NZFA unveils the ’crème de le crème’ for 2017

Nick Hammond, chief operating officer of Spring Sheep Milk Co, pictured here with Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas, said winning the Massey University Supreme Award is recognition of the team's passion for their work.

The winners of the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards, powered by Massey University, were unveiled last night at a gala dinner among 380 guests at Sky City.

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the awards which celebrate creative innovations from New Zealand’s artisanal and large-scale food and beverage manufacturers, with 22 products from 22 different companies taking out the top spots.

Spring Sheep Milk Co. took out the coveted and highest honour of the Massey University Supreme Award with its Vanilla Flavoured Probiotic Sheep Milk Powder, which also won them the NZTE Export Innovation Award.

Nick Hammond, chief operating officer of Spring Sheep Milk Co, shared what winning the Massey University Supreme Award meant to them and their dedicated team.

“Receiving the Supreme Award is massive for us, we’re a really small company trying to do really big things,” Mr Hammond said.

“At Spring Sheep Milk Co, we’re trying to break new ground in product innovation and enter new markets, so I feel that this award is a real recognition of our whole team, and their passion for their work.”

Other companies recognised for their outstanding innovation and products, include Poppy and Olive in the BITE Gourmet Award category with its delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Gathered Game taking out the Artisan Award for its Premium Wild Venison Salami and Deer Sticks, and Proper Crisps in the Dry Award category with its Kumara Chipotle and Garlic.

The revamped Food Safety Culture and Primary Sector Products Awards, sponsored by the Ministry for Primary Industries, were taken out by The Pure Food Co. and T&G Global Ltd. respectively. The James & Wells Business Innovation Award was presented to Original Foods Baking Co.

The main course of parmesan and parsley Hawke's Bay lamb, polenta cake, butter bean puree, new season asparagus and Villa Maria merlot jus.

Finalists continue to set the bar high

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas, said that the interest in the New Zealand Food Awards was exceptional, and the level of innovation from New Zealanders is something to be proud of.

“The finalists have set the bar high for this auspicious occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Food Awards. The entrants should be exceptionally proud of themselves and their world-class products,” Professor Thomas stated.

“As a small country, the level of innovation that we provide in terms of the food and beverage sector is incredible. We are committed to encouraging local business to continue to grow, experiment and create fantastic products, while recognising them for their efforts.”

For the third year in a row, the judging panel included food writer and cookbook author Nici Wickes, award-winning chef Geoff Scott and renowned chef and food writer Ray McVinnie, who sampled and sipped New Zealand’s finest food and beverages.

Mr Scott said the diversity in products this year was something to get excited about.

“We thought judging last year was hard, but the range of products presented to us this year has really made it difficult! We love to see the creativity and innovation in products from all corners of New Zealand.”

“What I love is we are starting to see some of our uniquely New Zealand ingredients coming through. Kumara being used in innovative ways, horopito, locally grown saffron, that sort of thing which I think is worth celebrating,” Ms Wickes said.

Joining the New Zealand Food Awards 2017 judging panel this year is the founder of Moa Brewing Company, Josh Scott, who is New Zealand’s first certified Cicerone (beer expert). Mr Scott was brought on board to judge the Countdown Alcoholic Beverage Category.

Mr Scott says craft beer’s popularity is going through the roof and he feels privileged to be a part of the judging panel. “While we’ve had a challenging season in terms of hop production, the craft beer culture is thriving in New Zealand,” he says. “I’d like us to reach a point where our reputation for producing top-notch real beers, is up there with our reputation for world-class wines.”

At the end of the night, there could only be one winner in the Alcoholic Beverage Category. The finalists included 12 entries from six different companies, and it was Epic Brewing Company’s Epic Hop Zombie IPA beer that took home the Countdown Alcoholic Beverage award.

Winning products are eligible to use the New Zealand Food Awards Quality Mark highlighting the superiority of the products to both consumers and industry, and helping to boost sales and distribution domestically and internationally.

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Sales manager Mike Sproule and managing director Jane Mayell from Original Foods Baking Co, with Dr John Mansell from James & Wells. The company won the James & Wells Business Innovation Award.

New Zealand Food Awards 2017 Winners:

Artisan Food Producer Award in association with Supermarket News and Restaurant & Café Magazine - 1st Place

Gathered Game - Premium Wild Venison Salami and Wild Venison Deer Sticks

Artisan 2nd place

Carrello del Gelato - Feijoa Sorbet

Artisan 3rd place

Hawke's Bay Brewing Company - Old Fashioned Ginger Beer, Spcied Ginger Beer, Ginger Fusion and Red Sangria

Artisan Highly Commended

Abel New Zealand Ltd - Abel Methode Cider

Bakeworks Ltd - Home St Sprouted Good Seed Bread

Dr Feelgood Ltd - Handmade Ice Pops Range

Maungatapere Berries Ltd - Kwanza Fresh Raspberries

Queen Anne Indulgence Ltd - Dark Chocolate, Boysenberry Jelly Marshmallow Bar

The Caker Ltd - Coconut Raspberry Cake Mix

Artisan Craft Beer Award in association with Supermarket News and Countdown

The Croucher Brewing Company - Croucher Lowrider

BITE Gourmet Award

Poppy & Olive Ltd - Chocolate Hazelnut Butter

Countdown Alcoholic Beverages Award

Epic Brewing Company - Epic Hop Zombie IIPA

Non-Alcoholic Beverages Award in association with Villa Maria

Barker's of Geraldine - Squeezed Fruit Botanicals Syrup: Squeezed Lemons with Lime, Cucumber and Mint

Chilled/Short Shelf Life Award in association with Eagle Consumables

Cabernet Foods Ltd - Everton Dry Aged Beef

Dry Award in association with Palmerston North City Council

Proper Crisps - Kumara Chipotle and Garlic

Frozen Award in association with FoodHQ

Leader Products - Jalapeño Cheese Bites

James & Wells Business Innovation Award

Original Foods Baking Co

The FoodBowl Novel Food or Beverage Award

Otago Locusts - Locusts

Massey University Health and Wellness Award

Springbrook Foods - No Nut Butter - Crunchy

MPI Food Safety Culture Award

The Pure Food Co

MPI Primary Sector Products Award

T&G Global Ltd - Lotatoes Potatoes

NZTE Export Innovation Award

Spring Sheep Milk Co

Massey University Supreme Award

Spring Sheep Milk Co

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