Saturday, December 2, 2023

Vanilla scoops Supreme prize at NZ Food Awards

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Company behind alcohol-free version of flavouring takes out three gongs in all.
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Heilala Vanilla, the locally owned “good vanilla”, has been crowned Supreme winner at the New Zealand Food Awards for its Alcohol Free Vanilla Paste. 

The other big winner on the night was Wattie’s Tomato Sauce, which was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

More than 350 guests attended the gala dinner at Auckland’s Aotea Centre to celebrate excellence and innovation in New Zealand’s food and beverage industry. 

This year attendees were invited to purchase finalists’ products, with proceeds going to KiwiHarvest.  

KiwiHarvest was named the 2022 Food Hero winner – a title that recognises a business that continually supports NZ’s food and beverage industry. KiwiHarvest rescues between 170,000-200,000kg of good quality surplus food every month and gives it to people who are struggling.

Heilala Vanilla won both the Pantry Award sponsored by Countdown and the Business Innovation Award sponsored by BNZ. The Supreme Award is sponsored by Massey University. 

Co-founder of Heilala Vanilla Garth Boggiss said it was a huge surprise to win three times, given the number of amazing food brands present on the night.

“The last two years we’ve been really focused on the post-covid world – how we can innovate vanilla – and there’s a real opportunity to be set apart. We know vanilla is exciting, so bringing new products to community and consumers has been one way we’ve been able to do that. It’s really about being true to your purpose: everything from making your product as good as it can be through to looking after your people as well as you can.”

The company’s award-winning product, Alcohol Free Vanilla Paste, was described by the judges as truly innovative and scored maximum points for both innovation and sustainability.

Head judge Kay McMath said the product “impressed in all areas of judging – excellence, innovation and sustainability, earning the highest score seen in the awards history. It’s also provides the hospitality sector and retail markets with an alcohol-free alternative, while still matching the sensory profile of existing Heilala products.”

The Business Innovation judges praised Heilala Vanilla for being a proactive business leading the way for consumers.

“Innovation is reflected in every aspect of product, channel, brand and operations. Heilala Vanilla are a model company with a premium product, doing all they can to extend its positioning in a global market. Their success is a testament to the power of integrating inward technological investment, social values and quality ingredients.”

The award won by Wattie’s Tomato Sauce, a classic Kiwi favourite, celebrates Kiwi products that have withstood the test of time.

Wattie’s head of marketing Justine Powell said that Wattie’s is “such an iconic business and brand, and tomato sauce is one of those things that’s been on people’s tables for generations. I grew up with it, my kids have grown up with it, and I think it’s a true testament that it’s been nominated tonight and we’re super excited to have won, especially as we had some stiff competition.”

2023 winners

Artisan Award, sponsored by Cuisine: Mixed Roots – “Hot Stuff” Curry Oil

Below Zero Award, sponsored by FoodHQ: EatKinda – EatKinda Strawberry Swirl

Beverage Award, sponsored by Massey University: AVATAR – Mānuka Honey Elixir – Lemon & Mixed Berry Flavoured

Business Innovation Award, sponsored by BNZ: Heilala Vanilla

Chilled Award, sponsored by Countdown: Kāpiti – Succulent Summer Plum Yoghurt

Health and Wellbeing Award, sponsored by Palmerston North City Council: Pure Food Co – Tiramisu

Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by AsureQuality: Wattie’s – Tomato Sauce

Novel Award , sponsored by New Zealand Food Innovation Network: EatKinda – EatKinda Mint Choc Bikkie

Pantry Award, sponsored by Countdown: Heilala Vanilla – Alcohol Free Vanilla Paste

Primary Sector Award, sponsored by New Zealand Food Safety: Royalburn – Fine Lamb

Supreme Award, sponsored by Massey University: Heilala Vanilla – Alcohol Free Vanilla Paste

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