Honey Specialties and Braswell's took home 2023 Flavor of Georgia wins in their respective categories on Tuesday, March 28, in Athens.
Honey won Best in Baked Goods for their Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake, and Braswell's won Best in Condiments, Sauces, and Seasonings for their Vidalia Onion Steak Sauce. The two companies were part of the slate of 36 Flavor of Georgia finalists, narrowed down from 124 entries during the first round of judging on March 10. Judges for the contest include food brokers, grocery buyers and other food experts. Entries are evaluated by category based on their Georgia theme, commercial appeal, taste, innovation and market potential.
Flavor of Georgia, a University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) Signature Event organized by the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST), has helped launch small, startup food companies while garnering recognition in new markets for established brands since 2007. The contest is supported by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Grown.
“The Department of Food Science and Technology would like to congratulate the winners of the Flavor of Georgia 2023 and the volunteers, faculty and staff for making this event a success,” said Manpreet Singh, FST department head and professor. “It is an honor to have the opportunity to connect with the contestants and winners during the competition and to work with them to support our state’s food industry.”
Each entry in the Flavor of Georgia contest is featured in the print and digital product directory, including a professional photograph and brief overview, which is seen by leading food industry buyers and media outlets. The 36 finalists received a personalized press release, use of the Flavor of Georgia finalist logo on their label and promotional materials, and the opportunity to present their product to a panel of food industry experts at the final judging event. Finalists also received a one-year Georgia Grown membership, courtesy of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
The grand prize winner was awarded an exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Association annual convention (a $1,500 value) and three consultation sessions from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) on product or process design, ingredient functionality, sensory testing or shelf-life determination (a $1,500 value).
“Starting a food company is challenging enough; navigating the technical and regulatory process adds additional stress to entrepreneurs,” said Jim Gratzek, FoodPIC director. “We are happy to help establish food safety planning, navigate the regulatory process and provide assistance in commercializing these products and more into the Georgia market.”
In his comments at the award ceremony, CAES Dean and Director Nick T. Place shared that Flavor of Georgia is an opportunity not only to showcase all that Georgia has to offer, but also to propel individuals and businesses forward as leaders in food.
“Each product uniquely combines flavors to create something special for consumers. We’re glad to have played a role in bringing knowledge and awareness of these unique products,” Place said. “Our goal is that Flavor of Georgia is an opportunity for competitors to not only see improvements in their products and business plans during the competition itself, but that they would also make connections with other experts here at UGA.”
The 2023 winners
This year’s winners represent all corners of the state and the best of Georgia’s diverse culinary heritage. Winners are listed by company, product name and city within the 12 competition categories.
Baked Goods: Honey Specialties, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake, Millen
Barbecue Sauces: Oconee Creations LLC, Oconee Gold White Gold, Statham
Beverages: HIBO, HIBO Energize Original, Bishop
Condiments, Sauces and Seasonings: Braswell Food Company, Vidalia Onion Steak Sauce, Statesboro
Confections: Brittle Brittle Bakeries LLC, Pecan Brittle, Fort Gaines
Dairy Products: Dulce Gelato, Probiotic Kefir Gelato, Woodstock
Honey and Syrups: Barlow’s Foods, Barlow’s Peach Cobbler Syrup, Atlanta
Jams and Jellies: Georgia Jams LLC, Georgia Scorcher Pepper Spread, Williamson
Meats and Seafood: Jensen Reserve, Biltong Style Bresaola Make Your Own Charcuterie Kit, Loganville
Miscellaneous: Woodpecker Trail Olive Farm, First Press EVOO, Glennville
Pickled Vegetables, Relish and Salsas: Sully’s Salsa, Sully’s Slammin Mild Fresh Salsa, Roswell
Snack Foods: Caja Popcorn, Vadouvan Curry Popcorn
A People’s Choice Award, chosen by event attendees, went to the Savannah Bee Company for their Hot Honey BBQ Sauce.