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Press Releases

March 23, 2016
Expo Showcases Hundreds of Virginia Specialty Foods and Beverages
Entrepreneurs from Charlottesville, Midlothian and Richmond win Best New Product competition
Contact: Sarah Pennington, 804.786.1904

Both traditional Virginia favorites and innovative new products are on display at the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo taking place today, March 23, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Sponsored by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), this popular trade event connects buyers representing grocery stores, restaurants and gift shops directly with Virginia specialty foods and beverages. The Expo takes place once every two years to promote Virginia products and advance economic development.

Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore announced the Best New Product Awards during a ceremony at 11 a.m. This year there were a record 63 entries for awards in three categories—Best New Food, Best New Beverage and Best Product Overall.

The following Virginia companies won this year’s Best New Product competition:

The Best New Product Overall award went to Mother Shrub of Midlothian, Va. for its Drinking Vinegar.

The Best New Food award went to went to Gearharts Fine Chocolates of Charlottesville, Va. for its Virginia Malt Whiskey Truffles.

Texas Beach of Richmond, Va. took home the Best New Beverage honor for its Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix.

A panel of judges that included chefs and food writers evaluated the Best New Product competition entries on originality, taste and aroma, creative packaging, visual appeal and presentation. Judges were Michael Birchenall, FoodService Monthly; Stephanie Breijo, Richmond Magazine; Chef Ed Gross, Virginia’s Executive Mansion; Chef John Maxwell, Virginia Farm Bureau; and Clare Osdene Shapiro, Richmond Times-Dispatch.

This was a record year for the Virginia Food and Beverage Expo with more than 160 exhibitors, approximately 1,200 pre-registered buyers and 63 Best New Product Awards entries. Past Expos resulted in estimated one-day sale orders of close to $1 million, as well as invaluable connections between buyers and exhibitors.

At the end of the event, Expo exhibitors will have an opportunity to donate unused foods and beverages to FeedMore, Central Virginia’s core hunger-relief organization comprised of programs like the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, the Mobile Pantry and Kids Café. Spanning nearly one-third of the state, across 34 counties and cities, FeedMore serves more than 200,000 individuals in the region’s most vulnerable populations.

For show-related updates, follow #VAExpo16 and VDACS on Twitter and Facebook. The next Virginia Food and Beverage Expo is scheduled for 2018, when the agency will mark the 25th anniversary of the event.

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Note to Editors: Photos of the Best New Product winners are available by request to Elaine Lidholm or in a VDACS Flickr Photo Album that will be uploaded by March 25.

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