Baker's Balls

New SA food products of the year

The results of the annual Food Review/Symrise New Product Competition 2010 have been announced, with NBL brand, Bakers, taking top honours, reportedly by “the narrowest of margins” from other contenders. Interestingly, the judges in the competition selected a mainstream brand as the winner, but the two runners’ up fall into the realm of successful and upwardly-mobile cottage industry.

Winner: Bakers Eet-Sum-Mor Balls

This range of chocolate-covered biscuit treats were rated, according to Food Review, as an ingenious brand extension with a clever way to reuse production waste and scraps. Consumers can now enjoy choc-covered bites of all Baker’s popular brands: Eet-Sum-Mor, Tennis, Romany Creams and Ginger Nuts (in dark and milk chocolate). This lateral thinking and business sense, combined with good taste, won the judges’ top marks.

Note: This website has not been privy to Baker’s motivation for their product in the competition, nor the judges’ evaluation, but it has been contacted by a senior technical manager at National Brands who stressed in an email that “Balls are not made from waste or scraps. They are little biscuits baked and enrobed.”

Second Place: Feast-de-renaissance

Feast-de-renaissance, conservers of piquant summer fruits, have make a big splash on the culinary scene, with this latest award joining a list of several others, a noteworthy achievement for Western Cape farming duo, Mervyn and Louise Howell, particularly when considering that they only embarked on this creative culinary journey four years ago. 

This sophisticated gastronomic range comprises various recipes of perfectly-ripened and conserved fruit, often infused with wine, resulting in a hand-crafted product line-up of accompaniments, sauces, relishes, coulis and more. 

Feast-de-renaissanceHome for Feast-de-renaissance is the Vyeboom Valley, located between Elgin and Franschhoek, with its ideal terroir and meso-climate for deciduous fruit, namely chilly winters and low summer rainfall. The business was born out of necessity, when the Howells realised that there had to be a better way to make a living than via the trials and uncertainties of farming and, since their own farm possessed an abundance of pears, searched for ways to add value. They decided that if the flavour of the fruit could be captured in jars, they could offer discerning consumers something different.

The Howells have since quit farming for food production, with fruit is sourced from selected producers who follow their high standards for growing fruit in a bio-friendly, environmentally and socially-responsible manner. There are many processing challenges: pears and plums, for instance, offer a marginal period of optimum maturity and flavour, before they pass from perfect to pulp, and they still have to withstand the rigours of pasteurisation. Another challenge is having to produce an entire year’s highly-perishable stock in a few weeks.

The range has immense stand-out on shelf, and are packaged with black lids for additional visual appeal. Colourful swing tickets add to the effect – they are blank on the reverse, cleverly initiating a gift idea in buyer’s mind at the moment of first contact.

Five exquisitely appealing product offerings are currently available: Pears in Red Wine Raspberry and Cinnamon; Citrus Stingers; Plum Coulis; Spiced Plums in Merlot; Blueberry Grape & Ginger Relish. These range is sold nationally at select Pick n Pay stores and other specialty outlets.

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CookmeThird Place: Cookme dehydrated meals

Inspired during a trip to Tuscany, this range of upmarket dehydrated meals – pastas, couscous, risotto and others – is the brainchild of Cape Town-based Wendy Viola. They are created via a slow-dehydration process, whereby the fresh ingredients are carefully preserved and require just water and a dash olive oil, butter, water, wine and a stock cube etc to produce a meal or side dish in a jiffy.

After creating an initial hit with family and friends, Viola moved on to selling her products, with great success, at the Earth Fair in Cape Town. The range has now evolved to include four risottos, four pasta mixes, four couscous and three mixes for eggs, bread and salads – and all are reportedly doing exceptionally well and have secured shelf space in delis, food markets and specialty shops throughout the country.

Visually, the products are eye catching with layers of brightly-coloured vegetables and herbs packaged in a transparent bag, allowing shoppers to see exactly what they are getting. Viola has built a strong brand personality, not only in the packaging aesthetics but also in the cheeky, sassy tone of the labelling and cooking instructions that talk directly to the consumer and inspire confidence in the product and its easy-to-cook convenience.

Pick n Pay is said to be interested in stocking the range – so watch this space for more from Cookme.

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Read the Food Review article here