Sofi Judges Weigh In On Trends
If you’re not familiar with the judging process, it’s intense. About 60 food professionals comprise the judging panel, including chefs, specialty food buyers, recipe developers, food journalists, and culinary instructors. They participate in a blind judging of all the entries in 39 categories—no brand identification, packaging, or pricing allowed. The judges work independently to evaluate each product based on judging criteria of Taste (flavor, appearance, texture, aroma) and Ingredient Quality. (New Product winners in each category are also evaluated on Innovation—unexpected culinary experience, creativity, on trend.) You can read the full details here.
In the meantime, with more than half of the process behind them, we asked some members of the judging panel what trends they were finding. Here is some of what they had to say:
Alex Marx, director of growth solutions, KeHE
• Non-dairy beverage category: a ton of innovation in oat milks, walnut milks and all things alt dairy.
V. Sheree Williams, publisher, Cuisine Noir magazine
• A lot of cookie dough and jackfruit in snacks as well as nuts, including almonds in salsa/dip forms.
• Turmeric in a lot of categories, some work with it and some don’t.
Jerry James Stone, food writer, recipe developer, and cookbook author
• Turmeric is permeating a lot different categories.
• Natural snacks such as apricot kernels.
The 2019 sofi Winners will be announced on May 1.