First place in the Collaboration in Business Award section went to the partnership between fruit juice and syrup manufacturer Fruitapeel from Llantrisant and Soulmatefood Ltd, a healthy-eating, tailored meal delivery service popularised by celebrities and sports starts such as actress Michelle Keegan, pop group The Saturdays, and cricketer Stuart Broad. Judges were impressed by how the two firms had worked closely together to streamline the packing, storage, and distribution of the fruit juices Fruitapeel supplies to Lancashire-based Soulmatefood Ltd, which has not only reduced transportation costs and food miles, but also cut waste due to extending product shelf-life.
The partnership saw off a strong challenge from runner-up the Taste Montgomery project, an initiative which sees more than 20 small-scale food producers located within a six mile radius of the town – including award-winning cider manufacturer Old Monty Cider, which nominated the group for the award – work together to promote the area as a tourist destination. The judging panel noted how the group has successfully publicised itself collectively through a branded website and marketing leaflets, while the project’s development of a series of special local ‘food trails’ and events was also commended.
Horticulture Wales’ second annual Environmental Excellence Award, which is aimed at recognising sustainability and resource efficiency, was claimed by Quinky Young Plants, a wholesale alpine plant and herb nursery based in Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire. All plants at the nursery are grown peat-free, without the use of any pesticides. Judges were also impressed with owner Charles Warner’s investment in reusable storage trays and his decision to change from round to square-shaped pots, which means he can now transport twice as many plants per delivery. He was also praised for enthusiastically promoting his plants using ‘Grown in Wales’ bespoke labels and bilingual signs, a concept he also encourages through an online blog and social media.
Runner-up prize went to Penlan Perennials, a nursery from Newchapel, Pembrokeshire, that sells hardy plants such as geraniums via online and mail order. The business, which has been named as one of the top 100 Welsh companies in the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) ‘Pocket Green Guide for Wales’, was acknowledged for its tie-up with a carbon-neutral courier company, its peat-free and organic growing system, and for using old newspapers, biodegradable plastic, and recycled cardboard boxes to package its plants.
The winners and runners-up were presented with commemorative paperweights and certificates by Rebecca Evans AM, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, at a ceremony staged as part of sector skills council Lantra’s ‘Land-Based Learner of the Year Awards’.
Dr David Skydmore, project director of Horticulture Wales, said: "Our awards aim to celebrate the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that runs throughout the entire horticulture supply chain in Wales, from growers and producers, through to manufacturers and retailers.
"This year’s finalists are all fantastic examples of this ethos, whether it’s groups joining forces on joint-marketing initiatives, businesses working closely together to improve how a product is packed, stored, and distributed, or growers finding ways to use resources more efficiently. Many congratulations to all our winners and runners-up."