The small business sector in Ohio is vital to many stakeholders. The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation sponsored the Ohio Signature Food Contest which showcases many new, innovative products ready to take that next step – actual product development.
CIFT President and CEO, Rebecca Singer, and Connie Ward, business development field director, OFBF, announced the two winners selected in recognition of their product concepts:
- Hot Pepper Relish by Charles Garrett (Newton Falls, Ohio) – A flavorful mixture of Inferno or hot wax peppers in a tomato based sauce that adds a punch of heat to any sandwich.
- Shiitake & Onion Soup Mix by Te’Lario Watkins (Blacklick, Ohio) – A tasty and versatile blend of shiitake mushrooms and onions that can be made into a soup, mixed into sour cream for a dip or applied as a seasoning for meat.
Following a review of written applications and presentations by food entrepreneurs and chefs to a panel of judges, the highest scoring concepts were selected based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, and overall appeal to the marketplace.
As a result of the award, technical assistance from CIFT will be provided to the startup businesses ranging from business planning, product/process development, shelf stability testing, labeling review, regulatory assistance, and batch product preparations for sampling. Later, production will take place at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK) in Bowling Green, Ohio. The NOCK is a commercially-licensed kitchen that educates and provides technical assistance to new and growing food businesses.