The search for the UK’s top food and drink entrepreneurs has begun with Food & Drink Heroes, a new awards programme from the creators of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Food & Drink Heroes will recognise and champion entrepreneurs within the UK’s food and drink industry, shining a spotlight on and support them to continue growing.

UK food and drink is an international success story, exporting more than £23 billion of quality products each year. Challenger brands make-up 96% of Britain’s total food and drink businesses and these companies contribute to a highly significant £18 billion to the UK economy. Free to enter, it is a programme that will support, celebrate and recognise those entrepreneurs.

Francesca James, founder of both Food & Drink Heroes and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, said: “Food and drink contributes £31 billion to the economy and research shows that Britain’s food and drink sector continues to forge ahead at home and abroad despite current economic and political uncertainty.

“We’ve seen some incredible entrepreneurs come through the Great British Entrepreneur Awards over the past eight years since we launched, including the likes of BrewDog, whose founder was named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. The quality of entrepreneurs in that space showed us that it really needed a dedicated programme to champion their stories.

“Along with our dedicated partners, I’m really excited to see the inspiring stories that these entrepreneurs have.”

Alan Barratt, founder and CEO of Grenade®, who is joining the judging panel. He said: “Since winning at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards in 2018, and also being a part of last year’s judging panel, I have seen first-hand the brilliant opportunities this initiative can offer to up and coming entrepreneurs. I am looking forward to seeing what these new awards have in store!”

Another of the judges, Gareth Hobbs, managing director of Visionary Food Solutions, said: “One of the things I get most excited about in life is seeing challenger brands bringing innovation to the market. These are the brands that are creating and evolving trends globally, tapping into changing lifestyles to bring us newness that better meets these needs. I am thrilled to be involved in the judging panel with this new award which recognises and celebrates the country’s food and drink heroes.”

The awards programme will consist of 14 categories, including Innovation Entrepreneur of the Year, Confectionary Entrepreneur of the Year, Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year and Baked Goods Entrepreneur of the Year.

Entries will be assessed by some of the UK’s most successful food and drink entrepreneurs, as well as industry experts.

Entries are open until Friday 15th January 2021, with the awards ceremony taking place in Spring 2021.