University of Georgia
Somewhere in Georgia, a food product is being developed. Without a little help, it could end up on a closet shelf, a dream half born.
It’s something Kent Wolfe sees regularly in his work at the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development: food producers and processors who have a good product or idea but no way to get it out of the warehouse and into customers’ hands.
“You can produce food, but how do you get it out of your door?” said Wolfe, a CAED marketing analyst. “We work with a lot of food people who don’t have the opportunity to get their ideas in front of retailers.”
His solution to this problem started with a concept program in 2002 that ended up on its own shelf for four years. With the help of Jim Daniels, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences food science and technology department, he dusted his contest idea off, and now it’s going to market.
The Flavor of Georgia Food Contest is looking for entries from across the state. Categories include sauces and condiments, confectionery, natural and organic, meat products, wine, snack foods, value-added produce and other. These can be either prototypes or commercially available.
Submissions must be in by Feb. 1, 2007. Final judging will take place on March 20 in Atlanta at the Georgia Ag Awareness Day celebration.
The contest won’t benefit just entrants. “On the other side, our business contacts are always looking for the next new product,” said Sharon Kane, a food business development specialist for CAED and CAES’s department of food science and technology.
Flavor of Georgia will provide publicity and exposure for small entrepreneurs seeking to enter the food processing industry or expand an existing product line into new markets. Winners can also choose to have their products stamped with the Flavor of Georgia Winner 2007 logo.
Major food retailers, food brokers and specialty food distributors throughout the state have signed on for the event.
And it’s all about Georgia flavor. “We’re emphasizing Georgia ingredients and Georgia products,” Wolfe said.
“One of the interesting things is that the criteria include the best use of Georgia ingredients,” Kane said. “All submissions will be telling us what’s best about their Georgia product and the story behind it.”
Entrants will be required to fill out a form, found at www.caed.uga.edu/newsletter/Flavor-of-Georgia-Entry-Form.doc, and submit two samples of their product along with related marketing materials. The cost is $25 per entry.
Entries will be judged on flavor, use of Georgia ingredients, unique and innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality.
Even those who don’t win will come out ahead. Wolfe plans to compile and send product lists cataloguing the entries to distributors “so everybody gets some kind of exposure,” he said.
For more information about the contest, contact Marian Wendinger at (706) 542-2574 (or email@example.com) or Jan Hamala at (706) 542-2434 (or firstname.lastname@example.org). Or visit the CAED Web site or the Food Science Extension Outreach Program Web site.
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)