2020 Ohio Signature Food Contest Winners

A homemade snack bar and spice rub were the winning products in the 11th annual Ohio Signature Food Contest co-sponsored by Ohio Farm Bureau and the Center for Innovative Food Technology.

The contest showcases new, innovative products from across Ohio. The winners will receive expert guidance on how to advance their product in the marketplace as well as consumer feedback. They will have access to the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen.

This year’s contest was held virtually with five finalists describing their product to six judges, including Tim Hicks, Ohio Farm Bureau business development field director. The judges already had sampled and scored the products on a variety of categories, including viability and commercial potential of the product, business strategy and overall appeal to the marketplace.

“The demand for locally grown and produced foods is growing every year, and we’re fortunate to have a platform to highlight our local entrepreneurs,” said Rebecca A. Singer, president and CEO of CIFT.

2020 contest winners

Nicole Reno of Toledo won for her R.O. Bar (stands for raw and organic), which contains only five ingredients and is currently being sold on social media. She wants to expand her business to gyms and farmers markets.

Bijou Nuakey, a native of Togo from Canal Winchester, won for her Exotic Kebab Rub, a recipe of West African spices that’s been handed down from her grandmother and mother. She’s a food science student at Ohio State University and hasn’t produced her food rub professionally.

Reno and Nuakey will receive technical and business development assistance to help advance the winning product to the marketplace, assistance with production of samples to be used for consumer and buyer feedback, nutritional analysis, process authority assistance (if applicable) and coordination with the Ohio Department of Agriculture for label approval, among other guidance.

2021 Contest

The 2021 contest will open early next year. Deadline to enter is generally at the end of May with award presentations at the Ohio State Fair.

Photo caption: Winning products are the R.O. Bar (raw and organic), above and West African Exotic Kebab Rub, below.

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