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Growings On: Hart Dairy wins Flavor of Georgia | lifestyles

Competition among food products under the banner Flavor of Georgia has been an annual event since 2007. The contest has launched new products into success and garnered more publicity and sales for products already in the market.

From rural farmers to urban businesses, successful and talented food artisans have emerged from all over Georgia to create delicacies from the abundant agricultural products our state has to offer. More than 1,500 products have entered the contest since it began.

Contest sponsors include the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the state’s leading trade association for agribusiness interests; the Georgia Department of Agriculture, working to maintain the state’s viable farm industry and protect the consuming public; and Georgia Grown, a division of the Georgia Department of Agriculture helping grow local agribusinesses.

This year’s grand prize winner was Hart Dairy for its Pasture Raised & Grass Fed 365 Days Per Year Chocolate Whole Milk. Hart Dairy is an ethically-driven dairy company based in Waynesboro led by Tim Connell and Richard Watson. Their cows are pasture raised, never confined and grass fed 365 days a year.

The agribusiness promotes its chocolate milk not only as a treat for the whole family but as a beneficial post-workout drink due to the milk’s protein and carbohydrate content. Hart Dairy promises milk that is better nutritionally, better for the environment and better for the animals.

“We are thrilled to be among so many wonderful finalists. Hart Dairy does what all these companies do — represents the amazing food and agriculture that comes out of the great state of Georgia,” said Mandy Schulz, marketing manager at Hart Dairy. “While our pasture-raised and grass-fed 365 days per year milk is nationwide, it all starts in Georgia, where our farms use regenerative agriculture systems, which are supportive of the environment, and our herd is Certified Humane. It is important that we tell that story.”

Hart Dairy was among 32 finalists narrowed down from 148 entries during the first round of judging on March 11. Judges for the contest include food brokers, grocery buyers and other food experts. Entries are evaluated by category based on their Georgia theme, commercial appeal, taste, innovation and market potential.

“The feedback we received today from vendors, UGA (University of Georgia) students, alumni and faculty was tremendous,” Schulz said. “Winning is nice, too, of course, but really, it is about letting everyone know that dairy can be done in a responsible and affordable manner. It’s time to care about your milk.”

Flavor of Georgia is a Signature Event organized by the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.

“Congratulations to all of our 2022 winners and thank you to all of our volunteers, faculty and staff for supporting this event and making it a major success,” said Food Science and Technology Department head and Professor Manpreet Singh. “We are excited to have the opportunity to work not only with the winners but all the contestants who participated, helping them with product development, getting their products market-ready and assisting them through the Department of Food Science and Technology.”

Winners, listed by company, product name and city, were selected for 11 categories:

• Barbecue Sauces: Brooksmade Gourmet Foods Inc., Habanero Soulful Sauce, Alpharetta.

• Beverages: Byne Blueberry Farms, Blueberry Cider, Waynesboro.

• Condiments and Sauces: Pride Road LLC, Peach Hibiscus Chutney, Lithonia.

• Confections: Maybird Confections, White Gold Pecan Toffee, Alpharetta.

• Dairy and Related Products: Hart Dairy, Pasture Raised & Grass Fed 365 Days Per Year Chocolate Whole Milk, Alpharetta.

• Honey and Related Products: Savannah Bee Co., Hot Honey, Savannah.

• Jams and Jellies: We Bee Jammin’ LLC, Strawberry Lemonade Marmalade, Pooler.

• Meats and Seafood: White Oak Pastures, Pastured Pork Bacon, Bluffton.

• Miscellaneous: Sutton Mill Creek Syrup Co., Spiced Apple Cider Hickory Syrup, Clarkesville.

• Sauces and Seasonings: Komodo Sauces, Komodo Black, Kennesaw.

• Snack Foods: Mokipops LLC, Mokipops Basil Lemonade Frozen Fruit Bar Popsicle, Atlanta.

A People’s Choice Award, chosen by event attendees, went to HIBO LLC of Athens for its HIBO Classic Hibiscus Superdrink +Peach.

The grand prize winner was awarded an exhibit space at the Georgia Food Industry Association annual convention (a $1,500 value) and three consultation sessions from the UGA Food Product Innovation and Commercialization Center (FoodPIC) on product or process design, ingredient functionality, sensory testing or shelf-life determination (at $1,500 value).

In his comments at the award ceremony, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean and Director Nick T. Place shared that Flavor of Georgia is an opportunity for competitors to embark on improvements in their end products and business plans during the competition itself and to make connections with other experts at UGA.

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