The Specialty Food Association Announces sofi Awards Finalists

Finalists reflect flavors and applications that could find their way into c-stores

NEW YORK-- A panel of judges have completed the second round of judging of the Specialty Food Association’s sofi Awards competition. Sixteen finalists for Outstanding New Product and Outstanding Product Line categories were selected from a pool of 459 products entered in New Products, and 253 entered in Product Line.

The sofi Awards are considered the specialty food industry’s most prestigious honor and consists of 32 categories. This year, members of the Specialty Food Association submitted 2,737 entries. All finalists are judged by a national panel of specialty food experts. A final round of judging will be held at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York at the end of June.

This news comes amidst buzz in the c-store sphere that upscale snacking is on the increase.

“There’s a growing proliferation of upscale snacking,” Ken Seiter, chief marketing officer at the Specialty Food Association, told Convenience Store Products. He attributes the trend to the growing sophistication of the consumer palate paired with the desire for daily indulgences while on a budget.

Some of the upscale snacks and beverages that have gone on to the final round of the sofi competition reflect flavors and applications that c-store retailers can expect to see translated onto their store shelves:

  • Spicy Maple Bourbon Pickle from Brooklyn Brine Co.
  • Apple Ghost Chili Salt Caramels from Blissinger’s Handcrafted Chocolatier
  • Popcorn Toffee Squares from Poco Dolce Confections
  • Joia All Natural Soda in Orange Jasmine and Nutmeg from Joia All Natural Soda
  • Almond Water with Coconut Flavor from Victoria’s Kitchen
  • Chipotle Mayonnaise from Sir Kensington’s
  • Cocomels Sea Salt from JJ’s Sweets Cocomels
  • Peanut Brittle from Zingerman’s Candy Manufactory
  • Lemon Sugar Cookie from Grey Ghost Bakery
  • Coconut Macaroons from Klara’s Gourmet Cookies

Seiter said that more mainstream manufacturers are starting to take note of brands making waves in the specialty snack aisle; at the very least, they’re mimicking flavor profiles and ingredient trends.

“The mass marketers are really starting to get on the case because that’s where the consumer is going,” he said.

Click here for the complete list of sofi finalists.