Fresh thinking and a creative approach to what we look for from our food has seen a selection of Scottish companies recently secure nominations in the 'Oscars' of the food and drink world - the Scotland Food & Drink Excellence awards.

There is little doubt that some of the foods that stock Scotland's natural larder are more established and well-known than others, but some of our country's producers are setting the tone worldwide with some truly innovative new products.

We take a look at some of the finalists who are changing the way we look - and source - our food…


Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company

Despite Skye's northerly location, a combination of poly tunnels and humidity control has enabled the business to, incredibly, dry seawater into salt crystals on a site completely devoid of power - by simply relying on the sun. The result is the production of larger salt flakes than normal while remaining in tune with the drying location, and the business's fine grain sea salt & premium grain sea salt have secured a place in the final of the soup, preserves & accompaniments category.

Cuddybridge apple juice

When is apple juice not apple juice? When it's made with Buckthorn, of course. That's one of the varieties of juice on offer from Cuddybridge Apple Juice, who mix the berries from the seasonal, shoreland-growing shrub with apples to create a unique drink. What's more, the company works in partnership with the Woodland Trust to provide the first truly Scottish apple juice, and the subsequent product has made the cut for the non-alcoholic drink category. To cut down on potential waste, the solid remains of the fruit used for juices goes into the feed for Oxford Sandy and Blacks, and Mangalizters - two kind of rare breed pigs, which is a rather nice aside.

IQ Chocolate

Chocolate can only be enjoyed as a treat: or so we think. But IQ Chocolate, based in Stirling, may well be forcing us to revise that statement, because it's created a chocolate that not only tastes great but also offers a whole host of health benefits. Yes really - the natural sweeteners used in bars (organic coconut blossom nectar) contains potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc, as well as a range of mineral and enzymes that help the chocolate be absorbed into the blood more slowly. A game-changing anti-oxidant if ever there was one, and a product that has reached the final stage of the innovation category.

Gigha Halibut

Sustainable fishing is on the minds of most Scottish fishing companies, but Gigha Halibut is going a step further. Its fish are fed with a 100% organic diet in the form of fish trimmings as protein, and organic vegetable products for carbohydrates. In doing so, the process alleviates global fisheries from providing fish meal, and allows the halibut - which is otherwise listed as an endangered species - the chance to regenerate naturally. As if that wasn't enough, the business itself runs solely from wind power from the island's community wind farm - a fact which played a part in the brand reaching the final of the fish & seafood category.

 Insignia Technologies

Lanarkshire is home to one of the most exciting new developments to come out of the food-packaging world in recent years - Insignia Technologies. The company's portfolio boasts a pigment called Novas, which can be added to plastic packaging and will change colour should a product be damaged in a modified atmosphere, therefore being able to be eliminated from the supply chain much earlier than normal. Another significant product from Insignia is its Food Fresh Innovators - a simple sticker to be adhered to opened produce which will change colour over time in order to keep track of when food is past its best. The company will be battling IQ chocolate in the innovation category.

Full list of Scotland Food & Drink Excellence Awards finalists


Soup, Preserves & Accompaniments (sponsored by Asda):

Island Girl, Borders Ooft hot pepper sauce

Isle of Skye Sea Salt Company, Fine Grain Sea Salt Premium Grain Sea Salt

Summer Harvest Oils, Perth & Kinross. Truffle Infused Oil

Fish & Seafood (sponsored by The Crown Estate):

Gigha Halibut, Smoked Gigha Halibut

Loch Fyne Oysters, the Kinglas Fillet

The Argyll Smokery, Scottish Smoked Trout; hot & cold smoked mussels; homemade fish pates; kiln roasted smoked salmon

Bakery & Cereal based products (sponsored by Asda):

Angelic Gluten Free Ltd, Highlands,  Sea Salt and Sweet Chilli savoury biscuits

Mathiesons Bakery Ltd, Falkirk, Tarts - Fresh Cream, Bavarian, Mandarin, Mixed Berry

Nairn's Oakcakes, Edinburgh, Gluten free biscuit breaks - chocolate chip

Red, White & Game (sponsored by Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight):

Amhuinnsuidhe Castle Estate Products, Western Isles, Amhuinnsuithe Castle Estate Venison cuts

Macsween, Midlothian, Macsween Limited Edition Range: Venison Haggis and Threebird Haggis

Scotty Brand, North Lanarkshire, Smoked & Unsmoked Back Bacon

Drink - Non Alcoholic (sponsored by Asda):

Berry Scrumptious, Aberdeenshire, Summerhouse Drinks: Misty Lemonade Summerhouse Drinks: Hint o'Mint

Cuddybridge Apple Juice, Scottish Borders, Cuddybridge Apple Juice and Scottish Sea Buckthorn

Eteaket Tea, Edinburgh, range of leaf teas available loose or in leaf tea bags (for retail & foodservice)

Drink -  Alcoholic (sponsored by Shepherd & Wedderburn):

Lerwick Brewery, 60° North

Pincer Vodka, Glasgow, Crossbill Gin

Spencerfield Spirit Co, Fife, The Feathery

Dairy (sponsored by Asda):

Glenrath Farms, Borders, Kitty Campbell Free Range Eggs

Graham's The Family Dairy, Stirling, Graham's Scottish Cheddar Cheese

Shetland Cheese Ltd, Shetland Islands, St Ninians

Confectionery & Snacking (sponsored by Asda):

Hello Chocolate!, Fife, The Walk - A Bespoke Collection of Artisan Chocolates

Mackies at Taypack, Perth & Kinross, Mackie's Ridge Cut Potato Crisps

The Wee Fudge Company, East Renfrewshire, Handmade Scottish Fudge - Hebridean Sea Salt & Caramel Handmade Scottish Fudge - Cranachan

Foodservice Product of the Year (sponsored by Sodexo):

Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier,  Perth & Kinross, Un-enrobed Velvet Truffles & Spiced Pralines

Pulsetta Foods Limited, Aberdeen, Pulsetta Bread Crumbs

Taste of Arran, North Ayrshire, Arran Blue Cheese

Brand Success of the Year (sponsored by Palletforce):

Graham's The Family Dairy, Stirling

Mackie's at Taypack, Perth & Kinross

Scotty Brand Ltd, North Lanarkshire

Export Business of the Year (sponsored by Clydesdale Bank): 

FA027 (trading as Intersea Food Scotland Ltd), Highlands

Mackays, Angus

Mackie's at Taypack, Perth & Kinross

Innovation (sponsored by Queen Margaret University):

Insignia Technologies, North Lanarkshire

iQ Chocolate, Stirling

Rannoch Smokery, Perth & Kinross

Investing in People (sponsored by Skills Development Scotland):

Dean's of Huntly Limited, Aberdeenshire 

The Scottish Salmon Company, Edinburgh

Success Through Partnership (sponsored by SAOS):

Aldi Stores Ltd, West Lothian

FAO27 (trading as Intersea Food Scotland Ltd), Highlands

Food and Drink Hub (Scotland), North Lanarkshire

Environmental Sustainability (sponsored by Resource Efficient Scotland):

Albert Bartlett, North Lanarkshire

Island Bakery Organics, Argyll & Bute

The Ethical Shellfish Company, Argyll & Bute

Scottish Sourcing (sponsored by Taste Our Best, VisitScotland)

Frankie's Fish & Chips, Shetland Islands

The Bridge Inn at Ratho, Edinburgh

Scottish Food & Drink Entrepreneur (sponsored by Johnston Carmichael):

FAO27 (trading as Intersea Food Scotland Ltd), Highlands

Graham's The Family Dairy, Stirling

Stephens Bakery,  Fife