The N.C. Specialty Foods Association announced the winners of its 2021 product competition on Tuesday.
Featuring 147 entries across nine different categories, this year’s contest was held in line with the association’s goals of supporting and promoting food and drink made in North Carolina.
Sherry Barefoot, a marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said she worked extensively with the department's board of directors to prepare the event.
“The goal here for the (N.C. Specialty Foods Association) and the Department of Agriculture is helping small businesses heighten awareness to their products, their brand and hopefully generate sales and recognition for them,” Barefoot said.
She said the process for selecting the winners was quite extensive.
“Each entry is judged on a 10-point scale,” Barefoot said. “There are five different areas that they are judged on: appearance, aroma, taste, texture and aftertaste.”
To determine the products’ scores, Barefoot said, a blind tasting comes first, followed by a discussion. Then, the judges deliver the scores.
But the competition’s judges do more than simply decide the winner.
“The judges consist mainly of food writers, photographers, chefs, restaurant owners, specialty food store owners, reporters and journalists,” Barefoot said. “We tried to select judges that we would consider as influencers or somebody that might be interested in helping promote or write about the competition.”