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World Food Innovation Awards 2023: Judging panel announced

The World Food Innovation Awards are designed to recognise and reward excellence in the development of innovative food and beverage products and technologies around the world. This year, an international judging panel has been assembled to assess all applications. These individuals have the difficult task of determining which food and beverage innovators have made the most meaningful impact in the industry and have best taken on the role of developing revolutionary products and technologies. The process will take place at the end of February when judges will evaluate applications to determine which award entries meet the highest criteria and will be crowned our winners. Applications for the 2023 World Food Innovation Awards will be accepted until 17 February 2023, so be sure to apply soon! Part 1 of our judging panel:

Stefania Pérez Beltrán It is a pleasure to be judging the World Food Innovation Awards for the third year in a row. The exciting world of food innovation is a great passion of mine. Currently, new ways of living and new consumer habits are driving trends, and this is the time to recognise the real impact of products that can make a difference in terms of wellness, sustainability and innovation. My vision is to have a 360 experience that impacts consumers' perception. This experience starts from what you see or perceive, through taste and feel. The real connection starts here, so it’s time to analyse and understand each concept. I will consider the following aspects when evaluating the different categories: Vision: Understanding culture and consumer roots is the best way to interpret what they need for delivering a solution in a product. Wellness: Being balanced between mind, body, soul and spirit provides a nourishing experience for the consumer. Taste: The product must provide exceptional taste and ingredient integration. Natural ingredients are the best choice! Sustainability: The impact via raw-artisan ingredients and the transformation into a product must provide the consumer with a clear view of the supply chain and positive impact of primary sources. WOW Effect: The blend of delivering a good product along with nutritional benefits, good taste, communication, sustainable impact and wellness all help a product to have a lasting effect on the consumer.

Gwen Jones As a member of the news team at FoodBev Media, I am always on the lookout for the industry trends and developments. We’ve seen a lot of innovation happening in the food, beverage, dairy and packaging sectors, especially when it comes to sustainability and creating a greener world. As consumers demand more sustainable brands and products to choose from, it has been amazing to see the industry quickly reacting to these needs, as well as new blood coming onto the scene with a greener story to tell. The five factors I will be looking out for during this year’s World Food Innovation Awards include: Packaging: I hope to see more innovative packaging such as skin packaging, modified atmosphere packaging, thermoforming films, heat-shrinkable film, barrier technology and more. Convenience: Consumers are looking for the easiest and most convenient on-the-go foods that don’t break the bank. Convenience is one of the biggest factors that play a part in consumer purchasing behaviours. Nutrition: Since the pandemic, nutrition has become more of a priority for consumers from high-protein diets to plant-based diets. I would like to see more products that are inclusive and that satisfy multiple nutritional needs. Mission: The face (or faces) behind the brand mean a lot to consumers and can often determine factors such as reliability, trust and repeat purchase. I want to see brands and companies that are passionate about what their target audience is passionate about e.g. clean ingredients, reusable or recyclable packaging, and managing food waste. Digital presence: Embrace new technology and new platforms. Social media engagement is a must. It’s crucial that consumers can find relevant information about the products they are buying and consuming, at the click of a button and through multiple channels. I’m looking for brands that engage with their consumers via multiple digital avenues.

Maria Mascaraque It’s a pleasure to join the judging panel for the World Food Innovation Awards. In these unprecedented times and with ever-changing consumer demands, here is what I will be looking out for this time round: Health-focused: Health is paramount and consumers are increasingly looking for functional food as a key component of wellbeing. Functional natural ingredients such as botanicals, ancient grains and positioning around gut health and mood management will be a plus for me. Purpose-driven: It is essential to build brands with values that people resonate with. Social and environmental commitments are increasingly important considering the devastating effects suffered by communities living in conflict zones and the damaging consequences of climate change. I will be looking for how purpose-driven aspects are represented in the brand. Solution: What are the consumer needs that the brand is solving? I will be looking for factors that distinguish the brand from the competition. It might be that it plays in an emerging or growing niche, it could be that uses affordable prices as a differentiator or offers a one-of-a-kind experience, you name it! Clean and Transparent: At a time when virtuous proclamations can often amount to greenwashing and unfounded health benefits, there is an ever-growing demand for transparency across the supply chain, everything from origin to easily recognisable ingredients in line with clean label trends. The latter is increasingly important in the plant-based aisle. Honesty and integrity are essential to building trust and loyalty among consumers. Storytelling: I will be particularly interested in innovative communication, engaging with the consumer from a more personal perspective and creating emotional connections. It could be reflected in the brands’ advertisement or original packaging; I will be looking for these aspects which are increasingly needed to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Morgan Oliveira I'm always excited about food. About eating it, talking about it, and (of course), the entrepreneurs working to improve it. Food is a vast topic with massive complexities, problems, and frankly, it's going to take a plethora of solutions to begin to build a more sustainable and equitable food system (part of why folks shouldn't "poo-poo" ideas and answers different from their own). But again—I find it exhilarating to be involved in such a rapidly expanding and innovative space. As fun and exciting as food can be, the change needed in this area is really quite urgent. The climate crisis has never been at a more critical point than it is today. Meanwhile, global obesity rates continue to rise even as food insecurity does, too. And these are just a few topics in the vertical (food waste, soil health—the list is long). But every year, we see more and more brilliant, unique, and truly groundbreaking ideas come to light. Products that promote health while also being convenient and tasty. Technologies to utilise waste streams, or help make new products cheaper and more accessible. Every year, the dream of a healed food system gets just a little closer to becoming a reality. And it's wonderful to take a minute and recognise some of these changemakers with moments such as the World Food Innovation Awards. I'm looking forward to judging again this year and can't wait to see what is put before me. Thank you to all who work to make a difference – we couldn't do this without you.


Stay up to date with our awards by visiting the dedicated FoodBev Awards website

Part 2 of our World Food Innovation Awards judging panel will be announced shortly.

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