At the very core of the Scottish Retail Food & Drink Awards lies the credibility, transparency and inclusiveness of our judging process.

To achieve the high standards we have set ourselves, we draw our judging panel from a broad cross-section of the food and drink sector covering all major disciplines. Their wide and varied skillsets and expertise are fundamental to the credibility of our Awards and ensure that the impartiality of our process is always upheld. The expertise of the panel should give assurance to entrants that their products will receive a balanced, fair and thorough assessment.

The first stage of judging will take place remotely with all food and drinks products being sent to the judges in their home. This will allow the judges to see the product exactly as a consumer would. They hold the product, they open the packaging, they prepare the product – following on-pack guidelines. For drink products, the judges will receive industry-standard prepared samples. The Lead Judges will receive the drinks product in its shelf form.

The Judges can spend as much time as they want with the product before writing up their notes (in privacy, away from the wider panel) and submitting them to the Chair. Together, the panel will then discuss their thoughts and agree on finalists before awarding Gold, Silver and Bronze as they see fit.

During this process:

  • Products will be grouped in an appropriate way and allocated to sets of Judges.
  • Every judging group will be hosted and chaired remotely by a Lead Judge.
  • In advance of every session, Judges will receive a pack containing information, samples and photographs of every product included in their judging group.
  • Products will be prepared by Judges strictly in line with on-pack instructions.
  • Drinks products will be judged in a two-part process: firstly, blind tasted; then the product’s packaging will be evaluated. This will be done in their own home or workplace, thereby accurately replicating the consumer’s experience. Drinks entrants are permitted to suggest ideal serves or mixers and these will be followed by the Judges where possible.
  • Every entrant will receive comprehensive feedback from the judging panel, after the awards have been announced. This has proven to be an invaluable tool for brands wishing to use the expert insight to steer further product development.

Following this first round, Judges will then come together to assess and decide on the Platinum winners.

All products will be assessed against a range of vital criteria including:

Taste, flavour, texture, aroma and appearance

  • These points are top of the agenda – products should look and taste great, with a well-balanced texture and aromas.

Price and value for money

  • Our judging panel will want to know the price of each product that they are judging, does it represent great value for money? It could be a high value item, or a budget line, but does it represent good value at either price point?

Ingredients and nutritional profile

  • We are looking for products with a clean ingredients list, free from ‘nasties’ – does its nutritional profile meet the claims that it makes on pack? (e.g. no palm oil please!)


  • Successful products should have eye-catching packaging. Packaging should be practical (easy to open, stores well etc.) and, where possible, take the current sustainability challenges into consideration.


  • Do you meet all the legal requirements? Do you have all the relevant, applicable accreditations? Are you retail-ready? Are allergens clearly highlighted? Do you offer clear preparation guidance or serve suggestions?


  • Is the product innovative? Is it following the latest trends, or setting new trends?