Winterbotham Darby wins Plant-Based Food Manufacturer of the Year award

The Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2021 named Squeaky Bean and Vivera parent brand Winterbotham Derby as the best plant-based food manufacturing company.

Winterbotham Darby — parent company of plant-based brands Squeaky Bean and Vivera — has won Plant-Based Manufacturing Company of the Year at the 2021 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards.

This year marks the first year that the event has included a plant-based category, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary. It announced the category in July last year. opening it to companies who make meat-free or dairy-free food, drink or general plant-based meals for retail, foodservice, catering or hospitality. Winning the award puts Winterbotham Darby on Food Manufacture’s editorial radar and have it receive extra web coverage.

Across 13 categories, entries for the Food Manufacture Excellence Award had to demonstrate significant achievement in their category in at least one of the following areas: customer relationship building, quality assurance, environment and efficiency, skills development, and training and business development.

Squeaky Bean offers vegan alternatives to chicken, duck, beef and sandwich meat, while Vivera has a host of plant-based alternatives for bacon, steak, fish fillets, chicken goujons, garlic kiev and shawarma in its lineup.

Squeaky Bean launched in January 2020 and has since seen a meteoric rise in the plant-based food industry, accelerated by the pandemic. The band started as an on-site in a small pilot plant to trial ingredients, processes and flavours. But demand upscaled its production, which meant the brand opened a bespoke plant-based factory for its products, following a multimillion-pound refit at its Bicester-based facility.

Its project streams continued despite Covid-19, which resulted in a deadline-compliant transfer of operations to the new state-of-the-art facility. This effort spanned the new product development, technical, operations, logistics, supply chain, marketing and commercial teams.

Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby, said: “This is truly a fantastic team achievement, of which I am incredibly proud. The project team undertook an enormous challenge and were set a tough deadline to deliver. Once again, our passionate, committed, innovative and enthusiastic team achieved all that we set out to do — with positive feedback from customers and consumers alike for the finished product. To win this award further endorses all that hard work and to be recognised independently is a fantastic boost for the team.”

Judges who selected Winterbotham Darby as the Plant-Based Food Manufacturer of the Year told Squeaky Bean that the brand had shown “a clear commitment to innovation, building customer relationships and producing a quality product”. They praised the pace at which the products rolled out, calling it a good example of bringing plant-based chicken alternatives to mainstream markets.

Read our interview with Squeaky Bean co-founder Sarah Augustine.

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