A local firm which produces ethnic snacks for the UK’s biggest supermarkets has been named Food Manufacturer of the Year.

SK Chilled Foods also scooped the title of Chilled Manufacturing of the Year in the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, which were held in London this week.

The two awards, regarded as the Oscars of the food manufacturing world, recognised the technical innovation that resulted in the company making record sales of £60 million last year.

From its head offices in Wynyard and two factories Middlesbrough, SK Chilled Foods makes ethnic snacks, accompaniments for meals, and own-label party food for the UK’s biggest supermarkets, as well as restaurant chains and food service companies.

The awards’ independent judging panel – lead by Paul Wilkinson, chair of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink – praised the firm’s relentless attention to detail in carving out its place in the highly competitive UK snacks market estimated to be worth £119M a year.

He said: “Every year, the judges’ challenge to pick out just one winner becomes a little more difficult.”

“But this year SK Chilled Foods emerged as the judges’ top choice, thanks to its deep commitment to new product development, process innovation and customer service.”

SK Chilled Foods’ Managing Director Jeremy Faulkner said: “We operate in a very competitive marketplace and there are lots of excellent food manufacturers in the UK, so to be named the best is an amazing honour.

“We pride ourselves on our new product development, technical integrity, service and the constant drive for innovation.

“It would have been impossible to win these awards without the hard work and commitment of the 675 staff who work for SK Chilled Foods.

“From the development chefs and head office team, to the people in the factories, everyone has played their part in our success and I would like to thank them for their amazing effort.”

The annual FMEAs, organised by William Reed’s Food Manufacture Group,are  now in their 17th year and have become the premier showcase for British food and drink manufacturing excellence.

This year’s FMEAs included seven manufacturing awards: Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year, Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year, Beverages Manufacturing Company of the Year, Chilled Food Manufacturing Company of the Year, Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year, Fresh Produce Manufacturing Company of the Year and Meat and Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year.

FMEA Oscars were also awarded for: Best New Use of Food Ingredients, Environmental Initiative of the Year, Supply Chain Initiative of the Year, Training Programme of the Year, SME Innovation of the Year and Judges’ Star Performer.

The final two awards were for: Young Talent of the Year and the Me and My Factory: Editor’s Choice Award.