The Great Taste Awards

03 July 2009, 14:01 pm
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

Cotswold Fayre's, Paul Hargreaves, discusses whether producers are getting their money's worth from awards

The “Great Taste Awards” are lauded as the “Oscars of the Food World” – and in many respects they are. I was recently privileged to sit on one of the judging panels at the Great Taste Awards at the Real Food Festival. (All the judges give of their own time completely free of charge to do this, by the way, despite the entry fees generating a revenue of £125,000 – I am sure there are some published accounts of where this money goes!)

Whilst there is clearly some degree of subjectivity on which products go forward, the method is broad enough to allow the shining lights to shine. Having said that there was a product in our group that I thought was excellent, but the other judges in my quartet had tastes too conservative to recognize a superb product. Overall though, I came out of the process a lot less cynical about the awards than I went into it. A small percentage of the entered products (less than 10% from our group) go forward to further judging and some of these are thrown out at the second stage. Last year only 1.5% of products earned the coveted Three Gold Stars.

So, great! The Great Taste Awards work. But the tragedy of them is really amongst the small producers who think that once they have a gold award of any description their future is secure. Wrong! Only really the Supreme Champion gets any level of free marketing, the other “winners” nothing to speak of in terms of anything that the members of the public would see or hear.

Certainly the “Great Taste Award” sticker on the product’s packaging may well help, but there are still vast tracts of the food-buying public that have never heard of the “Great Taste Awards”. If you have a great-tasting product, the best way of achieving good sales through the general public is by being very generous with tasting samples. Many of the independent retailers are as keen as mustard on tasting products in their shops – indeed this is one of their points of difference with the multiples. Ensure that your products are the ones being tasted.

Secondly ensure that the packaging and brand reflects the quality of the product inside. This will involve spending some money, folks! You would be amazed at the number of products that pass through my office that are great-tasting, but I know that sales will be pitiful because they look like some-one has knocked together the packaging on a seven-year old computer and printed the label in their bedroom. Don’t let your packaging stop people buying what could be a great product.

Thirdly ensure your products are talked about. Take on a PR company, get in the food magazines and get talked about at dinner parties throughout the land.

By all means, spend the £25 per product entering the Great Taste Awards, but be prepared to spend a lot more than that to make your Great Taste Award Gold turn into real gold!

To read more of Paul’s blogs, visit

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