Every year as Spring rolls around, Atlanta will be reliably inundated with a host of the State’s tastiest and most innovative food products. They come from all over; from the farms of southwest Georgia and the kitchens of the Georgia Coast to the mountains of Northern Georgia. The reason for this delicious gathering is the State’s most prestigious food product competition: Flavor of Georgia.
A project of the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Flavor of Georgia has been bringing together Georgia’s best new food products since 2007, when the grand prize was awarded to Bradley Creek Seafood’s Low Country Pastry. Since then, the contest has expanded to include a number of different categories and prizes. Grand prizes have been awarded to products spanning a wide array of categories, including a beef ribeye from White Oak Pastures in 2008, a honey product from Savannah Bee Company in 2010, ice cream from High Road Craft Ice Cream in 2012, and this year’s winner – a pecan butter from Georgia Grinders Premium Nut Butter in Chamblee. Flavor of Georgia also awards prizes in each specific category, now up to eleven separate distinctions ranging from barbecue sauces to meats and seasonings, snack foods, and even confections.
For the past six years, Flavor of Georgia has been sponsored by the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness. Part of a fluid partnership with UGA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program, the Center of Innovation works closely with its partners in order to provide Georgia food businesses with a wealth of resources in order to help them responsibly grow. Many clients of the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness have gone on to be finalists and even winners in the annual competition (see the full list), including 2017 Snack Food category winners Goodson Pecans, and People’s Choice award winners Carroll’s Sausage.
Flavor of Georgia is an incredible launching pad…
“Flavor of Georgia is an incredible launching pad,” says Sarah Cook, Project Manager at the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness. “many Flavor of Georgia winners and finalists have gone on to land shelf space in some of the biggest regional and national grocery chains in the country.”
For a Flavor of Georgia finalist, participation in the contest not only means recognition from their peers, but almost all see a significant boost in business. After the 2016 contest, nearly a dozen finalists gained new business contracts within the first two weeks after the grand prize was awarded, and 92% of finalists ultimately saw increased business connections from the event. Additionally, all flavor of Georgia finalists are able to use the Flavor of Georgia logo on the food products that were entered into the contest as well as given a free Georgia Grown membership. The combination of the Georgia Grown and Flavor of Georgia logos serve as a promotional beacon that tells buyers the product beneath the packaging is one of the best and freshest Georgia has to offer.
In addition to a promotional bump, Flavor of Georgia finalists receive a wealth of industry professional feedback. This year’s finalists were given access to the resource room, an entire room of industry professionals dedicated to helping Flavor of Georgia companies further their business goals. In the Resource Room, companies were able to connect with various business and state resources including the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s International Trade team. The finalists were also able to meet with The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, where they were introduced to various means of transporting their product efficiently using third parties, as well as some of the finer points of importing and exporting food products.
One thing’s for sure; when you’re walking around Atlanta’s historic freight depot surrounded by endless samples of the best food products in the State, everybody wins.
To learn more about how the Georgia Centers of Innovation can help your business, click here.