Best in Show

NRA announces first annual Food & Beverage Product Innovations Award Winners

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

Chosen for their significant advancements and innovations in ingredients, preparation, processing and packaging, the winners of the inaugural Food & Beverage Product Innovations awards were named last week by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

An independent panel of judges organized by the NRA chose the honorees, who will be on display in the F&B Product Innovations Gallery at the 2011 NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show at Chicago's McCormick Place, May 21-24.

The winners reflect a number of current themes impacting the industry, from health and wellness to sustainability. Following are the inaugural winners.

[image-nocss] ConAgra Foodservice, The Max Fit for Kids Plus. Whole Grain Stuffed Crust Pizza Made with all-natural, whole-wheat flour, this pizza is 51% whole grain, and meets new National School Lunch standards including lower sodium. It's available in cheese and turkey pepperoni varieties.

ConAgra Foodservice, PAM Cooking Sprays. PAM has converted all of its cans to an environmentally improved two-piece can, which requires less energy and materials to produce. The can weighs 10% less than traditional three-piece cans and generates less waste in the environment.

DrybagSteak LLC, UMAI DrybagSteak. This unique European technology allows any operator to create custom dry-aged steak (including prime, choice and organic) using a clean, protected environment in any refrigerator or commercial walk-in.

Epicurean Butter, Spreadable Roasted Garlic Herb Butter. This chef-created, versatile spread is convenient and consistent enough to scale up for large operations. The product uses all-natural, premium ingredients blended with Grade AA butter.

Fermin & Wagshal's, Iberico de Bellota Heritage Pork. The legendary, free-range, 100% pure Iberian pigs in Western Spain feed on acorns and herbs, resulting in meat infused with a buttery, nutty flavor. This Spanish favorite is now available to U.S. operations for the first time ever.

Food Market Merchandising Inc., got milk? Magic Milk Straws. All-natural, gluten-free, allergen-free and preservative-free and with virtually no sugar added, this product is a smart treat choice, and encourages children to choose milk over less healthy beverage options.

H.J. Heinz Co., Heinz Dip & Squeeze Ketchup. Heinz Dip & Squeeze Ketchup is designed to fit consumers' on-the-go lifestyle. With three times the ketchup of a traditional 9-gram packet in a portable, clean, dual-function package, Dip & Squeeze Ketchup enhances the eating experience for adults and children alike.

Inventure Foods Inc., Boulder Canyon All Natural Snacks in Fully Compostable Packaging. This all-natural line of snacks is now available in fully compostable packaging produced from wood pulp that is sourced from managed plantations. The packaging is 100% compostable in all key biodegradation situations, and is certified to meet compostable packaging standards (ASTM 6400).

La Brea Bakery, Telera Roll. The quest for a nationally distributed Telera roll, the only kind that can be used to create an authentic Mexican Torta sandwich, is finally over. This all-natural, hearth-baked roll has a light golden crust and soft interior.

Lamb Weston (a brand of ConAgra Foods), Sweet Things Mini Tater Puffs. These unique and flavorful puffs made from on-trend sweet potatoes are sized for any meal occasion. Crispy outside and tender inside, they are great for dipping, and they offer versatile preparation including conventional baking.

S&D Coffee Inc., Teafinity Natural Brewed Iced Tea with the Brewmaster System. This two-part breakthrough features a liquid tea concentrate and revolutionary dispensing system that, when used together, deliver the appearance and taste of consistent and high-quality fresh-brewed tea.

Sinco Inc., Hand-stretched Wood-fired Pizza Crusts. Produced in Italy, these parbaked, artisan pizza crusts are made with all-natural, premium ingredients and hand-rolled so that no two are exactly alike. Now operators can offer pre-made pizza crusts that look like they were handcrafted on-premise.

The Bread House & Granary, Going Chia! Energy Fiber Bars. These bars are made with freshly milled Montana hard red whole wheat infused with the ancient and powerful chia seeds, creating a nutritious meal replacement or snack option.

The 2011 NRA Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show will be held May 21-24 at the McCormick Place in Chicago. Visit for more information.

Abbie Westra, CSP/Winsight By Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP
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