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Flavor of Georgia celebrates tradition of artisan and craft foods By Merritt Melancon

From cheeses to chutneys, craft chocolate to chorizo, the 2015 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest—hosted by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development—will celebrate Georgians’ creativity and craftsmanship by finding the best value-added products in the state.

Registration opened Monday for the 2015 contest.

“Flavor of Georgia is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain publicity and exposure for their products,” said Sharon P. Kane, a UGA food business development specialist and the contest’s coordinator. “It’s also a chance for them to network with other food entrepreneurs and industry experts.”

Nearly 90 percent of the finalists in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Contest reported seeing increased interest in their products following the contest, and many others benefitted from increased sales, profits, publicity and website traffic, she said. Some also indicated an increase in full- and part-time employees.

More than 50 percent saw an increase in new contracts within one month of the contest.

A follow-up survey of past finalists, from the 2007 through 2012 contests, found that they attributed about 11 percent of their business revenue to their participation in Flavor of Georgia.

Finalists and winners will be eligible to participate in a number of high-profile industry showcases throughout 2015, including the Georgia Grown Symposium, the Georgia National Fair and showcase days at the Buford Highway Farmers Market. They also will receive industry feedback and use of the Flavor of Georgia finalist logo for their product’s packaging.

Winners will be featured in the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown magazine, a statewide publicity push, a booth at the Georgia Food Industry Association conference, a spot at the Sherwood Food Distributors annual food show and receive use of Flavor of Georgia winner logo for their packaging.

Contest finalists will be invited to participate in the final round of judging and a public tasting March 9-10 as part of the Governor’s Agricultural Awareness Day in Atlanta.

Food marketing experts, grocery buyers, chefs and Georgia agricultural experts will judge each product based on flavor, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities and commercial appeal.

Registration runs through Jan. 30 and includes commercially available products or market-ready prototypes. Product categories include barbecue sauces; beverages; confections; dairy products; jams and jellies; marinades and sauces; meat and seafood; salsas, chutneys and condiments; snack foods; and miscellaneous products. There is no limit to the number of products an individual can submit.

Follow @Flavor_of_GA on Twitter for updates. For more information or to register, see flavorofgeorgia.com or call 706-583-0347. Registration is $100 per product for entries completed online or $115 each for entries received by mail. Registration prices will increase in the last weeks before the deadline.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

FOG 2014 Nature's Harmony
FOG 2014 Nature's Harmony

Tim Young, center, receives the Flavor of Georgia grand prize for his Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar from Gov. Nathan Deal and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black after the 2014 contest.

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Tim Young, center, receives the Flavor of Georgia grand prize for his Georgia Gold Clothbound Cheddar from Gov. Nathan Deal and Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black after the 2014 contest. Download Image
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