A note from our Chair of Judges, Simon Wright
Under these circumstances if there are fewer new products launched this year it will not be a total surprise. However, as the industry recovers its vigour we will once again be highlighting the ability of the food and drink industry to innovate so as to meet the needs of its customers.
I have been a judge at the Quality Food Awards for a sizeable proportion of their history and I have been fascinated by what has changed and what has stayed the same. What has changed is how enthusiastic winners are to tell their customer that they have won a Q – it is great to see the awards celebrated in print, on TV and even on a very large banner outside my local supermarket! Categories change – it is hard to believe that vegetarian food was once so unusual that it needed its own Award. We have accommodated the continued success of plant-based food through an expansion of vegan categories (there are still plenty of awards to highlight the high quality of UK meat and fish!).
Packaging design has also become more important, both as a way of catching the attention of increasingly time-poor consumers and as a way of giving them the information they need to make an educated purchasing decision. And of course, the sustainability credentials of both products and packaging materials become more important every year.
There are however two things that don’t change:
· Firstly, our judges remain as knowledgeable, rigorous, enthusiastic and impartial as ever.
· And secondly, only-great tasting products win a Q
Myth: Only new products win
Reality: We have had winning entries that have been on sale for many years (like a pork pie)
Myth: Only complicated products win
Reality: Winning products have included a potato and a pot of Greek yoghurt. Simple things done well.
Myth: Judges favour particular supermarkets
Reality: Our judging panels are fiercely independent and are much more interested in how the products taste than who has entered them
Myth: The more products I enter the more chance I have of winning
Reality: If you enter five similar products in a category you run the risk of splitting your support five ways. Enter your best-tasting product.
Myth: It won’t matter if the packaging is not ready in time
Reality: Judges do their very best to imagine what an unpackaged product might look like when it goes on sale but without a pdf of the design, a list of ingredients and an rsp you are unlikely to do well.
Myth: No-one reads labels
Reality: Our judges do and they are quick to pick up on strange sounding ingredients, unsubstantiated claims or odd-looking nutritional information
Myth: Expensive top-tier products are more likely to win a Q
Reality: Judges look for value-for-money whatever the rsp
Myth: It is better to be safe than sorry and add extra packaging just in case
Realty: Judges are looking for elegant packaging solutions that involve minimal amounts of recyclable materials
Myth: Only big companies can win a Q
Reality: Last year the Product of the Year award was won by a small, family-run ice cream company who demonstrated phenomenal innovation and made a wonderful tasting product (hence our Small Producer category)
Myth: The QFAs are only for own-label manufacturers
Reality: We love receiving entries from innovative brands who have a great product and a strong story. So enter the Qs: be a Hit, not a Myth!