Co Down convenience veg company Mash Direct has been named the UK's top food manufacturing company at a London awards ceremony.
The family-run Comber firm defeated rivals including Coca-Cola, Moy Park, Weetabix and Kellogg's to be named Best Food Company in the UK at the Food Manufacture Excellence Awards. The awards recognise outstanding performance and innovation in manufacturing businesses throughout the UK.
The firm not only picked up the overall prize but also the award for chilled and fresh produce manufacturing company of the year.
Mash Direct was born when Tracy Hamilton, wife of farmer Martin, spotted a gap in the market for locally produced ready-to-eat veg.
The firm is now the biggest brand in the chilled side dish drawer in UK and Ireland supermarkets. The judging panel said it was impressed by the firm's innovation as well as its family ethos and values.
Director Jack Hamilton - the son of founders Tracy and Martin - said: "Even to be named among big companies such as Coca-Cola means a huge amount to the team, but to take the big prize back to the farm in Comber is unbelievable.
"Having only started out 12 years ago as a small farm diversification supplying to local stores in Killyleagh and Killinchy, we are astonished to have won company of the year.
"It means so much more to win this top prize during the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink to highlight the ground-breaking innovation that makes the food from these parts so special."