2012 PRESS RELEASES
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March 28, 2012
VIRGINIA FOOD AND BEVERAGE EXPO SHOWCASES PRODUCTS FROM 130 VIRGINIA PRODUCERS
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686
Tradition, elegance, ingenuity and response to consumer demand took high honors at the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo March 28 in Richmond. A hickory-smoked bacon, a Bloody Mary mix with a taste of the sea and a cold-brewed coffee in a reusable pouch were the winning entries in the Best New Products competition at the biennial trade show. The Expo, a Virginia-only food industry trade show, was sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). It is the state’s premier trade show for Virginia grown and produced products, and 2012 was a record year with nearly 130 exhibitors, more than 1,200 pre-registered buyers and 53 contest entries.
Winning products in the Best New Products competition are a microcosm of Virginia’s diverse food industry and the winners cited consumer need or demand as the reason for creating the new products. The following took home the coveted awards:
The Best New Food Product award went to S. Wallace Edward and Sons of Surry for their bacon steak, a traditional dry cured, hickory smoked bacon. The bacon is ¼ inch thick and was created to be “the ultimate bacon lover’s dream,” according to the company. “It’s so thick you can throw it on the grill,” an Edwards rep said. The company created the new product in response to demand from consumers and chefs alike for a thicker bacon. The product is available wholesale, via catalog and online at virginiatraditions.com.
Ashburn Sauce Company of Virginia Beach took home the Best New Beverage honor for their Clammy Mary Bloody Mary Mix. Ashburn, too, cited a need in the marketplace as the reason for creating the new product. Consumers kept telling the company they needed a Bloody Mary mix with clam juice already added. Clammy Mary contains 100 percent clam juice from Virginia’s Eastern Shore. It is sold wholesale, retail, on Facebook at Ashburn-Sauce-Company and by word of mouth.
The Best New Product overall award went to the Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting of Exmore for their Marsh Mud cold-brewed coffee. Kristin and Jamie Willis grind their coffee beans and package them inside a filter bag. Consumers put it in a pitcher, fill with water and leave it on the counter overnight to create a concentrate that will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. One pouch takes 12 to 15 hours to steep and creates a gallon concentrate. “It’s a very viscous mix,” Kristin said, “thus the name Marsh Mud.” Besides its versatility and adaptability – you can make hot or iced coffee to individual strength – the company says another advantage is that cold brewing cuts back the acid by at least fifty percent. The company sells wholesale, retail, online and directly from its Facebook page at Eastern-Shore-Coastal-Roasting-Co.
A panel of five judges of food writers, reporters and chefs evaluated the Best New Product competition entries on originality, taste and aroma, creative packaging, visual appeal and presentation. Judges were Lindsey Nair, Roanoke Times; Michael Birchenall, Editor and Publisher of Foodservice Monthly; Clare Schapiro, Richmond Times-Dispatch; Patrick Evans Hylton, Virginia Wine Lovers Magazine and Lisa Bacon, Virginia Living.
“This was my first Expo as VDACS Commissioner,” said Matthew J. Lohr, who presented the awards. “The energy on the show floor as buyers and sellers came together was beyond my expectations. Their excitement about Virginia’s high quality food and beverage products made that vast showroom come alive and confirmed the rising popularity of Virginia products here, across the country and around the world. The Expo gives our producers one day to meet, greet and sell to buyers from Virginia and across the nation. It is one of our priorities at VDACS to support this kind of entrepreneurship by helping our agribusinesses boost their sales and access new markets.”
New this year was the opportunity for vendors to give back to the community. Many of them donated their unused samples to The Healing Place of Richmond, a nonprofit organization established to provide shelter for the homeless and a long term residential recovery program for those who are chemically dependent.
The next Expo will take place in 2014. Learn more at www.vaexpo.com.