FFB LAUDS BRITISH FOOD EXPORTS AT AWARDS SHOW

NEW YORK -- A Food Emporium store and five British companies were presented with awards from Food From Britain North America, Greenwich, Conn., at the offices of the British Consulate-General here in conjunction with The Summer International Fancy Food & Confection show earlier this month.The Food Emporium Bridgemarket received an award for being the "Foodie Lover's Destination Store," in part for

NEW YORK -- A Food Emporium store and five British companies were presented with awards from Food From Britain North America, Greenwich, Conn., at the offices of the British Consulate-General here in conjunction with The Summer International Fancy Food & Confection show earlier this month.

The Food Emporium Bridgemarket received an award for being the "Foodie Lover's Destination Store," in part for its selection of British-made products, including Boddington's Pub Ale, which won an award for its parent, Whitbread, as Brand Builder of the Year. Dennis Schess, the manager of A&P's Food Emporium Bridgemarket, at First Avenue and 59th Street under the Queensboro Bridge, accepted the award. The ceremony marked the first annual FFB Foodie Awards of Foods From Britain.

Many attending the party had flown in to exhibit at the Fancy Food Show, which is run and owned by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, based here.

It's been a tough year for British food exports, many said, since red meat to continental Europe was completely suspended from trade, there were threats of trade reprisals, and economic slowdowns were felt in key markets.

"The real heroes of the British food and drink industry are those small firms which, thank goodness, are exporting," said Thomas Harris, the British consul-general, as he introduced the award winners. "The British take their food and drink very seriously, and Food From Britain does a fantastic job in promoting them."

Steve Dawson, president of Food From Britain North America, told the gathering that North America is now the No. 2 export market, having just overtaken France, making the country second only to Ireland.

Judged most successful new product of 2001 was a United States-specific line extension of a venerable British brand, Altoids Cinnamon Mints, which, although now owned by Kraft Foods, are made in a small factory in York, Great Britain, by Callard & Bowser.

Gordon Summerfield, chairman of Food From Britain, presented five of the awards. Judging was done by Food From Britain.

Brand Builder of the Year, Boddington's Pub Ale, was unknown just four years ago, Summerfield noted. "It's a quality product," he said, that has followed the pattern of being served first in bars and restaurants, then making its way to the supermarkets. Distributed by Labatt, it is owned by European Interbrew, which also owns Bass.

Bridgemarket Food Emporium sells many British products and is "spectacular, a triumph of architecture, and a store that promotes itself," Summerfield said.

The Brand to Watch in 2002 is Coleman's Mustard, another venerable English brand dating back to 1814, the presenter said. It was formerly manufactured in New Jersey, but since Unilever bought the Coleman's brand from Reckitt-Benckiser, and production takes place in Norwich, England, it can truly be described once again as the authentic English hot mustard, Dawson said. Coleman's is imported by Bri-al, a New Jersey company selected by Unilever.

The award for the Most Innovative British Product Exhibited at the Summer Fancy Food show went to Tikka Marinades from Shere Kahn Foods, a company that has only been in business two or three years. First, the company set up an Indian restaurant in Manchester, and then demand grew for its bottled sauces. "They did two things differently," Dawson explained. "They de-mystified Indian cuisine, using simple classy packaging. And, they capitalized on the British craze for barbecues, which has happened in the last few years. Everyone is buying Weber grills and building decks, despite the weather. Shere Kahn was recognized for the fusion of Indian food with barbecue sauces in a clean, friendly, modern package," said Dawson. They are looking for importers in the United States and Canada.

Also, Coombe Castle International, Bath, won a Foodie trophy for enterprise and recognition of business expertise. The company works very closely with retailers like H-E-B, San Antonio, and "they have figured out a way to get their cheese to the American Southwest in excellent condition," Dawson said. The company's Devon Cream line is noted for adapting product and packaging for key U.S. markets.

"It ain't just about tea and biscuits," Dawson added.