Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Win the chance to get your local food product on the shelf at The Fresh Market

Winner of Blue Ridge Food Ventures contest, 'The Big Tasty,' could get grocery shelf space in addition to cash, mentoring and more; deadline for entries extended to Oct. 31
The Big Tasty, a new North Carolina contest to discover the next big idea for a food business or product, has just gotten bigger and tastier.
Organized by Asheville-based agribusiness incubator Blue Ridge Food Ventures, The Big Tasty offers food business entrepreneurs a chance to bring an innovative new product or service out of the kitchen and onto the market. The grand prize winner receives $2,500 and 100 free hours’ use of the BRFV commercial kitchen space and equipment, worth almost $2,400. And now, thanks to Greensboro-based grocery retailer The Fresh Market®, the champion may also win shelf placement in the company’s 15 North Carolina stores.
“The Fresh Market actively supports our local manufacturers and farmers. We feel that participating in this contest and assisting the winners with getting their product to our shelf are important steps we take toward bringing our customers the highest quality, most unique products available anywhere.”said Christopher van’t Wout, Local Marketing Coordinator for The Fresh Market.
“We are thrilled about The Fresh Market’s generous offer,” said Blue Ridge Food Ventures Executive Director Mary Lou Surgi. “The company has already demonstrated their support of local specialty food-makers by carrying several products that are made or got their start at Blue Ridge Food Ventures.”
According to Surgi, Blue Ridge Food Ventures was founded in 2005 to help up-and-coming businesses succeed, and support of The Fresh Market will take the contest to a whole new level. “This new component of the competition makes it even more important that contestants enter product ideas that are commercially viable –not just great tasting. We’re looking for products that our experts believe have excellent potential on the market,” she said.
Surgi urges those entering The Big Tasty to study the trends in developing new food products.
“For example, sorghum is growing in popularity as a sweetener. Sweet potatoes are turning up as ingredients in fries, crackers and baked goods. Unsweetened coconut, figs and American regional cheeses are also becoming more popular, as are gluten-free foods,” Surgi explained.
Surgi said consumers are choosing healthier snacks; whole grains and seeds, including oats, chia, flax, quinoa and couscous, are continuing to gain in popularity, as are Chilean and Indian foods. “And people are looking for new flavor combinations in sweets and desserts, such as cayenne pepper, ginger, bacon, maple and pomegranate,” she said.
THE DEADLINE FOR ENTERING THE BIG TASTY HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO OCT. 31; semi-finalists will be selected in mid-November. Contestants pay a $10 entry fee and submit an application package that explains, illustrates and introduces the new product or service. The competition is open to any North Carolina resident with an idea for a new food product or service, excluding packaged meat or dairy, low-acid products or products containing more than .5 percent alcohol.
In January, semi-finalists will receive one-on-one coaching from food business experts. Final presentations and taste tests with a professional panel of judges, which will include representatives of The Fresh Market, will be made in March. Winners will be announced in April.
Two runners-up receive $1,000 each and 50 business incubator hours at Blue Ridge Food Ventures. All winners receive a free Foundations of Business Planning course from co-sponsor Mountain BizWorks, an agency that offers training and consultation for small businesses. The competition is made possible with funding from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund.
For an entry form, complete contest details and more, visit
About Blue Ridge Food Ventures
Asheville-based Blue Ridge Food Ventures was North Carolina’s first business incubator specifically designed to provide services to farmers and food entrepreneurs. It is a job creation initiative of AdvantageWest, the regional economic development partnership for the 23 westernmost counties of N.C. BRFV offers food entrepreneurs shared use of an FDA-compliant, 11,000-sq.-ft. commercial kitchen, manufacturing space, and technical and business support. Small, local food production companies rent time and industrial kitchen space and equipment to produce everything from pickles, pastries and hot sauce to chocolate truffles, herb mixtures, baked goods, nut butters and teas. Caterers and food cart/food truck businesses also use the facilities as a commissary. Products made at BRFV can be found across the country. Several have received national recognition in national media outlets, including one that won a Cooking Light magazine taste-test award in the artisanal foods category. For information, visit
About The Fresh Market, Inc.
Founded in 1982, The Fresh Market, Inc. (NASDAQ: TFM) is a specialty grocery retailer focused on providing high-quality products in a unique and inviting atmosphere with a high level of customer service. The company currently operates 124 stores in 24 states, primarily located in the Southeast, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, with plans for continued expansion throughout the country. The Fresh Market is an equal opportunity employer. For more information, please visit

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