NEIL Hamilton, MS for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, has welcomed the success of Welsh food & drink producers in the nationally acclaimed Great Taste Awards.

Neil Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, said he was delighted to see the continued success of Welsh produce.

Out of a record-breaking 12,777 entries from 106 different countries, 42% were awarded a highly prized Great Taste accolade and a remarkable 198 are based in Wales. 

Neil Hamilton said:

“We all know that Welsh food and drink are of superlative quality and excellent taste and it is fitting that the sector is recognised for this. Our food and drink businesses make a vital contribution to the Welsh economy.

“I was delighted to see so many producers from my Mid & West Region taking part in the Great Taste and I warmly congratulate all those who were awarded stars; especially those who gained the highest accolade.

“Entries come from all over the world including China, Russia and the USA so it is no mean feat to be recognised in such distinguished company.

“Well done to all the winners for their great achievement which shows what a fantastic spread of award-winning products we have here in Wales.”

Following 14 weeks of judging, the results of the world’s most trusted food and drink awards, Great Taste, have been released, with many producers in Wales now celebrating.

Among the Great Taste 3-star winners from Wales are a number of products that put fruity flavours centre stage, is Mario’s Red Cherry Sorbet from Mario’s Luxury Dairy Ice Cream in Llanelli, described as a “classic sorbet with the fruit singing from the rooftops, calling you back for more”. The Best of Hungary based in Machynlleth in Powys was also awarded the highest accolade for its Donum Terrae Pumpkin seed butter and its oil. 

While these producers enjoy their success and begin displaying the unmistakable gold and black Great Taste logo, with 1-, 2- or 3- stars, on their award-winning products, they will wait with much anticipation to see if they also scoop the top awards for their region. These final honours, including the Great Taste 2020 Supreme Champion, will be announced at the virtual Great Taste Golden Fork awards event, set to take place in October.

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is cake, coffee, kippers or kombucha being judged, all products are removed from their packaging before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

This year’s winners have been found through a combination of remote judging and socially distanced judging sessions after the lockdown began just one week into the schedule. This necessitated a swift and comprehensive reinvention of the Great Taste process to ensure that robust judging standards were maintained and the quality of feedback was not compromised, all in time to provide a much-needed boost for food and drink producers during the all-important Christmas period.

The panel of judges included; cook, writer and champion of sustainable food, Melissa Hemsley, cook, writer, stylist and voice of modern vegetarian cooking, Anna Jones, celebrated Spanish chef, José Pizarro, Kavi Thakrar from Dishoom, food writer and cook, Xanthe Clay, and baker and author, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Waitrose. These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners to finally agree on the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2020 Supreme Champion.

As the judges searched for the stars of 2020, waste was kept to a minimum, with unused products being donated to local food banks and hampers made up of excess products for local businesses to raffle in aid of charities. No plastic plates or cutlery were used during the judging rounds, reducing plastic waste by almost 100%. The Guild of Fine Food also donates surplus computer equipment, used to record the judges’ comments, to community-based projects across the UK, which are then refurbished and used to facilitate after school clubs and many other initiatives designed to support underprivileged families.

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