High Road Craft Ice Cream won top prize in the dairy division of this year’s Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. Since winning the University of Georgia contest, the company has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Eight months ago High Road Craft sold its handmade ice cream to about 50 restaurants in Atlanta. Today, their creamy desserts are featured in 150 restaurants, 22 Whole Food Markets and on the shelves of specialty markets from North Carolina to Colorado.
“The Flavor of Georgia contest really brought a lot of exposure to us, our sales have quadrupled,” said Nicki Shroeder, the company’s chief marketing officer. “After winning the contest, we could add ‘Flavor of Georgia Award Winner’ to our marketing materials and it gave credibility to our products.”
On March 13, the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development will reveal the winners of the 2012 Flavor of Georgia contest at Georgia Ag Day.
Judges look for market-ready foods - either commercially available or prototypes - from across the state. Categories include barbecue and hot sauces, confections, dairy products, meat products, snack foods, and jams, jellies and sauces. Entries are judged on flavor, best use of Georgia ingredients, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality.
Flavor of Georgia is only a starting point for many of the category winners, said Sharon Kane, contest director.
"More than 70 percent of last year's contestants saw an increase in their sales, publicity, business contacts and product interest following the contest," Kane said.
Shroeder said winning helped boost her business, but fostering relationships with other contestants and judges was another prize handed out by the contest.
“We got a lot of great feedback about the product from judges,” she said. “And being a part of something with so many great Georgia businesses was really rewarding. It is a neat event where we are paying homage to each other.”
High Road Craft Ice Cream works with another contestant, Southern Swiss Dairy, to source fresh dairy for its cream.
Product registrations will be accepted through Feb. 10, 2012. Semifinalists will be announced in February. Final judging will be March 12 at the Freight Depot in Atlanta. Register early and receive a reminder to send in products for judging.
Contestants can register online at www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu and save $10 off registration fees. For more information, contact Kane at (706) 542-9809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual food contest is sponsored by the CAED in partnership with the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, Office of Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Walton EMC and the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.
(April R. Sorrow is a science writer with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)