Amanda Wilbanks, owner of Gainesville’s Southern Baked Pie Co. (formerly known as Buttermilk Pie Co.), baked her way to the grand prize with her caramel pecan pie in the University of Georgia’s 2016 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest this week. The annual contest, conducted by the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, is a chance for food businesses to showcase their new products.
A team of food industry experts and grocery buyers chose Wilbanks’ caramel pecan pie as the best of 33 finalists. They rated the products on qualities, including innovation, use of Georgia theme, market potential and flavor.
In addition to the grand prize, Wilbanks won first place in the confections category.
Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Sam Pardue congratulated the category and grand prize winners as part of Georgia Agriculture Awareness Day on March 15 at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta.
“We had over 100 products submitted this year and some of the toughest competition we’ve seen in the contest’s 10-year history,” said Sharon P. Kane, Flavor of Georgia contest coordinator. “The 33 products represented are truly the best of the best.”
The awards are listed below by prize name, company name, product name, company representatives and town.
Grand prize winner and confections: Southern Baked Pie Co., Caramel Pecan Pie, Amanda Wilbanks, Gainesville
People’s Choice Award: Carroll’s Sausage and Meats, Medium Smoke Link Sausage, Johnny Walker, Ashburn
Barbecue sauces: Joe Kem’s BBQ, Joe Kem’s Barbecue Sauce, Joe Kem Lacey, Moultrie
Beverages: Muscadine Products Corp., Paulk’s Pride 100% White Muscadine Juice, Erin Boettger, Wray
Dairy products: Revolution Gelato, Nekkid Espresso Dairy-Free Gelato, Jared Olkin, Atlanta
Honey: Bruce’s Nut-N-Honey Farm/The Honey Shack, Papa’s Private Selection Honey 100% Pure, Raw, Unfiltered, Ben Bruce, Homerville
Jams and jellies: Wisham Jellies, Wild Mayhaw Pepper Jelly, Eric Wisham, Tifton
Marinades, sauces and rubs: The Salt Table, Leek, Chive and Onion Dip and Seasoning Blend, David and Carol Legasse, Savannah
Meat and seafood: Hunter Cattle Co., Hot Georgia Night Sausage, Del Ferguson, Brooklet
Miscellaneous: Beautiful Briny Sea, Pocketful of Starlight Vanilla Sugar, Atlanta
Salsas, chutneys and condiments: Abby J’s Gourmet, Abby J’s Blackhawk Field to Fork Sweet Fire Pickles, Abby Jackson, Clarkesville
Snack foods: Marsh Cabin Bakery, Kim’s Cheese Straws—Pecan Cheddar, Kim Kaiser, Statesboro
Events like the 2016 Flavor of Georgia competition help entrepreneurs spread the word about their products. Many have landed spots in regional and national grocery chains like Whole Foods, Ingles, Fresh Market, Earth Fare, Kroger and Harvey’s.
Category winners received an award and membership in the state Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program, statewide notoriety and bragging rights. All winners and finalists earn the right to have their products stamped with the 2016 Flavor of Georgia logo and gain exposure to grocery buyers and food industry professionals who judge the final round of the contest.
The Flavor of Georgia food product contest is sponsored by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development in partnership with the Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, the Office of the Governor, Walton EMC, the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.