The winners of the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards, powered by Massey University, were unveiled last night at a gala dinner among 380 guests at Sky City. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the awards which celebrate creative innovations from New Zealand’s artisanal and large-scale food and beverage manufacturers, with 22 products from 22 different companies taking out the top spots.

Spring Sheep Milk Co. took out the coveted and highest honour of the Massey University Supreme Award with its Vanilla Flavoured Probiotic Sheep Milk Powder, which also won them the NZTE Export Innovation Award. Nick Hammond, Chief Operating Officer of Spring Sheep Milk Co, shared what winning the Massey University Supreme Award meant to them and their dedicated team.

“Receiving the Supreme Award is massive for us, we’re a really small company trying to do really big things,” Hammond said. “At Spring Sheep Milk Co, we’re trying to break new ground in product innovation and enter new markets, so I feel that this award is a real recognition of our whole team, and their passion for their work.”

Other companies recognised for their outstanding innovation and products include Poppy and Olive in the BITE Gourmet Award category with its delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Butter, Gathered Game taking out the Artisan Award for its Premium Wild Venison Salami and Deer Sticks, and Proper Crisps in the Dry Award category with its Kumara Chipotle and Garlic.

The revamped Food Safety Culture and Primary Sector Products Awards, sponsored by the Ministry for Primary Industries, were taken out by The Pure Food Co. and T&G Global Ltd. respectively. The James & Wells Business Innovation Award was presented to Original Foods Baking Co.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas said that the interest in the New Zealand Food Awards was exceptional, and the level of innovation from New Zealanders is something to be proud of.

“The finalists have set the bar high for this auspicious occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Food Awards. The entrants should be exceptionally proud of themselves and their world-class products,” she said. “As a small country, the level of innovation that we provide in terms of the food and beverage sector is incredible. We are committed to encouraging local business to continue to grow, experiment and create fantastic products, while recognising them for their efforts.”

For the third year in a row, the judging panel included food writer and cookbook author Nici Wickes, award-winning chef Geoff Scott and renowned chef and food writer Ray McVinnie, who sampled and sipped New Zealand’s finest food and beverages.

Geoff Scott said the diversity in products this year was something to get excited about.

“We thought judging last year was hard, but the range of products presented to us this year has really made it difficult! We love to see the creativity and innovation in products from all corners of New Zealand.”

“What I love is we are starting to see some of our uniquely New Zealand ingredients coming through. Kumara being used in innovative ways, horopito, locally grown saffron, that sort of thing which I think is worth celebrating,” said Wickes.

Joining the New Zealand Food Awards 2017 judging panel this year was the founder of Moa Brewing Company, Josh Scott, who is New Zealand’s first certified Cicerone (beer expert). Scott was brought on board to judge the Countdown Alcoholic Beverage Category.

Craft beer’s popularity is going through the roof, and Scott said he felt privileged to be a part of the judging panel. “While we’ve had a challenging season in terms of hop production, the craft beer culture is thriving in New Zealand,” he said. “I’d like us to reach a point where our reputation for producing top-notch real beers, is up there with our reputation for world-class wines.”

At the end of the night, there could only be one winner in the Alcoholic Beverage Category. The finalists included 12 entries from six different companies, and it was Epic Brewing Company’s Epic Hop Zombie IPA beer that took home the Countdown Alcoholic Beverage award.

Winning products are eligible to use the New Zealand Food Awards Quality Mark highlighting the superiority of the products to both consumers and industry, and helping to boost sales and distribution domestically and internationally.

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New Zealand Food Awards 2017 Winners:


Award Category Company



Product Location
Artisan Food Producer Award in association with Supermarket News and Restaurant & Café Magazine

1st Place






Gathered Game





Premium Wild Venison Salami and Wild Venison Deer Sticks








Feijoa Sorbet

Artisan 2nd Place Carrello del Gelato Wellington
Artisan 3rd Place Hawke’s Bay Brewing Company Old Fashioned Ginger Beer, Spiced Ginger Beer, Ginger Fusion and Red Sangria Napier
Artisan Highly


Abel New Zealand Ltd Abel Methode Cider Nelson
Bakeworks Ltd Home St. Sprouted Good Seed Bread Auckland
 Dr Feelgood Ltd Handmade Ice Pops Range  





Maungatapere Berries Ltd Kwanza Fresh Raspberries  





Queen Anne Indulgence Ltd Dark Chocolate, Boysenberry Jelly Marshmallow Bar  



The Caker Ltd Coconut Raspberry Cake Mix Auckland

Artisan Craft Beer Award in association with Supermarket News and Countdown



The Croucher Brewing Company



Croucher Lowrider




BITE Gourmet Award Poppy & Olive Ltd Chocolate Hazelnut Butter  



Countdown Alcoholic Beverages Award Epic Brewing Company  

Epic Hop Zombie IIPA


Non-Alcoholic Beverages Award in association with Villa Maria Barker’s of Geraldine Squeezed Fruit Botanicals Syrup: Squeezed Lemons with Lime, Cucumber and Mint Canterbury
Chilled/Short Shelf Life Award in association with Eagle Consumables Cabernet Foods Ltd Everton Dry Aged Beef Wellington
Dry Award in association with Palmerston North City Council Proper Crisps Kumara Chipotle & Garlic Nelson
Frozen Award in association with FoodHQ Leader Products Jalapeño Cheese Bites Auckland
James & Wells Business Innovation Award Original Foods Baking Co Christchurch
The FoodBowl Novel Food or Beverage Award Otago Locusts Locusts Otago
Massey University Health and Wellness Award Springbrook Foods No Nut Butter – Crunchy Blenheim
MPI Food Safety Culture Award The Pure Food Co Auckland
MPI Primary Sector Products Award T&G Global Ltd Lotatoes Potatoes Auckland
NZTE Export Innovation Award Spring Sheep Milk Co Auckland
Massey University Supreme Award Spring Sheep Milk Co Auckland