Prepared Foods’ 19th Annual Spirit of Innovation Awards Recognizes Unique Contributions

Posted July 29, 2021 by Alyssa Stahr

You are what you eat was a more wholly true statement at this year’s virtual Spirit of Innovation Awards sponsored by Prepared Foods and Tastepoint. With a focus on five trends in particular, mood boosters, mental health, immunity, sustainability and transparency, this year’s recipients were perhaps more special than in the past, considering the innovation happening was also more “behind the scenes” than ever due to the pandemic.

“We wanted to see if innovation got locked down like everything else,” Mike Leonard, Prepared Foods’ Publisher, said. 

And, after more than 120 initial product submissions introduced from March 2020 through March 2021, the judging at Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations in Chicago was on — a testament to the fact that the industry didn’t slow during COVID. In fact, products were just as inspirational and exciting as in year’s past. Thirty-eight new products advanced to the second round for preparation and tasting in May at Charlie Baggs, evaluated by a panel of 10 industry judges. The 10-point judging scale included overall innovation, sensory performance and problem-solution story. 

Here are the award winners:

Editor’s Choice/Most Innovative: Jack & Annie’s Crispy Jack Nuggets

The Jackfruit Company, Boulder, Colo.

Annie Ryo, CEO and founder, said in the awards video that the first ingredient in these whole-fruit plant-based nuggets is always jackfruit.

“Others aren’t able to control quality like we can, owning the supply chain all the way back to the farm. [Our nuggets] replicate meat and deliver experiences just like meat that is actually a whole plant. Consumers can get excited about the impact they can have with their food choices.”

New Retail Food: Seemore Meats & Veggies La Dolce Beet-a Sausage

Sausage Queen LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The female owned and led company’s founder, Cara Nicoletti, is a fourth generation butcher. She became disillusioned with the amount of waste she was seeing in animal products, and started to think of ways to eat meat more sustainably. 

“I wanted to lessen the demand for meat to make it more responsible. I started sneaking vegetables in the meat, and it took off like crazy. It stretched the animals a bit further and got people to eat less meat.” 

Not being able to keep up with the demand, she found partners who treated both people and animals with dignity through the entire supply chain. The blended meat options, including the award winner, swaps sugar with fresh beets and is 100% carbon neutral sausage.

New Retail Beverage: Patch Organics Pumpkin Seed Milk

Patch Organics Inc., Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Patch Organics’ all organic and non-GMO Pumpkin Seed Milk was a standout with this year’s judges. There are 5.75 grams of protein in each serving, with 100% plant-based extracts. There are no nuts, soy, grains or dairy, and the milk is lactose-, gluten- and cholesterol-free

Foodservice Product/Front of House: Field Roast Signature Stadium Dog 

Greenleaf Foods, Elmhurst, Ill.

Goals of the company included finding a solution in a plant-based hot dog that mimicked both meat and the experience. They’re kosher and contain less sodium and fat than a traditional meat hot dog. As a nod to the beginning of the virtual awards, the company noted it is “absolutely committed to sustainability.”

Foodservice Product/Back of House: King & Prince Battered Cod

Company: King & Prince Seafood Corp., Brunswick, Ga.

One of the largest seafood companies in the United States, King & Prince Seafood’s handcut cod is never treated and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified from Alaskan waters. Relationships with fisheries and farming operations that are certified sustainable are a commitment that provide consumers with the traceability they are seeking. 

Alternative Channel Product: Aussie Select Lamb Pastrami

World Select Cuts LLC, Marietta, Ga.

Jaclyn Glatzer, managing partner, noted in the company video that Americans love lamb, but they don’t eat it as much as folks from around the world. However, in Australia it’s a go-to meat. Deli options have grown stagnant in America, according to the company, so creators of Aussie Select Lamb Pastrami felt it was time for a ready-to-eat lamb solution similar to deli turkey or chicken. It’s all-natural, with no hormones or antibiotics.

Visit for more information about the Spirit of Innovation Awards. 

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