Athens, Ga. – Organizers of the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest are looking for great jams, confections, barbecue sauces, cheeses, popsicles, granolas, soups and any other products that are exceptionally edible.
The contest—sponsored by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development—helps food entrepreneurs expand the markets for their products and gain notoriety for their companies.
“Flavor of Georgia is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to gain publicity and exposure for their products,” said Sharon P. Kane, a food business development specialist in the center. “It’s also a chance for them to network with other food entrepreneurs and industry experts.”
Nearly 90 percent of the finalists in the 2013 Flavor of Georgia Contest reported they met new and useful business contacts through the experience, she said. Three out of four finalists saw an increased interest in their products following the contest. Many others increased sales, profits, publicity and website traffic. Some even indicated an increase in full- and part-time employees.
A six-month follow-up survey found that finalists saw an average increase of 27 percent in their revenues in the months following the contest.
“Winning the grand prize has given Chocolate South, which has now been open for 15 months, real gravitas and has let everyone know that we are serious about our chocolates and flavor profiles,” said Amy Stankus, who won the 2013 grand prize with Chocolate South’s Peach Tea Bonbon. “Our retail and wholesale business is growing rapidly, and I give the Flavor of Georgia contest much credit for showcasing our chocolates.”
Finalists in the 2014 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest will be invited to participate in the Governor’s Agricultural Awareness Day in March as well as expositions at the Buford Highway Farmers Market, Georgia National Fair and the Serenbe May Day Festival. They also will be given use of Flavor Georgia logos for use on labels as well as free silver level membership in the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown Program.
Registration is now open and will run through Feb. 7. Finalists will be invited to take part in a judging and public tasting March 17-18 in Atlanta.
Contestants can submit products that are commercially available or are in the prototype stage. There is no limit on the number of products an individual can submit. Product categories include barbecue sauces, beverages, jams and jellies, sauces and condiments, confections, meat and seafood products, dairy products, snack foods and miscellaneous products.
A panel of judges—made up of food marketing experts, grocery buyers, chefs and Georgia agricultural experts—will judge each product based on flavor, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal, potential market volume and use of locally sourced products.
For more information or to register, see www.flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu or call 706-583-0347. The cost per entry is $50 through the competition website or $75 per product by mail.