Published on 12/18/19

UGA's Flavor of Georgia launches 14th annual food product contest Jan. 2

By Madison Thornhill

There’s no magic recipe for success, but there is a time-proven secret ingredient: the Flavor of Georgia food product contest.

For the past 13 years, local food and beverage businesses have found their way into grocery stores and homes across the state after receiving recognition from the University of Georgia’s Flavor of Georgia food product contest. As the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences gears up for this year’s contest, they are announcing a new ingredient: Georgia’s Classic City. 

The unique food scene of Athens and UGA’s commitment to growing small businesses makes the city the perfect location to bring the contest into a new decade. The contest has been held in downtown Atlanta since 2007.

“We are so pleased to bring our contest home to Athens in 2020,” said Sharon P. Kane, contest organizer and an agricultural economist with the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. “Athens’ unique cultural and food scene is built on the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs who are motivated by their passion for their products. That’s what has fueled Flavor of Georgia for more than a decade, and Athens’ creative electricity is going to help us take the contest and our contestants to the next level.”

The competition serves new and established food entrepreneurs alike, with 4 out of 5 contest finalists reporting increased interest in their products after the contest. More than 75% of finalists report new business contacts and increased sales. Finalists see an average increase in sales of 20.6%, according to a recent survey of finalists between 2014 and 2019.

The contest, which allows businesses to showcase their products and receive feedback from industry professionals, has launched many products onto the shelves of supermarkets and specialty stores across the country.

The impact of the contest is felt most dramatically by young businesses, Kane said.

Registration for the 2020 contest, which is coordinated by the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, will open on Jan. 2, 2020, at

The early registration fee is $100 per entry and continues through Jan. 31, 2020. After that date, the price increases to $150 and remains open until Feb. 7, 2020. 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 a final round of judging on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, at the Classic Center in Athens. An awards reception will immediately follow the final competition.

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.

Judges evaluate each product based on flavor, texture and ingredient profile. Products are also considered for potential market volume, consumer appeal and overall product representation of Georgia. 

Madison Thornhill is a student assistant in the CAES Office of Communications and Creative Services.

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