The Specialty Food Association (SFA) completed its 2020 sofi™ Awards judging, which was hosted this year by the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University (FIC) in Bridgeton, NJ. On August 25, SFA announced the winners of its 48th annual sofi™ Awards competition, resulting in 157 winners across 49 categories from around the world.
“The sofi™ Awards highlight the best of the best within the specialty food industry,” said Ron Tanner, vice president, Education, Government and Industry Relations at SFA.
The judging, postponed from March due to COVID-19, resumed in late July with a panel of culinary experts sampling their way through blind tasting and ended in early August.
“This achievement of conducting the sofi™ Awards under these challenging circumstances truly honors and celebrates our membership and our industry, and our 2020 winners exhibit a level of excellence that excites specialty food buyers and consumers across all channels,” Tanner added.
Earlier this year, the Specialty Food Association selected FIC as the new host location for the 2020 sofi™ Awards, which has been held annually since 1972 to recognize innovation and remarkable taste, and to highlight the flavors and the creativity found across the specialty foods industry. This year, judges worked under meticulous safety procedures and were spaced 12 feet apart in a controlled environment, with samples prepared and overseen by FIC staff.
“As food industry veterans ourselves, we understand how incredibly important the 2020 sofi™ awards judging was for participating SFA members. Amongst all the pivoting, we were able to achieve our primary goal, which was to present the judges with 1900+ specialty food and beverage products carefully and safely. We did just that, integrating many COVID-19 policies and procedures along the way,” said Diane Holtaway, associate director of Marketing at the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University.
Products competed for Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards were judged 70 percent on taste and 30 percent on ingredient quality. Products competing for the New Product Awards were judged 60 percent on taste, 20 percent on ingredient quality and 20 percent on innovation.
About the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University
The Food Innovation Center is a unique food business incubation and economic development program, which is a unit of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The Center provides business and technology expertise to startup and established food and value-added agricultural businesses, locally and globally. It operates out of two USDA and FDA-certified manufacturing facilities located in Piscataway and Bridgeton, NJ, facilitating the commercialization of products into distribution, while also providing mentoring assistance in marketing, R&D, food safety, regulatory, manufacturing and sales and distribution. Visit foodinnovation.rutgers.edu.
About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 4,000 members in the U.S. and abroad the tools, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Visit specialtyfood.com.