(L to R) Dona White, CEO of North Port Events with the WilliamsWarn team and Awards Judge Trina Snow, Manager Buy NZ Made.

The brightest stars in the food industry have been recognised at a biennial bonanza in Auckland. Fine Food New Zealand, the international trade event for the food service, food retail and hospitality industries, has announced the winners of the prized Innovation Awards, sponsored by James & Wells and FMCG Business publishers, Intermedia.

Entrants came from categories covering everything from dairy­free coconut yogurt to a cafe­friendly beer and cider brewed from Manuka honey to a coeliac dining out programme.

Choosing the winners proved difficult, says Dona White, CEO of North Port Events, which runs Fine Food New Zealand. “Due to the high calibre of entrants, our judges had no easy task.”

Now in its fourth edition (the show has run every two years since 2010) New Zealand’s biggest trade event for the influential food industry is enjoying its biggest outing yet. Close to 300 exhibitors, both national and international, are on show for an expected 7000 trade visitors from around the country and abroad.

Fine Food New Zealand covers everything big and small: in the kitchen, front of house and in the food retail environment. It recognises the country’s unique selling position as an innovator in the entire culinary field, says Dona White. “We are seeing products that address the growing sophistication of palates, but many exhibitors are tapping into global food trends and allergen­friendly diets that are not going to disappear.”

The winners of the Fine Food 2016 Innovation Awards are:

Most Innovative Retail Grocery Product

MANUKEE UMF 10+ Manuka Honey Daily Wellness Drink

Regarded as a new drinks category, every bottle of Manukee contains two teaspoons of certified 100% traceable Manuka honey. Manukee targets busy urban professionals and their families who require functional, health­supporting foods and beverages that are convenient to consume on the go.

Most Innovative Artisan Product

Winner – RebelFood NutriBombs

Designed to be one of the world’s highest natural nutritional snacks to be found, NutriBombs have been designed by an athlete and former chef for the sole purpose of boosting human health, not destroying it.

Most Innovative Food Service Product

Winner – Coeliac New Zealand

Dining Out Programme

The Coeliac New Zealand Dining Out Programme is a gluten­free training and accreditation programme for the hospitality and catering industry. The programme is designed to ensure that gluten­free food is produced and served safely for diners who have coeliac disease, or who are sensitive to gluten. A wide range of businesses can become accredited through the programme.

Most Innovative New Equipment

AND James & Wells Champion of Innovation Award

Winner – WillamsWarn

WilliamsWarn BrewKeg 50

Better than Dad’s backyard shed attempt, each BrewKeg 50 can produce 50 litres of beer or cider in five to seven days, with no formal training required. Ideal for smaller bars and cafes wanting to put their own individual touch on their particular brew.

Champion of Innovation Award winner Ian Williams, himself a Master Brewer, said his BrewKeg50 was like Uber for the brew market. “Bars, clubs and cafes can make beer at half the price of what they get from the brewery, in seven days. And it gives them the power to create their own brands. It’s very disruptive.”

Says Dona White of the winners: “Food, beverage and hospitality are all growth areas in New Zealand, and it’s fantastic to see an investment in exciting new products that will fuel the industry.”

Fine Food New Zealand is held at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, Auckland and finishes on Tuesday June 28 at 5pm.

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