Meet The Foodies jury

Our thanks to members of our jury judging applications in rounds one and two of the Foodies selection process.

Mella Frewen

Director General FoodDrinkEurope

SMEs are intimately involved in their communities, supporting not only local agriculture, but also local jobs and development. They play an essential part in our economy, in our culture and our environment. And that’s why, with these awards, we want to recognise some of their best efforts to move towards more sustainable food systems.

Ivan Štefanec

MEP, Slovakia (EPP)

Reflecting current economic and environmental challenges, European food and drink SMEs are transforming to a resilient industry delivering more sustainable products to customers, while maintaining the taste and tradition that we all enjoy. We want to celebrate the innovative SMEs and start-ups working to make our food more sustainable and fit for healthier lifestyles.

Elsi Katainen

MEP, Finland (Renew Europe)

The agri-food sector in Europe is known for the top quality and safety of products, building European food security. Small and medium-sized companies in Europe are innovative and future-oriented, and now you have a chance to show it.

Gerardo Fortuna

AgriFood & Health Editor, EURACTIV

Evidence that SMEs are the beating heart of Europe’s economy is their commitment to sustainability, which has always gone hand-in-hand with the political ambition. Keeping a closer eye on this beating heart is great to check Europe's 'pulse' and see where we are going, what we really want and how the transition in the food systems can be done.

Christine Gould

CEO, Thought for Food

The role of start-ups and next-generation innovators in food systems transformation is essential. Why? Because today's purpose-driven and impact-focused entrepreneurs apply attitudes like openness and collaboration to create innovations underpinned by open & circular business models that enable true sustainability. They are the green shoots that push things forward.

Kristin Schreiber

Director Chemicals, Food, Retail at DG GROW
European Commission

When it comes to eating and drinking, European citizens want sustainable, high-quality produce for a good price. 99% of operators in this ecosystem are SME’s which are therefore the backbone of this ecosystem and hold the key to ensure the competitiveness of the industry. New and innovative solutions by European entrepreneurs are critical for the transition to more sustainability.

Angela Frigo

Secretary General, European Food Banks Federation

SMEs play a key role because they care about the environment and its inhabitants, both humans and animals. They give value to everything: nothing and no-one is waste but everything and everyone is a resource. They combine tradition with the present, for the future of new generations


Who can enter?

In the hat to win are the 290,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that make up 99% of the food and drink manufacturing industry in Europe. Entrants must represent an SME based in a member state of the European Union. An SME is defined as follows:

– Employing no more than 250 people
– Generating a turnover of no more than €50m or a balance sheet total of €43m

For the Next-Gen Innovator award, entrants must be 40 or under with a start-up based in the European Union.

Why should your organisation enter to win?

After a hard 2020 we want you to look at The Foodies as an opportunity to bring some joy back to work, to provide a morale boost to your team and to tell your sustainability story to a wide audience. You can count on plenty of exposure across FoodDrinkEurope’s online channels, an easy entry process AND every entry will automatically generate a donation from FoodDrinkEurope to the European FoodBanks Federation.

What does the judging process look like and who is on the jury?

Stage 1

  • A FoodDrinkEurope staff panel* will select a long list of up to 15 winners in each award category from the initial submissions. These stage 1 winners will be asked to send a detailed submission as outlined below.
  • *A Thought For Food member will be on the panel for the Next-Gen Innovator award.

Stage 2

  • Based on the detailed submission, a ‘stage 2’ judging panel made up of two FoodDrinkEurope Directors will select a short list of up to five stage 2 winners in each category.
  • *Two Thought For Food members will be on the panel for the Next-Gen Innovator award.

Stage 3

  • A ‘finals’ independent judging panel will select the winners in each category, based on the selection criteria below.
  • *Thought For Food CEO Christine Gould will be on the panel for the Next-Gen Innovator award.


What are the judging criteria?

The stage 2 and stage 3 judging panels will judge the detailed submissions based on 9 criteria. Each will be scored 0-5, with a final mark out of 45.

How do we define an SME and impact start-up?

An SME is a micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) which employs no more than 250 people and which has an annual turnover not exceeding €50m or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding €43m.

An impact start-up is an innovative new business, in the early stages of growth. You fall into this category if you are a small nimble team that kickstarts change through innovative approaches and by disrupting the status quo. A start-up usually starts with an idea – big or small – and with the help of self or external funding you turn this idea into a small business ready to tackle big problems.

When will the winners be announced?

The competition was launched in February 2021. Entries collected from February until 31 May 2021. The awards ceremony took place on 28 September 2021.

I have another question, where can I find an answer?

Please download the slide deck on this site for more details. If you still don’t find what you’re looking for reach out to


Looking for a bit more info? No problem. E-mail us at


Download a slide deck to share internally