NEW YORK — Smoked maple sriracha sauce, lemon saffron marmalade and masala chai ice cream are among dozens of food and beverage products recognized as the year’s top innovations in the $148.7 billion specialty food industry.
Highlighted at the Summer Fancy Food Show, held June 23-25 in New York, the Specialty Food Association’s sofi Award winners were selected from nearly 2,000 entries across 39 product categories, including best chocolate, cheese and savory snack. Finalists were chosen by a national panel of chefs, culinary instructors, recipe developers and specialty food buyers in a blind tasting.
“For 47 years, the sofi Awards have identified the best of the best within the specialty food industry,” said Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Association. “This year, we’re incredibly proud to recognize so many fantastic products across so much of our membership. Our 2019 winners are passionate industry leaders creating exceptional, innovative specialty foods. They’re what’s driving excitement among retailers, food service, and consumers, and fueling our industry’s growth.”
Pacific Pickle Works, Santa Barbara, Calif., received three awards in this year's competition. Fenn Shui, rated the top pickle product, features organic sliced fennel in a tart and spicy brine. The best new product in that category, Pickles Under the Ginfluence, contains pickle chips brined in a spicy, savory gin. In the cold beverage category, Pacific Pickle Works won a silver award for its bloody mary elixir.
“There are so many considerations beyond great flavor that go into creating a viable packaged product for today’s market,” said Bradley Bennett, founder of Pacific Pickle Works. “The cost of crafting consistently excellent pickles certainly starts with our beautiful local produce… but our packaging, certifications, marketing efforts, in-store promotions… it’s staggering how much of a food entrepreneur’s day is pulled in every direction but the food. The sofi is such a meaningful award because it’s a reminder for our whole team that we’ve held fast to our roots, and continue making tasty, all-natural food a priority.”