After inviting the country’s food and beverage sector to submit their new and innovative products to be part of the New Zealand Food Awards, the 2023 finalists are now ready to be revealed and celebrated. Following a robust and thorough judging process, three distinct themes were highlighted by this years’ New Zealand Food Awards finalists – plant-based proteins, functional foods and sustainability.
There were 396 entries from 124 companies this year, resulting in 61 outstanding finalists from across the length and breadth of the motu. This year’s finalists include some big players in the Aotearoa food and beverage industry, such as Anchor, Kāpiti, The Collective, Wattie’s and Farrah’s, as well as plenty of new entrants to the market showcasing innovation at its finest. Previous winners featuring with new products this year include The Pure Food Co, The Wild Fermentary, Beard Brothers and allmite gold.
Head Judge Kay McMath commended the entrants on the extremely high quality of submissions and how they were able to articulate innovation, sustainability and excellence through their product or business.
“The judges really enjoyed hearing the challenges producers faced, how they employed clever technologies to solve these issues and the journey producers have taken from concept to market.”
She noted the increase in entries across the categories, in particular the Primary Sector category.
“It’s exciting to see how companies are adding value to primary produce. They’re shifting and adding value. It’s a vital component of the food and beverage sector.”
“The concept of paddock to plate, organically certified, catch to order, for example, demonstrates real commitment to ensuring New Zealand is producing the freshest, highest quality food in sustainable ways,” Ms McMath says.
It’s been a few years since a live product was a finalist at the New Zealand Food Awards but both Tora Collective’s products, Live Crayfish and Live Blackfoot Pāua (Abalone) have been named finalists in the Primary Sector category. The company’s ‘catch to order’ model ensures sustainable fishing practices are adhered to as mother nature dictates when products can be harvested. It also allows for the raw products to be received in their most pure form. A trait that is quite rare these days!
Storytelling was used to narrate many journeys from concept to product. Hinterland Food, one of New Zealand’s few organically certified mānuka honey producers, have been named a finalist for their product, Organic 20+ UMF Mānuka (known as ‘liquid gold’) in both the Artisan and Novel categories. The commitment demonstrated by Hinterland Food for producing a premium product that is distinctly unique to Aotearoa is carefully and sustainably packaged in glass jars with the precious gift of a ‘whakatauāki’ (Māori proverb) on each jar to connect back to the whenua.
The New Zealand Food Awards have celebrated Aotearoa New Zealand’s food and beverage manufacturers, focusing on innovation, sustainability and excellence, since 1987. Owned and operated by Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University, the awards are open to small and large food and beverage manufacturers, primary food producers, food service providers, and ingredient supply companies.
Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says from food science and product development to nutrition and dietetics, as well as farming and horticulture, Massey’s name is synonymous with Aotearoa New Zealand’s innovative food sector.
“Our ownership of the awards, which have been running for more than three decades, stems from the role the university plays at the forefront of food-related education and research here and around the world. It reflects our commitment to promoting innovation in the food industry and supporting the growth and development of this important sector of New Zealand’s economy.
“I’m once again very impressed with the standard of entries this year. It was great to see a true representation of the industry in this year’s entrants, which included large-scale producers as well as small artisanal creators. To have Massey Food Technology graduates enter products into the awards is a highlight, especially when they are named as a finalist. I’m excited to see which product or business will take out the Massey University Supreme Award at the gala dinner in October.”
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 2023 finalists are: Edmonds ‘Edmonds Baking Powder’, Galaxy ‘Blue Vein Cheese’ and Wattie’s ‘Tomato Sauce’.
The 10 category winners and overall Massey University Supreme Award winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Auckland on 19 October, with guests enjoying a three-course meal, drinks and entertainment. Tickets are on sale here now.
Finalist and winning products earn the New Zealand Food Award’s quality mark to highlight their technical capability, consumer acceptability, regulatory compliance, and food quality and safety to shoppers and industry following one of the most robust judging processes in the industry.