Retailers are watching on closely to see which locally produced food and drink products may be the next additions to their shelves, as the best of the region’s produce is celebrated in the 2014 Taste Awards.
Entries for the awards, run by The Yorkshire Post and deliciouslyorkshire in association with Asda, close tomorrow at 5pm, and the judges are keen to impress the weight that winning carries with food buyers.
One of the 11 judges, Valerie Aston, lead buyer for independent supermarket chain Proudfoot Food Stores in North Yorkshire, said there could be opportunities for producers who enter to work with Proudfoot if they impress.
“There are products that don’t cross our door that we find out about at these awards, whether it’s when I’m tasting or on the awards night and I come away and contact Deliciouslyorkshire for details where I think it is going to work for us in store.
“It’s a great stepping stone for small producers if they have the right distribution network in place.”
Vanessa Delicatessen in Beverley has entered a number of awards categories. The business only opened in March 2013 but is attracting a growing number of customers to its cafe and deli stocked with local food and drink.
Samantha Hodges, the outlet’s deli manager, said: “As much as we try to keep our finger on the pulse as to what new food and drink products are coming out, it is great for us to see what is nominated for these awards.
“Chances are we will click on their websites to find out more about them and while we might not place an order straight away, we know it’s there for when the timing is right.”
Husband and wife team Stuart and Kathryn Franklin are hoping to prosper in the awards. They have entered their new venture Proper Nutty Peanut Butter, a business they only set up in Dewsbury at the end of June but which already sees them supply their own peanut butter supplied to 30 retail outlets across Yorkshire and as far afield as Brighton.
Mr Franklin said: “Ultimately we want to get our name more widely known and it would be nice to get local recognition for what we are doing to give us a real boost.”
Eleven judges will take three days to blind taste more than 200 products before a shortlist for each of the 20 award categories is announced in September. The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the Pavilions of Harrogate on October 15.
Judge, Sue Nelson, co-founder of Yorkshire Food Finder, says winners can go on to bigger things: “The Taste Awards are a fantastic opportunity for smaller independent businesses to make an even bigger name for themselves, and provide an excellent platform for their products to be noticed by bigger retailers.”
The awards are a chance to turn the spotlight on Yorkshire’s impressive contribution to the food and drink industry.
More than 1,100 food and drink producers in the region employ around 55,000 people and have a combined turnover in excess of £8 billion.
The Yorkshire Post’s associate feature editor Catherine Scott, another on the judging panel, said: “We are so lucky here in Yorkshire that we have such a diverse range of producers offering some the finest produce available. I’m really looking forward to judging again this year and tasting some of the delicious products Yorkshire has to offer.”
BBC Radio 2 food journalist Nigel Barden is also on the panel. He told The Yorkshire Post: “Yorkshire is on a culinary roll at the moment and it was marvellous to see so many food and drink emphoriums get behind the Tour de France. Never have so many breweries extolled the health-imbuing qualities of Yorkshire ale for elite and aspiring cyclists!
“The dining scene in God’s Own is nicely varied, spear-headed by Michelin starred restaurants like The Box Tree, Yorke Arms and The Old Vicarage and gastro-pubs such as the Black Swan and The Pipe & Glass, which reflect the bedrock of Yorkshire pub culture, crucial for tourists and appreciative White Rose habitees.
“The Taste Awards are an excellent platform for food and drink producers to show off their wares. All entries are blind tasted and the judges assembled provide some of Britain’s finest palates, all of whom have connections to the county. The spectrum of entries also represents the ethnically diverse range of foods on offer, with Yorkshire ingredients being the basis for most of them.
“Only the elite entries gain the accolades, so they need to be of the finest quality and the DY stickers are compelling indicators to consumers that they’ve selected something special. It’s also an excellent marketing tool for the producers, to be used within the county, Britain and overseas.
“I look for outstanding taste in the winners combined with enticing packaging that proudly boasts of it’s Yorkshire provenance. This year’s harvest has been a bumper one, so I’m very excited about the quality of fresh fruit and vegetables.”
For full details on how to enter the 2014 Taste Awards before tomorrow’s 5pm deadline, visit www.deliciouslyorkshire.co.uk/awards
Best Bakery Product in association with Needlers
Best Fresh Produce
Best Fresh Meat in association with Verner Wheelock Associates
Best Prepared Meat in association with Celsius Projects
Best Yorkshire Pork Pie in association with Yorkshire Bank
Best Fish and Seafood in association with Reed Boardall
Best Ready to Eat Product
Best Cheese in association with Kirklees College
Best Ice Cream
Best Drink (with individual awards for Best Beer, Best Spirit and Best Beverage)
Best Savoury Condiment
Best Sweet Preserve
Taste Champion Categories
Best New Business in association with Proudfoots Supermarkets
Best Yorkshire Breakfast
Best use of local produce on a menu
Best Yorkshire Afternoon Tea
Best Independent Retailer
Local Food Hero in association with The York and North Yorkshire LEP