Hillfarm Oils has been named winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by Thomas Ridley Foodservice, at the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2024

The Hillfarm team are true Suffolk pioneers who have led the development of a product that has become known as ‘Britain’s olive oil’.

Sam Fairs’ family has farmed in Suffolk since 1967, and it was back in 2004 when he and wife Clare first experimented with cold pressing the oilseed rape they grew at their farm in Heveningham, near Halesworth.

Sam’s aim was to extract more value from his crop by producing a British oil that could out-perform imported olive oil. The result was a sunny yellow oil, naturally healthy and extremely versatile in the kitchen and at the table.

Containing heart-healthy omega 3 and the lowest levels of saturated fats of all plant oils, this oil was perfect for frying, roasting, baking or as a base for dressings, sauces and marinades, whilst also being fully traceable and sustainable.

That same year, Sam and Clare took their bottles of oil, each hand-filled and sealed, to the Suffolk Show where they launched Hillfarm Oils.

Buoyed by the positive reaction, they then took their Suffolk product to shows and events around the country, even appearing on television.

Over time, Hillfarm Oils found its way onto the shelves of food shops and supermarkets and, as its popularity grew, Sam and Clare created other high-quality products such as flavoured oils and mayonnaise.

Other labels began to emerge as producers around the country followed the couple’s pioneering lead. But in Suffolk, Hillfarm Oils remains the original, tried and trusted brand.

The judges said that Hillfarm Oils represents “a true example of a hardworking, family-run business”.

Now celebrating their 20-year anniversary, Sam and Clare have “taken everything thrown at them in their stride” and through continuous success, from working with celebrity chefs to gaining distribution in major supermarkets, have “led the way in cold pressed rapeseed oil, championing its health benefits to the British public”.

Sam Fairs said it was a “bit of a shock” to win Outstanding Achievement, but went on to comment that “it’s a huge honour to be recognised for what we do on a day-to-day basis as a very small part of the Suffolk food and drink movement”.

“It’s an honour and a delight,” he said, “and it was a huge surprise to be awarded this particular award. We are very proud to be a very small cog, just like everyone else working towards local food, and this is a celebration and promotion of what we do and why we do it.”

To find out more about all the winners, please click here.

For more information on the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, please visit suffolkfada.co.uk