5 July 2002

Cereal ideas take awards

By Olivia Cooper

MORE than 70 businesses with new ideas to increase UK cereal use competed for grants in the 2002 Enterprise Awards.

In all, 16 companies received awards totalling £218,500 in the event, sponsored by the Home-Grown Cereals Authority, Meat and Livestock Commission and Food From Britain. If all ventures reach fruition, they will increase UK cereal use by more than 119,000t over the next three years, says the HGCA.

Taking the largest award at this years presentation, held in Milton Keynes last week, was egg production company Deans Foods. The £27,000 will go towards producing and marketing white eggs to the catering industry. White-shelled eggs are favoured by food processors because they separate and shell easier than brown eggs, said development director Barry Vigus.

There are no commercial flocks of chickens that lay white eggs in the UK, and Deans Foods imports 10,000-15,000 cases every week. "Because most eggs on supermarket shelves are British, consumers automatically assume the eggs used in sandwiches and processed foods are British too," said Mr Vigus. He aims to have 200,000 birds housed in the UK by 2003, dramatically reducing the need for imports.

After last years successes, Dalehead Foods scooped another two awards for projects to increase cereal consumption in pigs. The meat processing company plans to carry out research into multi-phase feeding and heavier slaughter weights. It received £35,000 to invest in commercial trials, and any beneficial results will be passed directly on to its pig producers, said the firms Zoe Davies.

At the other end of the scale was Kincardineshire-based Tilquhillie Puddings, which started life as a farm diversification project producing oat-based steamed and Christmas puddings. The company has already won a Grampian Food Award for innovation and a Heart Campaign Award for healthy eating.

It plans to spend the £10,000 grant on perfecting a recipe, packaging and marketing of Clootie Dumplings, traditional Scottish fruit puddings often eaten at birthday celebrations. "We think it could have a great appeal to the tourist industry," said Tilquhillies Jill Adron. "Scotland has many visitors from Canada and the USA, the Clootie Dumpling would be a bit of Scotland to take home."

Other awards included £20,000 to the Fabulous Bakin Boys to export flapjacks to the US, £25,000 to Fold Hill Foods to develop novel pet foods and treats, and £20,000 to The Bread Roll Company to develop and market artisan breads in the UK.

"I am happier with the calibre of the companies that have come forward this year," said Meurig Raymond, chairman of British Cereal Products, adding that entries were among the best so far. &#42

Deans Foods Barry Vigus (left) and Mike Darrah hope to replace white egg imports used by caterers with home-produced eggs.