Hospitality Business Magazine

‘Free From’ category highly contested at 7th ONZFP awards

More than 290 locally harvested, grown and made food and drink products were assessed late February with 206 Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals awarded in the seventh Outstanding New Zealand Food Producers Awards.

Head Judge Lauraine Jacobs said, “Each year there is a different trend that becomes obvious as we work diligently to assess the range of entries. This year judges were excited to see how many producers have taken up the health messages and emphasised this through their food production.”

‘Free From’ is food made and marketed to meet the requirements of a specific diet such as; gluten-free, carb-free, keto, vegan or meat-free; for the first time this year these products were judged in their own category. Free-From was highly contested with 54 products being assessed and 40 medals awarded in this category.

Specialist sustainability judges Fiona Stephenson and Emily King said, “Most entrants in this category scored well on sustainability. There were a few stand-out entrants, including cereal products and dairy-free alternative options. It’s a notably large category compared to others, which perhaps reflects changing consumer preferences in recent years.”

Outstanding Gold Medal Winners in the Free-From category in 2023 include; Island Gelato, Chocolate & Forest Berry Italian Ice Cream Cake; Little ‘Lato, Mango Lassi; Lucy’s Gluten Free, The Seedy One; Mind Your Temper, Speculoos Bonbon; Mylk Made, Almond Barista Mylk Base; Raglan Food Co, Organic Passionfruit Coconut Yoghurt, Well & Truly Artisan Pantry, Raspberry Road Gourmet Granola and Wise Boys, Hemp and Mushroom Burger Patties to name a few.

Lauraine Jacobs led a talented team of more than 25 experienced food judges supported by a team of stewards who assessed entries over two days at Auckland’s Homeland restaurant.

She noted; “This year our judging took place immediately following Cyclone Gabrielle, which wreaked havoc for many of our farmers and food producers, and meant some outstanding foods could not be included. The team of expert and well-qualified judges want to extend sympathy and encouragement to all those affected. We hope to see you all revive, recover and return to continue to feed our nation with your excellent food products. I can assure you that you were missed.”

Of the 206 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards medals in 2023, 98 are Gold; 60 are Silver and a further 48 are Bronze.

Eighty-five per cent of the marks for each entry are awarded by the judges for the product, specifically; visual appearance, aroma, flavour, consistency and quality. A further 10% is made for sustainability, with two specialist judges reviewing each entry for environment and social business practice. The final 5% is given for ‘wow’ and brand story, the excitement factor and the point of difference for each product.

All Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards Gold Medal winners are in contention for Category Champions and Special Awards which will be announced at the Champions Party 2023 on Tuesday 18 April at the Glasshouse in Morningside, Auckland. 

The complete list of 2023 medal winners is on the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards website.