The findings of a study investigating the performance of the UK food and drinks industry against the European Business Excellence Model are presented. The study involved 50 food companies assessing themselves (by questionnaire) against the nine criteria of the model. The major finding of the study was that, on average, food and drinks companies have less well developed management systems than other industries. Its main areas of strength are in resource and process management and its main areas of weakness are in policy and strategy, customer satisfaction, people satisfaction and impact on society. For the food industry to move forward, more companies should consider using self-assessment as a method for identifying improvement opportunities and assessing their progress towards business excellence.