From pimiento cheese to prosciutto, Georgians take their food seriously. And they make some seriously good food.
Each year the University of Georgia's Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest highlights the state's burgeoning Georgia-made food industry and helps separate the great products from the good ones.
Registration for the 2019 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.
"Flavor of Georgia is an exciting, one-of-a-kind contest for our state’s food artisans,” said David Goodson, co-owner of 2018 Flavor of Georgia winner Goodson Pecans. “It serves to bring tremendous recognition to producers of quality craft food made with delicious Georgia-grown ingredients. I highly recommend all craft food makers to enter it. We have been so grateful for the opportunities our win has opened up for the growth of our small business and the support we have had from great people across our state and region."
To date, more than 1,300 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, improved internet sales or experienced better traffic at local farmers markets.
“The Flavor of Georgia contest is a great opportunity to showcase the variety and quality of the delicious products being made in Georgia these days, and it’s also a chance for entrepreneurs to introduce their products to larger markets,” said Sharon P. Kane, the contest coordinator and food business development specialist at the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “Every year we hear from contestants who were able to build new partnerships with either other entrepreneurs, distributors or stores after the contest.”
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 product entry and continues through Jan. 14, 2019. After that date, the price increases to $150 and remains open until Jan. 28. All entries are featured in the annual product directory, which is seen by leading food industry buyers and media outlets.
Contest finalists are invited to participate in the final round of judging in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 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 (FoodPIC) Center on product or process design, ingredient functionality, sensory testing and/or shelf-life determination, a $1,500 value.
All finalists receive a one-year 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.