The search for some of New Zealand’s best food producers is well underway. The
Outstanding New Zealand Food Producer Awards, in partnership with leading lifestyle
title NZ Life & Leisure, has been created to acknowledge this country’s best food producers,
in an event that will culminate in the winner being announced in an awards ceremony at the Fresh Factory in Auckland in March 2017.
“We are looking for the food producer who is doing the best job when it comes to celebrating New Zealand produce,” says Fresh founder and Outstanding NZ Food Producer judge Trudi Nelson. “Whether it’s apple or blueberry growing, chutney or jam making, raising sheep or cattle, smoking meat or making sausages, these awards exist to recognise the hard work that goes into making some of New Zealand’s most outstanding products.”

Judging will take place in March 2017, and Trudi will be joined on the panel by some of New Zealand’s leading food writers and chefs, including Kathy Paterson, Nick Honeyman, Lucy Corry, Emily Dowding-Smith and Sam Mannering. The judging panel is led by one of New Zealand’s most iconic food writers, Lauraine Jacobs.

Categories at the Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards include Dairy, Earth, Water and Paddock. Each category will have two winners, one for Best Primary Produce and one for Best Value-Added Produce, from which one overall winner will be selected for NZ Outstanding Food Producer. The NZ Life & Leisure Outstanding NZ Producer of the Year recognises the single producer who, in the opinion of the judges, creates a benchmark product of exceptional quality across all measures – it tastes and looks great, is innovative, has a point of difference, is produced using sustainable methods and has a great story.

“When [organisers] Kathie Bartley and Nicola McConnell asked us to be involved, we jumped at the chance, because that’s what Fresh is all about – celebrating what’s good and innovative in New Zealand’s food and drink industry,” says Trudi. “It’s important for us to celebrate our food industry by awarding people who do things right and who have the sticker on their product will be a true coup for them and will give them great value both here and overseas.”

For the Earth section, which Fresh is sponsoring, the judges will be looking at producers and growers of all shapes and sizes, who grow food in the earth. “It can be anything – fruit, vegies, a favourite nut, grains, flowers, olive oils, salt…anything that represents New Zealand on the earth stage,” says Trudi. And while judging is based on several criteria, sustainability and good practice is key.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s an established producer or a new kid on the block – the producer that I’m looking for will have a true green thumb story,” she says. “I’ll be looking at the histories behind the producers, and how they look after their business, whether it’s growing their produce organically, or how the company looks after their employees. Organic produce won’t be the be-all and end-all, but growing sustainably in a way that looks after the earth will play a part.”

As well as the individual categories, there are also People’s Choice Awards, in which Kiwis are encouraged to vote for their favourites to help us name the country’s Outstanding Specialty Food Store or Supermarket, Outstanding Farmers’ Market, Outstanding Food Region and Outstanding Product or Producer. To vote, click on the link

“The People’s Choice Awards is important because it gives people who love food and want to celebrate Kiwi goodness a chance to vote,” explains Trudi. “If you feel it’s earned recognition, we want to hear from you.”

The most impressive producer will be named NZ Life & Leisure Outstanding NZ Food Producer of the Year, and will receive a feature story in the May 2017 issue of the magazine as well as $5,000 worth of marketing services from Kathie Bartley and Nicola McConnell of Marvellous Marketing. Category winners will also be profiled in NZ Life & Leisure and receive significant publicity.

To be eligible for entry producers must sell their products in New Zealand, they must meet Food Safety New Zealand and Australia (FSNZA) regulations and The Fair Trading Act.

They will be judged in March each year when our country’s primary produce is at its best.
Producers are judged on the quality of their wares regardless of their size (large and boutique food producers can all enter).

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