Judging for the 2021 New Zealand Food Awards is underway with some of the industry’s biggest names bringing technical, culinary, scientific, and commercial expertise to the judging panel.

The judging process considers technical capability, consumer acceptability, regulatory compliance, and food quality and safety.

Entries are required to meet their category criteria and baseline scoring for each judging phase to progress. This ensures consumers can trust any brand wearing the New Zealand Food Awards quality mark, know the product is manufactured here in New Zealand and that it represents outstanding food technology, production, manufacturing, and marketing.

Head judge Kay McMath has been part of the awards’ programme for over a decade and says the awards is the “most robust” judging of food and beverage products she has been involved with.

“In no other competition which I have headed does each product get reviewed by such a wide range of disciplines – from food technologists to packaging experts, to food regulators and nutritionists. Each is able to provide expert feedback on a product’s performance in their specialist area,” she says.

“This year, the judging has three themes – innovation, sustainability, and excellence – and every judge will assess the products from this criteria as it applies to their discipline. The quality mark that is awarded to top-performing products is a real assurance that the product is the very best in its category.”

Renowned chef Peter Gordon ONZM has also joined the Food Awards’ whānau along with registered nutritionist Danijela Unkovich of Nourish & Tempt.

Alongside the panel of expert judges, this year will be four “consumer judges” – people who represent Kiwi households, eating habits, and various demographics.

Finalists will be announced 18 August and the winners will be announced 14 October at the gala dinner in Palmerston North.

2021 Categories

Product Awards

Beverage – Sponsored by the Food Innovation Network

Artisan – Sponsored by Cuisine

Chilled  – Sponsored by FoodHQ

Below Zero

Pantry – Sponsored by Countdown

Primary Sector – Sponsored by New Zealand Food Safety

Health and Wellbeing – Sponsored by Countdown

Novel – Sponsored by KiwiSo

Product Lifetime Achievement Award – Sponsored by AsureQuality

Business Awards

Business Innovation

Food Safety Culture – Sponsored by New Zealand Food Safety

Community Awards

Food Hero – Sponsored by Palmerston North City Council

Key dates:

18 August – Finalists announced and tickets to the gala dinner go on sale

18-31 August – People’s Choice voting opens

14 October – Gala dinner and winners announced, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North, 7pm-11pm