An award ceremony that celebrates Scotland's best food and drink has been officially launched by Hardeep Singh Kohli.

Nominations for the Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards 2013 are now officially open.

The awards, which are organised by Scotland Food and Drink in partnership with The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), recognise excellence across 17 categories including taste and tourism.

Kohli, who will host the awards, said: “Excellence. Scotland produces some of the finest produce in the world. Excellent salmon, venison, beef, whisky, raspberries, lobster, water: what don’t we have? That’s why I’m so proud and humbled to represent my country in this area of excellence, this area so close to my heart (and stomach).”

Guests will be treated to a champagne reception and sumptuous dinner, showcasing the very best of Scotland’s larder, at the event.

James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, said: “The Scottish food and drink industry is in fantastic shape and the Excellence Awards recognise the best products, businesses, outstanding individuals and industry achievement.

“There is real value in entering the awards – last year’s winners enjoyed tangible benefits including publicity, new opportunities and a boost to sales.

"Internationally recognised as a Land of Food and Drink, Scotland has a deservedly great reputation for quality produce and the Awards celebrate the best of what we have to offer. We have any number of successes in our industry and I would encourage companies of all types and sizes to seek the recognition they deserve.”

Stephen Hutt, RHASS’ chief executive, said: “Representing many of Scotland’s primary food producers as members of the Society, we understand the value such an award can bring both in terms of exposure and ultimately sales.  We wish all entrants the best of luck and look forward to seeing the winners at this year’s Royal Highland Show.”

To enter the awards visit Entries close on March 29.

To buy tickets for the ceremony visit the Scotland Food and drink website.