter-supported business which has identified the value technology can bring to its operations. “By combining automation technology with its handcrafted techniques, Friars is forecasting significant growth, and productivity and efficiency gains. “Friars is among hundreds of manufacturers in the region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, a leadership programme, and funded digital technology internships.”

Brewery launches Peanut Butter on a Jaffa Cake beer to mark anniversary

Salford brewery Seven Bro7hers Brewing Co is launching a limited-edition ‘Peanut Butter on a Jaffa Cake’ Stout to kick of its seventh birthday celebrations. Introducing the ‘7 Series’, a host of special craft beers designed and created by each brother to celebrate seven years in business together. The series, which will be launching throughout the year to mark the July anniversary, will include a variety of unique and original beers. Each beer will explore the interests, personalities, and quirks of the seven McAvoy brothers as they toast this landmark birthday. Kicking off the series is brother number six, Kit. Collaborating with the brewing team, Kit has crafted a nuttily sweet stout inspired by his favourite childhood snack – Peanut Butter on a Jaffa Cake. While the beer is rich in peanut flavour it contains no nuts. The brewers carefully selected the perfect combination of hops and malts to bring out the nutty, zesty flavours. “The idea came from a snack I created for myself as a child. I loved peanut butter and I loved Jaffa Cakes and one day – like kids do – I thought why not try them together. I can safely say it is still one of my favourite snacks to this day, and something I am constantly introducing people too,” said the brewery’s Director and Export Manager, Kit McAvoy. “This year we celebrate seven years in business, which is a special birthday for us. We wanted to commemorate the anniversary with a series that celebrates our family and seven years of hard work – seven years, seven beers, seven unique ideas. “It has been really fun taking well-known beers and flavours back to the drawing board and getting inventive with the brewing team. We are enormously proud of the last seven years and we hope people join us in celebrating this landmark.” Seven Bro7hers Brewing Co was founded in 2014 by McAvoy brothers, Guy, Keith, Luke, Daniel, Nathan, Kit, and Greg, inspired by their dad’s home-brewing in their cellar at home.

Kerry white paper explores stocks and broths trends

Taste and nutrition company, Kerry, has released a chef’s white paper outlining emerging trends and ideas in stocks and broths in today’s new era of clean labelling in foods. The ‘Creating Authentic Flavour from an Ageless Kitchen Tradition’ white paper examines stocks and broths from a chef’s point of view, starting with a tour around the modern world and the historical roots of stocks and broths as the world’s earliest and first flavour enhancers. In-depth interviews with Kerry chefs and culinary product development experts follow, focusing on their personal styles in stock-making and the trends (such as umami and kokumi) they see emerging. According to the white paper, five key trends are apparent: 1) replacing tastes using stocks and broths to infuse food with flavour 2) for product developers, making ingredients more clean-label in nature 3) developing and commercialising new products, e.g., immune-support sipping broths that utilise Kerry’s Wellmune, a proprietary yeast beta glucan 4) the introduction of sipping broths in a wide range of flavours and which provide plant protein fortification to increase their nutritional profile 5) proactively using clean-label stocks and broths to satisfy consumer calls for authentic, natural, full flavours. Consumer demand for authentic foods and beverages has moved brands and manufacturers in a new direction: toward whole-food cooking processes, sustainability and cleaner labelling. The drive for authentic ingredients is on, and it’s where stocks and broths created using kitchen-focused methods hold a clear—and clean—advantage. “It’s clear the overall trend in stocks and broths is toward whole food, kitchen-style production, and clean-label ingredients that deliver the rich, authentic taste consumers want,” said Thomas Couepel, Global Portfolio Director of Stocks and Broths at Kerry. “Demand for clean labels will only increase as we go forward, and this extends to the stock-and-broth sources many menu items use as their foundation. “Creating Authentic Flavour from an Ageless Kitchen Tradition provides excellent information on trends and new ideas from the marketplace and Kerry kitchen experts. This paper is sure to be of interest to culinary product designers.”

Food and beverage meeting marathon launches to connect buyers and suppliers

ECRM, an end-to-end product sourcing solutions specialist, has announced a “first-of-its-kind industry experience” that it says will completely change how consumer packaged goods (CPG) products get discovered. The 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage event will bring together retail buyers and product suppliers from around the world to meet face-to-face between 28th June and 2nd July. “The scale and magnitude of the 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage can’t be overstated,” said Greg Farrar, CEO of ECRM. “We are utilising best-of-breed technology, built specifically for retail and the consumer packaged goods industry, to provide participants an unmatched global marketplace experience that will define the future of how retailers and brands connect.” The 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage will deliver international scale with an immersive product discovery experience combined with a virtual meeting environment built specially for brands to showcase relevant products to buyers from retailers of all sizes and locations. This is all made possible with ECRM’s latest technology innovation which seamlessly integrates its industry leading virtual platform, ECRM Connect, with RangeMe, the industry standard online product discovery platform. Product discovery for registrants begins on 17th May and runs through to 21st June. During this time, food, beverage and food service buyers can easily find relevant products within their respective categories on RangeMe, and with the click of a button, select those brands that they would like to meet with virtually. Brands that are selected will be invited to choose an available time on that buyer’s calendar for a face-to-face meeting. Scheduled meetings begin 28th June until 2nd July on ECRM Connect and will run 24 hours a day to accommodate global participants. 2021 Global Market: Food & Beverage will also feature a dynamic content line-up during the week of meetings that kicks-off with a must-see fireside chat with entrepreneur and bestselling author, Gary Vaynerchuk. Additional content will run throughout the week featuring daily keynotes, eye-opening insights, and interactive workshops led by industry leaders and experts. Registration for both buyers and brands is open until 7th June.

Nestlé inaugurates Malaysian plant-based production site

Nestlé has inaugurated a production site for plant-based foods in Shah Alam, Malaysia as the company bolsters its plant-based presence in Asia. The new facility has the capacity to produce 8,000 tons of plant-based food a year and will supply both food service and retail with the new Harvest Gourmet brand. Specifically, it will produce plant-based burgers, schnitzels, mince and more. Harvest Gourmet has already inked deals to supply global and regional restaurant chains including Element Fresh in China, KyoChon in Malaysia and Carl’s Jr in Singapore. It will also supply growing demand in retail, starting in China with Tmall and Hema. Nestlé is making sure local products are designed for the Asian taste and local cuisine applications such as dumplings, stir fry, braising, katsudon, and more. In retail, first prepared dishes in China include plant-based versions of local classics like Gong Bao Chicken and Braised Meatballs. “We’re really going ‘beyond the bun’ to capture local tastes and convince people to try plant-based options. We believe that the more people embrace plant-based food, the better for them and the planet. That’s why we are at the forefront of this shift and investing for the future,” said Chris Johnson, Nestlé CEO for Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Kite Packaging launch reusable, biodegradable shredded paper

Kite Packaging has brought its  new range of reusable, recyclable and biodegradable shredded paper to market. The employee-owned business has recently added a wide range of innovative solutions to their ecommerce offering providing customers with sustainable alternatives, their latest one being shredded paper. Kite’s reusable, recyclable and biodegradable FSC and PEFC certified shredded paper is the perfect sustainable void fill solution for not only protecting items but also as an added aesthetic and is FSC and PEFC certified. Commonly used in boxes, hampers, gift bags, baskets and much more, its zig-zag shape ensure it works its way into every corner filling small gaps and providing ultimate cushioning. Available in kraft (produced from 100% recyclable materials) black and white, Kite’s smooth and uncoated 70-80gsm paper does not need fluffing up beforehand and is industrially dust-extracted therefore reducing the dusty mess often associated with other alternatives. This high-quality alternative to many void fill solutions provides great cushioning for fragile products with good holding power.

Construction complete on agri-food research and development facility in the UK

Food industry businesses will soon be able to benefit from state-of-the-art technology at a brand-new, bespoke agri-food research and development facility in Lincolnshire, UK. With construction now complete, the University of Lincoln’s Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technologies is the first building on site at the new South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone in Holbeach, and the latest development in an ambitious vision to put Lincolnshire on the map as a global leader in the agri-tech sector. Building on the success of the University’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM), it will act as an innovation hub – primarily promoting the rapid uptake of advanced technologies such as robotics and automation across the food supply chain. Expert staff will be based at the Centre, including industry scientists and their support teams, uniquely focused on delivering innovation support services, pioneering research, skills provision and knowledge exchange for agri-food businesses across Lincolnshire and beyond, strengthening the county’s position as a key player in the agri-tech sector. Specialist facilities including microbiology and chemistry laboratories, a high-tech test kitchen and sensory suite, break space and seminar rooms, will be readily accessible to businesses located across the Food Enterprise Zone and the wider Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership area. Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean of the University’s Holbeach Campus and NCFM, said: “The Centre of Excellence in Agri-food Technologies is a fabulous facility which will significantly strengthen the University’s capacity to lead technical innovation and skills development with food businesses and support those high-tech, entrepreneurial businesses located on the South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone. “We are delighted that the National Centre for Food Manufacturing should be pivotal to this exciting development which will put South Lincolnshire and Greater Lincolnshire’s Agri-food sector on the global map, affording an unprecedented level of opportunity for both businesses and our local communities.” Professor Andrew Hunter, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Lincoln, said: “Food Manufacturing is at the heart of the University’s research and knowledge exchange, and we are delighted to act as ‘anchor tenants’ to this critical development. Our ambition is to partner with local and global businesses to create one of the most innovative food manufacturing hubs in the world.” Pat Doody, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Serving our key agri-food clusters in the heart of the UK Food Valley, this centre of excellence will provide the university-led research required to grow and evolve our South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone. “It will strengthen its national and international connections, enabling knowledge transfer and providing direct on-site education and skills development to support the sector. “Delivering both innovation support services and invaluable expertise via the new centre, the university will promote the rapid take-up of advanced technologies to ensure that the sector remains competitive across the food supply chain and beyond. “The LEP is delighted to have invested £2.3m into the development of this strategically important scheme.” The South Lincolnshire Food Enterprise Zone is funded by the Greater Lincolnshire LEP, Lincolnshire County Council and the Midlands Engine, with South Holland District Council and the University of Lincoln partners in the scheme. A physical launch event for the building is scheduled for the autumn, subject to Government guidance at the time.

Durham Box’s e-commerce packaging solution helps fishing company diversify

In collaboration with solid fibreboard specialist, Northumberland-based CRT Packaging, leading corrugated packaging manufacturer, Durham Box, is supplying the Ethical Shellfish Company with e-commerce packaging to support the fishing company’s online fresh seafood delivery service. Using sustainable methods, the Isle of Mull-based Ethical Shellfish Company’s core product is hand-dived scallops, fished from their own boat around Mull and the surrounding islands. They also supply lobster, langoustine and crab, all creel caught and guaranteed 100% ethically sound, there being no damage to marine plants or animals. The shellfish is then delivered to some of the best chefs throughout restaurants across the UK. Since the start of the pandemic, the restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard by the effects of lockdown. Like many other SMEs, this has meant that the Ethical Shellfish Company has needed to diversify. The company set out to expand its reach by establishing an online facility, meaning that in addition to top chefs, the UK public could also benefit from the fresh produce and have it delivered direct into their homes. To complement this new service, Durham Box was asked by CRT Packaging to design and supply an e-commerce packaging solution that would provide the Ethical Shellfish Company’s new customers with an excellent first impression. “Since Coronavirus hit the UK in March 2020 we have had to think on our feet and reinvent,” said the Ethical Shellfish Company’s founder, Guy Grieve. “We are now very proud to say that as well as supplying our restaurant market, we are also delivering our top quality ethically fished shellfish and other produce direct to home cooks. “We deliver to our customers with just the same respect and care as we do our chefs and are so excited to be helping people create Michelin standard meals within their own homes! Commenting on Durham Box’s packaging solution, he added: “It was important that we paired with a company who could provide e-commerce packaging to meet the same top quality as the shellfish we provide. “It was critical that the packaging would ensure that the shellfish and other products arrived with the customer in the same condition as when they left us. Durham box was recommended to us by CRT Packaging to supply the required packaging – it was a good call, as they have excelled in meeting our expectations and the feedback from our customers has been superb.” Named as one of the fastest growing companies in the North East, Durham Box make in excess of 40 million products per year from their 120,000 sqm factory. Central to their offering is a Nozomi C18000 single-pass, ultra-high-speed LED inkjet corrugated packaging press, providing Durham Box with the ability to produce short-run, well-designed corrugated boxes for e-commerce businesses and start-ups, printed with 100% low migration food safe inks. “With the Ethical Shellfish Company being one of CRT Packaging’s longstanding customers, we were delighted to be asked to provide an e-commerce packaging solution,” said Durham Box’s business development director-POS, Andy Smith. “As the demand for high-quality e-commerce packaging continues unabated, we are actively supporting businesses to diversify in the pandemic by working quickly to sample and produce final packaging. “Many businesses like the Ethical Shellfish Company have been quick to respond and reinvent their offering – our own response needs to be equally quick and efficient. “It has been a pleasure working with a company that, despite these challenging times, has been able to offer something different. We are delighted the packaging matched their high expectations and that of their customers.”