Three NZ salmon products have been judged by international taste awards experts as being exceptional with a further three called remarkable.

Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) entered six products in the International Taste and Quality Institute (iTQi) Superior Taste Awards in Brussels and each was awarded either the maximum three stars or two.

NZKS’s Regal brand achieved two 3-star awards and three 2-stars (details below). The company’s Seasmoke brand gained the third three-star award.

Three stars are awarded for ‘exceptional’ products with 90 per cent and more total marks while ‘remarkable’ products achieve two stars and score between 80 and 90 per cent.

Judges for the April awards are selected from within the 12 most prestigious European culinary and sommeliers associations and all the products are blind tasted solely on their own merit.

NZKS CEO Grant Rosewarne says the awards represent huge endorsement for the two brands in key markets.

“We are delighted to gain prestige endorsement of our products from members of 12 of the most famous European culinary associations.  The awards reflect well not only on our brands but also the pure New Zealand brand we are so closely associated with.

“Only a small number of products tested each year are recognized with the three-star award – in fact, this year only 129 of 902 products entered achieved that status – and three of those were ours. Based on customer and consumer feedback we have always believed that we had an outstanding product in terms of taste and quality.

“This independent evaluation by European culinary experts certainly confirms our beliefs,” Mr Rosewarne says. “And from a personal point of view, it’s pretty amazing and remarkably rewarding to see your brand logo featured next to those of Carlsberg and Coca-Cola, Schweppes and Unilever.”

In a communication notifying NZKS of its success the managing partner of iTQi Christian de Bauw warmly congratulated the company on its “remarkable achievement”.

“Your company and your team should be particularly proud to market products that are so valued for their superior taste,” Mr Bauw said. “Being the first New Zealand food products to achieve three star status is a unique result and (represents) a unique opportunity to differentiate yourself.”

NZKS is awaiting full evaluation reports from the awards organisers complete with comments from the judges. The company has been invited to attend the Superior Taste Award Ceremony in late May in Brussels to collect its certificates and medals. 

The full list of winning NZKS products is:
Seasmoke Cold Smoked Sliced Salmon – 3 Stars
Regal Hot Smoked Salmon – 3 stars
Regal Hot Smoked Mixed Peppers and Spices Salmon – 3 stars
Regal Fresh Cuts Salmon Loins – 2 stars
Regal Salmon Pastrami – 2 stars
Regal Cold Smoked Sliced Salmon – 2 stars

In the Superior Taste Award products are blind tested solely on their own merit (not compared). The focus is on the intensity of gustatory pleasures.  Criteria scored are first impression, appearance, aroma, texture, flavour and retro-olfaction and are commented on by each judge.

NZKS is permitted to use the award labels on its products for three years. Now in their sixth year, the 2010 iTQi Awards attracted 902 product entries from 60 countries. No stars are awarded to products that don’t reach the 70 per cent threshold for one star.

iTQi website: www.itqi.com/en/superior-taste-award/crystal-award.html

About New Zealand King Salmon:
New Zealand King Salmon (NZKS) is New Zealand’s biggest integrated aquaculture producer employing more than 400 skilled workers. Currently the company produces 7,500 metric tonnes of King salmon annually from five sea cage farms in the Marlborough Sounds of New Zealand’s South Island. With 55 per cent of the global market, the company is the world’s biggest farmer and supplier of the King salmon variety earning around NZ$34 million a year in foreign exchange. It accounts for 70 per cent of New Zealand’s salmon production. NZKS has several market advantages including a sustainable, disease free, chemical free, clean growing environment, pure King salmon (Chinook) brood stock, fresh-to-market distribution, vertical integration and supply chain product traceability. King salmon has the highest natural content of healthy Omega-3 oils vital for life and good health and which can help to maintain a healthy heart. It is available nationwide from supermarkets, fish suppliers and good delicatessens. For recipes and serving suggestions visit http://www.regalsalmon.co.nz./ For more information about NZ King Salmon visit www.kingsalmon.co.nz.

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