Recognition has its rewards

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A NEW scheme to help local food and drink businesses win national recognition and awards has been launched, helping to put towns such as Clitheroe on the map and highlight the North West as a leading food tourism destination.

North West Tastes ACE (Awards Credited Excellence) is a new, innovative, fast track scheme launched through the Northwest Food Tourism Executive Group which has collated all the local, regional and national food awards in one place online.

It includes application forms, guidance notes and deadlines, allowing businesses which might not normally have the time or resources to research them, to enter prestigious schemes such as The Great Taste Awards.

Local producers can now seek national recognition simply by logging on to the free new website, which is the first of its kind. The site is designed to help the whole food chain – from hotels and restaurants to producers and chefs – to showcase their world-class businesses and help the North West become synonymous with the highest quality food.

One Ribble Valley business keen to utilise the website is The Bowland Brewery, at Bashall Eaves. Since April 2003 it has produced hand-crafted real ales using the finest Maris Otter malted barley and full-flower hops and has already seen the business benefits of winning a string of awards.

Owner and founder Richard Baker scommented: “We didn’t start up the business to win awards, but putting your products up against national competitors is a great way to benchmark how well you are doing and they provide a huge lift to everyone in the business when you win something.

“Perhaps more importantly, they give you the credibility in the eyes of the people who shape public opinion and, after winning the National Best Bitter gold medal at the 2011 Society of Independent Brewers Awards, we found industry leaders, journalists and food and drink critics falling over themselves to talk to us.”

The website will feature the details, deadlines, costs and guidelines for more than 300 awards. Visitors to the site simply enter the nature of their business and a tailored timetable of awards will appear on screen.

In addition, the site can be used as a portal for all North West food-related information such as upcoming events, potential funding streams, PR and networking opportunities.

Mary Houston, NW Food Tourism Co-ordinator, said: “Winning renowned competitions can help make your brand instantly recognisable and provide you with a quality mark that consumers trust. Such endorsements can potentially launch a food or supplier on to the national food landscape, creating household names overnight.”

To visit North West Tastes ACE just log on to: www.nwtastesace.co.uk/website

For more information about Northwest Tastes ACE, e-mail: info@nwtastesace.co.uk