What’s better than reaching into your pantry or refrigerator and pulling out a delicious product that’s made in your state? The University of Georgia's Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest helps to highlight the state's burgeoning food product scene with its annual competition.
Registration for the 2018 contest, which is coordinated each year by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is now open at flavorofga.com.
Now well into its second decade, the competition serves both food entrepreneurs, assisting them in testing new products and reaching a larger audience, and established brands, helping them break into new markets and receive accolades for established product lines.
“My sales are up just over 300 percent compared to last year,” said Jeff Campbell, who won the barbecue sauce category in 2017 with his Wicked Que Georgia Vinegar Sauce. “This is in big part to the contest. Not only winning it but just being a part of it has spurred me on to call on more stores and work harder on my sales.”
To date, more than 1,200 food products have been entered in the contest. Many of these products are sold in regional and national markets. As a result of the contest, some have increased their wholesale distribution or internet sales or experienced better traffic at local farmers markets.
"Flavor of Georgia participants tell us that the contest provides recognition, credibility and exposure for their products," said Sharon P. Kane, the contest coordinator and food business development specialist in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "It also provides a valuable resource for networking with other food entrepreneurs and industry experts."
Product categories include barbecue sauces, beverages, condiments and salsas, confections, dairy, honey, jams and jellies, meats and seafood, meat-alternative products, sauces and seasonings, snack foods, and miscellaneous products. There is no limit to the number of products an individual business can submit.
The early registration fee is $100 per entry and continues through Jan. 19, 2018. After that date, the price increases to $150 and remains open until Feb. 8, 2018. All entries are featured in the annual product directory, which is seen by leading food industry buyers and media outlets.
Contest finalists will be invited to participate in the final round of judging in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, through a live pitch to judges, with an awards reception immediately following.
The grand prize winner will be awarded an exhibit space for up to two registrants at the Georgia Food Industry Association annual convention – a value of more than $1,500 – and three consultation sessions from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center on product or process design, ingredient functionality, sensory testing and/or shelflife determination, a $1,500 value.
All finalists receive a Silver-level Georgia Grown membership, courtesy of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The contest is being held in conjunction with the department’s statewide Agricultural Awareness Week, which celebrates all aspects of the agricultural industry, from farmers to food businesses.
(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
(Josh Paine is a marketing specialist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)