NEWBORN, Ga. — A Newborn farm's goat cheese product was among 32 finalists that will compete in the annual Flavor of Georgia food product contest April 21.
Rock House Creamery and its tomato, basil and garlic fresh chevre was a finalist in the Dairy and Related Products category of the competition hosted by the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Narrowed from a field of 148 products, the finalists will compete at The Classic Center in Athens with an award ceremony to follow. Winners will be named in each product category, the overall grand prize and a people’s choice award, which will be chosen by event attendees.
The Newborn creamery's cheese product will compete against pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 Days Per Year chocolate whole milk from Hart Dairy of Alpharetta; and gourmet black truffle pimento cheese from Suga’s Enterprises LLC of Powder Springs.
A posting on its Facebook page said Rock House was "honored" to be a finalist.
"Thank you for your consideration, as we hope to continue to provide delicious, wholesome foods to our communities," creamery owners wrote on their Facebook page.
Rock House Creamery has operated since 2016 on the former Johnston Family Farm, which had operated as a dairy since 1940.
Another Newton County-area finalist was Deju LLC of Conyers, which was competing in the Honey and Related Products category with its Grandma’s Honey Stuff.
Judges for the final round of the contest will include food brokers, grocery buyers and other food product experts. Entries are evaluated by category based on their Georgia theme, commercial appeal, taste, innovation and market potential.
Contestants will provide samples to judges while pitching their products in a three-minute presentation, a news release stated.
The contest is the state’s proving ground for small, start-up food companies as well as established brands looking for recognition or new markets, the release stated.
Manpreet Singh, head of the UGA Food Science and Technology Department (FST), said the Flavor of Georgia competition was an opportunity for his department to make an impact with companies and individuals who are developing new products and businesses.
He said ultimately "these new products and businesses benefit not only those who are directly involved in them but also those who buy the products they sell."
“With a wealth of resources at their disposal through FST on the Athens and Griffin campuses, Flavor of Georgia competitors are able to develop flavorful, marketable and profitable products for consumers.”
The finalists Georgia-based businesses will compete in 10 categories in addition to Dairy and Related Products. They include Barbecue Sauces, Beverages, Condiments and Salsas, Confections, Honey and Related Products, Jams & Jellies, Meats and Seafood, Miscellaneous, Sauces and Seasonings, and Snack Foods.
Competitors also come from Winder, Dawson, Milton, Waynesboro, Bishop, Marietta, Lithonia, Newnan, Atlanta, Savannah, Williamson, Greensboro, Pooler, Millen, Valdosta, Bluffton, Albany, Clarkesville, Kennesaw, Twin City and Evans.
Past finalists report that participation in the contest boosts their annual sales by about 20% on average, the release stated. Taking into account multiplier effects, it is estimated that increased sales from participating in Flavor of Georgia contribute to more than $5.6 million in annual revenue for the Georgia economy, according to a follow-up survey of previous finalists and winners from 2015-19.
“Not only were these products sold in Georgia but sales have also been reported in all 49 other states,” said Sharon Kane, study author and economist with the CAES Center of Agribusiness and Economic Development. “Significant sales were reported throughout the Southeast in Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and South Carolina.”
For more information, visit flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu.