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March 26, 2014

~Entrepreneurs from Virginia Beach and Virginia’s Northern Neck win Best New Product competition~
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

Both traditional Virginia favorites and innovative new products are on display at the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo taking place today, March 26, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), this popular tradeshow connects buyers representing grocery stores, restaurants and gift shops directly with Virginia specialty food and beverage products. The Expo takes place once every two years to promote Virginia products and advance economic development. This business-to-business tradeshow is not open to the public.

Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore announced the Best New Product Awards during a ceremony at 11 a.m. This year there were 63 entries for awards in three categories – Best New Food, Best New Beverage and Best Product Overall. The following Virginia companies took home the coveted honors:

The Best New Product Overall award went to Ashburn Sauce Company, Inc. of Virginia Beach, Va. for their “Crabby Mary” Bloody Mary Mix.

The Best New Food award went to The Letner Company, LLC of Virginia Beach, Va. for their Molina Salsa – Mild Flavor.

Blue Crab Bay Co. of Melfa, Va. took home the Best New Beverage honor for their Jalapeno Infused Margarita Mixer.

A panel of judges that included food writers, reporters and a chef evaluated the Best New Product competition entries on originality, taste and aroma, creative packaging, visual appeal and presentation. Judges were Lisa Antonelli Bacon, Virginia Living; Lorraine Eaton, The Virginian-Pilot; Cathy Jett, The Free-Lance Star; Sean Murphy, Executive Chef at The Savory Grain; and Denise Purcell, Specialty Food Magazine.

This was a record year for the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo with more than 140 exhibitors, approximately 1,600 buyers and 63 Best New Product Awards entries. Past Expos resulted in estimated one-day sale orders of $1 million, as well as invaluable connections between buyers and exhibitors.

At the end of the day, Expo exhibitors have an opportunity to donate all leftover samples to The Healing Place of Richmond, part of Caritas, a nonprofit organization established to provide shelter for the homeless and a long-term residential recovery program for those who are chemically dependent.

Participants in this year’s Virginia Food and Beverage Expo are using the social media hashtag #VAExpo. Follow VDACS on Twitter and Facebook for show-related updates.

The next Virginia Food and Beverage Expo is scheduled for 2016. Learn more at

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on

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