The Cream Award for Innovation – A judge and past winner gives his thoughts on this fantastic category.



We have asked Dr Graham Shepherd to explain the Innovation Award category, what he thinks innovation actually is, why you should enter this important category and what he will be looking for as part of the judging panel.

The Cream Awards is the premier event in the UK dairy  industry. The awards are both supported by and honouring farmers, farm team members,  processors, and suppliers.

Caroline Calder, a Director of British Dairying does a fantastic job of organising the whole awards- the promotion, the judging and the big evening.

The Innovation Award category is one of the major categories in The Cream Awards, there can only be one winner, but there is recognition of many more innovators by being on the shortlist of ten and those that are highly commended in that list.

Briefly, innovation is putting ideas into action. A longer definition would be “Implementation of ideas to introduce a new product or service, or improve an existing product or service”.

So, have you had a great idea, then acted on that idea to introduce it to the market and sell it? Have you developed or launched your innovative product or service in the last two years?

If you have and you think it’s a good development, then please enter. It is a self-nominating category, so put your self forward. It’s one of those situations where you have to ‘blow your own trumpet’.

You can enter via the awards website and upload your information, or you can send by email. The organisers can advise on what to include in your entry. Entries need to be in by the end of May.

Some pointers for your entry:

What was your idea? Is it new? Is it an improvement? What is different? What is the development you have made & how long have you been selling it. How is it going? Do you have customer feedback? What are you own calculations? What are the results so far? Do you have any independent evidence?  What are the benefits? For example:

  • Another dairy based product, food or otherwise
  • Another use for a dairy byproduct
  • Improved productivity or efficiency
  • Greater Profit
  • Improved wellbeing of animals and / or humans
  • Environmental benefits
  • Who does it benefit, how far do the benefits spread….


Previously winners included companies of all sizes, family businesses to multinational corporates. In this case, size of the company does not matter, but it needs to be a big idea with a big impact!  In fact, last year there was three family businesses shortlisted and all from our postcode.

I’m only part of the judging panel, but I would prefer the innovation to be actually active and delivering results, rather than an untested concept.

Benefits of entering-

For me it helped me get my thoughts together about what we had developed and were doing and how to explain to anyone our PlastiSave® system, its plastic drum saving features, proven cost benefits, and environmental impact, not just explaining to the award judges.  So, if I hadn’t even have been shortlisted, I would have benefitted from the thought process.

If you are shortlisted, you will benefit from

  • Exposure in the press and social media from the Awards and British Dairying. The magazine does a good job of showcasing the innovations.
  • Reasons to promote yourselves in your own communications
  • Encouragement for the team and confirmation that you are doing a good job and that it really does matter!
  • Being officially recognised as someone or a firm that works to improve the dairy industry in some way.
  • Meeting people, networking or ‘notworking’ and enjoying the awards night.

A number of entries are Highly Commended, but there can be only one winner.

Winning the Innovation category brings further recognition and encouragement for you and your team, that you have really done good. It is just the beginning, now you need to work even harder to make the most out of your new product or service and bring the benefits to as many as possible.

The awards night this year is at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Warwickshire, close to what I still call “The Royal Showground”. The previous London venue was special, but the new venue is much more accessible for most.

So come on, if you have got something you are proud of, get entering! Find a frock or hire a suit and I’ll hopefully see you at The Cream Awards.

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