Georgia entrepreneurs and chefs only have a few weeks left if they want to participate in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.
The contest’s organizers are still looking for great jams, confections, barbecue sauces, cheeses, popsicles, granolas, soups and any other products that represent the future of Georgia’s storied culinary heritage.
The contest — sponsored by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development — helps food entrepreneurs expand the market for their products and gain notoriety for their companies.
“Flavor of Georgia is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain publicity and exposure for their products,” said Sharon P. Kane, food business development specialist with the UGA center. “It’s also a chance for them to network with other food entrepreneurs and industry experts.”
More than 90 percent of the finalists in the 2013 Flavor of Georgia Contest reported increased interest in their products through their experience with the Flavor of Georgia contest.
Three out of four finalists saw an increased interest in their products following the contest, and many others benefitted from increased sales, profits, publicity and website traffic. Some even indicated an increase in full and part time employees.
A follow up survey found that finalists saw on average a 27 percent increase in their revenues in the six months following the contest.
“Winning the grand prize has given Chocolate South, which has now been open for 15 months, real gravitas and has let everyone know that we are serious about our chocolates and flavor profiles,” said Amy Stankus, who won the 2013 grand prize with Chocolate South’s Peach Tea Bon-Bon. “Our retail and wholesale business is growing rapidly, and I give the Flavor of Georgia contest much credit for showcasing our chocolates.”
Finalists in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest will be invited to participate in the Governor’s Agricultural Awareness Day in March as well as in expositions at the Buford Highway Farmers Market, Georgia National Fair and the Serenbe May Day Festival. Winners will be given rights to use the Flavor Georgia logo on product labels and a free, silver-level membership in the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program.
Registration is now open and will run through Feb.7, 2014. Finalists will be invited to take part in a final judging and public tasting March 17-18, in Atlanta, Ga.
Contestants can submit products that are already commercially available or foods that are in the prototype stage. There is not a limit on the number of products that an individual can submit. Product categories include: barbecue sauces; beverages; jams and jellies; sauces and condiments; confections; meat and seafood products; dairy products; snack foods; and miscellaneous products.
A panel of judges — made up of food marketing experts, grocery buyers, chefs and Georgia agricultural experts — will judge each product based on flavor, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal, potential market volume and use of locally, sourced products.
More information about the contest and registration information is available online at www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu or by calling (706) 583-0347. The cost to enter is $50 per product if the contestant uses the competition website. Registration costs $75 per product if you register by mail.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)