Launchpad for small local food producers is back

25th April 2023 | EATIVITY Editors

Australia is blessed to have so many small local food producers, artisans, farmers and growers. But it’s usually only a select few from each region that have regular orders coming in from top chef’s or thousands of households, each month. Most instead, rely on selling their produce to locals at farmers’ markets to make ends meets. There is one thing that can help a boutique Bellingen beef producer or small Sunshine Coast sourdough baker become a well known household name though. Food awards! 

The Melbourne Royal Australian Food Awards are one of the largest programs of their kind and have been a launchpad for small local food producers and some of Australia’s most successful food products and brands. And the exciting news is, is that they are back, after a three-year hiatus, in a new five-category format.

Producers around Australia have the chance to win the top gong in five separate categories.

The awards don’t just celebrate excellence in Australian food production, they also provide producers from around the country with an incredible benchmarking opportunity, according to Damian
Nieuwesteeg Manager, Awards Programs – Food, Beverage & Horticulture at Melbourne Royal. 

“All entries receive comprehensive feedback on the six attributes against which their products are assessed – colour, flavour, aroma, texture and body, trueness to description, and finish of product. This is from some of the most well-regarded experts in the industry, and for many is the main motivation for entering,” Damian said.

“These coveted awards bring together the best of the best in the Australian food industry and, for those producers and artisans who win their category, it can be life changing. “After a detailed review, the five new categories better reflect the needs, wants and expectations of Australian food producers, as well as showcasing industry trends, production techniques and consumer interest.”

Judges provide all entries with comprehensive feedback.

The five new food award programs to be introduced over the coming 12 months are:
• Melbourne Royal Sweet and Savoury Preserves Awards (judging in July);
• Melbourne Royal Dairy Awards (judging in August);
• Melbourne Royal Meat and Smallgoods Awards (judging in August);
• Melbourne Royal Bread and Baked Goods Awards (judging in March 2024); and
• Melbourne Royal Chocolate and Confectionery Awards (judging in March 2024).

Entries for Sweet and Savoury Preserves are now open and close on Friday May 5th. “We expect entries in this category to be hotly contested, reflecting the preserves industry’s upswing in creative fermenting, pickling and third-wave hot sauce,” said Damian. “With unique Asian preserves and sauces highly sought after by home cooks and dining venues, Australian kimchi, natto, wasabi pastes, Indian pickles, chilli oil and truffle condiments are now found in local stores beside luxe versions of European favourites such as sauerkraut and piccalilli.”

Producers like Kimchi Club on the EATIVITY Local Food Directory could benefit significantly by entering.

The Melbourne Royal Australian Food Awards are open to commercial food producers of all sizes, from boutique operators to large-scale manufacturers. In 2019, when the awards were last held, they attracted more than 1,400 entries from about 380 Australian producers, with the reworked program set to see even further growth.

Small local food producers that enter products into the newly relaunched program in 2023 can elevate their brand, gain valuable feedback, and increase their reach among their target audience. Full details of the categories and classes and how to enter the awards can be found via the official website.