Plant-based mince, seaweed salt, and Sauvignon Blanc Gin are just a few of new Kiwi products announced as finalists in the 2021 New Zealand Food Awards powered by Massey University.

A team of judges whittled down the best of the best from 170 entries, selecting 66 finalists from 45 companies ­from across the length and breadth of the country.

Head Judge Kay McMath says judges focused on finding innovative, high quality and sustainable products.

“The team of judges are happy to present an exciting array of finalists for this year’s New Zealand Food Awards. All of these finalists had focused on meeting consumer demands, be that for nutrition, convenience, variety or excellence using technology, creativity and sound processes. Congratulations to all these finalists on a superb achievement.”

Finalists include several winners from previous years, including 2017 Massey University Supreme Award winner Spring Sheep Milk Company and 2018 Food Safety Culture award winner, Pic’s Peanut Butter. There is also a line-up of new brands and products such as Grater Good’s Plant Pastrami, Zaroa NZ’s Pohutukawa Smoked Venison Savernacchio, and Blackfoot Pāua Saucisson from NewFish.

FoodHQ CEO and New Zealand Food Awards Technical Judge, Abby Thompson, says she looks forward to judging every year, “because it gives a snapshot of some of the New Zealand food sectors’ most interesting and innovative products.

“It was no surprise there were significantly more plant-based products this year, reflecting the increased focus on this trend both in New Zealand and around the world.”

Food Critic Judge and renowned chef of Homeland NZ, Peter Gordon joined the judging panel this year.

 “As a first time judge, I was excited to be a part of a broad panel of expertise. The judging is about so much more than one person’s point of view and I learned a lot from the experience.

“I was really encouraged to see so much innovation in the health and wellbeing space – products that cater for different dietary requirements. Consumers can be excited to see a broad spectrum of finalists, there’s some really exciting surprises in there.”

People’s Choice Award

Kiwis are being asked to take part in the awards’ People’s Choice campaign. After the success of the special Food Hero Awards last year, 2021 has seen the introduction of a new Food Hero award, sponsored by Palmerston North City Council.

This is awarded to people or organisations that continuously support the New Zealand food and beverage supply chain in some way. The judges have selected the 2021 finalists, and the winner will be determined by the public.

New Zealanders can vote for the finalist they believe deserves to win here from 18 – 31 August.

The 12 category winners and overall Massey University Supreme Award winner will be announced, at a gala dinner on October 14 with guests enjoying a three-course meal, drinks and entertainment. The awards are being held in Palmerston North – a first for the event. Tickets are on sale here now.

Today, the New Zealand Food Awards also announce the finalists for the Product Lifetime Achievement Award – sponsored by AsureQuality. The award, which was introduced in 2019, celebrates Kiwi products that have withstood the test of time.

The 2021 finalists are: Wattie’s ‘Tomato Sauce’, Whittaker’s ‘Peanut Slab’ and Vogel’s ‘Original Mixed Grain Bread’.

The New Zealand Food Awards have celebrated New Zealand’s food and beverage manufacturers, focusing on innovation, sustainability and excellence, since 1987.

Powered by Massey University, the awards are open to small and large food and beverage manufacturers, primary food producers, food service providers and ingredient supply companies.

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