These are the 11 winning flavors of Georgia

Governor Nathan Deal (far left) congratulates Harry and Jaime Foster and Travis Cole, of Georgia Grinders for winning the grand prize at the Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. Also pictured is (second from right) Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and (right) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue. Photo: Merritt Melancon.

Today, a handful of Georgia food producers, including Chamblee-based Georgia Grinders Premium Nut Butters, savored sweet success when they were named winners of the 2017 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest, held at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.

The annual contest showcases tasty, innovative, market-ready prototypes or commercially available food products made by Georgia-based businesses.

Georgia Grinders Premium Nut Butters walked away with this year’s grand prize for its pecan butter. The people’s choice winner was Carroll’s Vidalia Onion and Cheese Smoked Sausage. The company is located in Ashburn, Ga.

Winners were also selected in 11 food categories. These include: barbecue sauces, beverages, condiments and salsas, confections, dairy and related products, honey and related products, jams and jellies, meats and seafood, sauces and seasonings, snacks, and a miscellaneous category for mixes, single-ingredient products and products not represented by another category.

The winners, by category, were:

• Barbecue Sauces: Wicked Que Georgia Vinegar Sauce, Neptune Industries Inc.,
Watkinsville
• Beverages: Worryfree Tea, Biron Herbal Teas, Macon
• Condiments and Sauces: Midland Ghost White Pepper Sauce, 4Saucerers,
Columbus
• Confections: Chocolate Covered Fried Peanut Cluster, West Foods Inc., Edison
• Dairy or Related Products: Revolution Gelato Chocolate Fantasy, Revolution
Gelato LLC, Atlanta
• Honey and Related: Honey Pecan Crunch, Hahira Honey House, Stockton
• Jams and Jellies: Satsuma Orange Pepper Marmalade, Fairywood Thicket
Farm, Fairburn
• Meat and Seafood: Carroll’s Vidalia Onion and Cheese Smoked Sausage,
Carroll’s Sausage & Meats Inc., Ashburn
• Miscellaneous: Georgia Grinders Pecan Butter, Georgia Grinders Premium Nut
Butters, Chamblee
• Sauces and Seasonings: Campfire Salt, Beautiful Briny Sea, Atlanta
• Snack Foods: Toasted Sriracha Pecans, Goodson Pecans LLC, Leesburg

Winners were selected from among three finalists in each of the 11 categories. Finalists, determined earlier this year, were required to provide product samples and give a presentation to a judging panel consisting of grocery buyers and food industry professionals. Entries were judged on technical aspects such as flavor, texture, and ingredient profile. Judges also considered each product’s potential market volume, consumer appeal and how well the product represents Georgia.

“We had 117 products submitted this year and some of the toughest competition
we’ve seen in the contest’s 11 year history,” said Sharon P. Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator. She called the 33 products that made the finalist cut “truly the best of the best.”

Category winners receive an award and membership in the state Department of
Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program. All winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2016 Flavor of Georgia logo.

As the grand prize winner, Georgia Grinders also receives exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Convention and consultation sessions with the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center on product or process design, ingredient functionality, sensory testing and/or shelf-life determination.

Flavor of Georgia is sponsored by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in partnership with Gourmet Foods International, Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, the Office of the Governor, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

The contest has led to increased exposure, publicity, business contacts and sales for finalists. Many participants have landed shelf space in regional and national grocery chains such as Whole Foods, Ingles, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Kroger and Harvey’s. More than 1,100 Georgia-made food products have been submitted since the contest’s inception in 2007.

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