Judges have selected Good Lolli’s product, Peach Martini Lollipop, as one of 36 finalists to compete in the second and final round of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ annual Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.

Narrowed from a field of nearly 140 products, the finalists will compete on April 4 at The Classic Center in Athens with an award ceremony to follow. The 2024 event is open to the public from 4 to 6 p.m.; the $20 admission includes samples from finalists in attendance and one drink ticket. Registration is now open.

“At our company, we take pride in crafting lollipops that stand out from the rest. What sets us apart is our commitment to using only natural food dyes to color our candies. Additionally, each lollipop contains dehydrated pieces of locally sourced Georgia-grown peaches, adding a burst of authentic flavor with every lick," says Kevin Eubanks, chief candy officer, Good Lolli.

The contest is the state’s proving ground for small, upstart food companies as well as established products looking for recognition or new markets. This year’s finalists represent all corners of the state and the best of Georgia’s diverse culinary heritage.

“The Flavor of Georgia contest allows the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) to engage and promote food entrepreneurs in Georgia,” said FST Department Head and Professor Manpreet Singh. “Experts from our department work with these food entrepreneurs in understanding food ingredients, product profiles and other key aspects of developing new products. Through this CAES Signature Event, the department and its (UGA Cooperative) Extension faculty provide a platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations in food.”

Judges for the final round of the contest will include food brokers, grocery buyers and other food product experts. Entries are evaluated by category based on Georgia connection, commercial appeal, taste, innovation, and market potential. Contestants will provide samples to judges while pitching their products in a three-minute presentation. Winners will be named for each category, the overall grand prize, and a people’s choice award, which will be chosen by event attendees.

Showcasing Georgia’s best

Flavor of Georgia is more than a contest; it helps promote and showcase the variety and success of food entrepreneurs in the state. Since 2007, more than 1,700 products have been entered into the contest, and participating businesses have experienced increased sales, business contacts, publicity and overall interest in their products.

Past finalists report that participation in the contest boosts their annual sales by about 20% on average. Taking into account multiplier effects, it is estimated that increased sales from participating in Flavor of Georgia contribute to more than $5.6 million in annual revenue for the Georgia economy, according to a follow-up survey of previous finalists and winners from 2015-2019.

The Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest is organized by the UGA CAES Department of Food Science and Technology and supported by presenting sponsor AGCO, as well as the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Grown, the CAES Alumni Association, Farm Credit Associations of Georgia and Corteva Agriscience. This event is a part of CAES Signature Events. These special events showcase outstanding faculty contributions, foster community and industry collaboration, and spotlight the college's impact on a global scale.

More information about the contest is available at flavorofgeorgia.caes.uga.edu and by following the contest on Facebook, X, or Instagram.