Taste of the West Awards 2007

The best of the South West were named yesterday at the ceremony for the Taste of the West Awards 2007.

The ceremony was held at Forde Abbey in Somerset. Regional food ambassador Michael Caines MBE presented a total of 19 awards including eleven Best of Category product awards and the prestigious Champion Product Award.

This year, the champion title was taken by the Deli Farm Charcuterie in Delabole, Cornwall for their Coppa Air Dried Ham. Each Coppa ham is individually rubbed with a mix of salts and spices and slowly cured, then pressed into a natural skin and gradually air dried over a long period of time.

John Sheaves, Chief Executive Taste of the West, said: "The South West is renowned for its exceptional food and drink produce.

"The appeal of local products is higher than any other ethical alternative at the moment and that includes organic and fair trade.

"The food and drink industry must now face up to the market and deliver. The awards aim to provide an important quality benchmark, giving well deserved recognition and reward to those creating the very best produce and places to eat and drink in the region."

The title of South West Local Retailer of the Year went to Washingpool Farm Shop in North Allington, Dorset, which sells its own quality produce as well as that of local producers and businesses.

The Well Hung Meat Company secured the award for South West Online Retailer of the Year for their well-constructed, secure and easy-to-use website.

Entry forms for the Taste of the West Awards, sponsored by Budgens, are sent to over 3000 food and drink producers and over 4000 hospitality and retail outlets across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

This year's Awards had a record-breaking number of entries from South West based businesses- over 1,600 across all categories.

Budgens technical development controller, Jonathon Bayne, said: "The standard of entries goes up and up every year. There have been some very difficult decisions, but we've got some fantastic winners and some really interesting products.

"Supermarket buyers and consumers are increasingly looking out for local products with a real point of interest, so winning a Taste of the West Award is really important for all sectors involved."