THE Perth Royal Food Awards will kick off this Friday, June 10, with the beer category being the first competition.
Dating back more than 150 years, the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia (RASWA) has continued on with the tradition of the awards, which have expanded over the years with new categories released based on consumer and industry trends.
The awards are an opportunity for WA food and beverage producers to showcase and benchmark their products against their peers, with entrants awarded gold, silver and bronze medals dependent on the judges evaluation.
Award winners are able to promote their medals on their retail packaging, online branding and through general promotions.
This year the Perth Royal Food Award categories consist of beer, chocolate, dairy, bread and pastry, distillery, wine, small goods and branded meats, with the wine and beer categories receiving the most entries each year due to the larger size of both industries.
Perth Royal Food Awards support co-ordinator Jen Farquhar said the awards played an important role in helping to foster a connection between the State's agricultural producers and consumers.
"The idea of the awards is to raise the profiles of suppliers and producers and to do that across both the smaller, individual, local companies, as well as the bigger operators, and encourage that recognition of the excellent work going on in WA," Ms Farquhar said.
"The awards are based strongly on integrity and we reward our entrants against a strict criteria so we find the best of the best in the different sectors."
Ms Farquhar said there wasn't only a strict judging criteria for the entrants in the various categories, but also for the selection of the judges themselves.
Some of the categories have a chief judge who is accompanied by three or four other judges and usually two associate judges, who are in a training role.
"Because they are still learning, the associate judges' scores don't count towards the competition, but they are there to sit alongside the others to learn the processes and also to get their palates where they need to be," Ms Farquhar said.
"Once they've completed two or three years as associate judges, they can then move up the judging ladder."
With each judge required to be knowledgeable and well recognised in their respective industries, Ms Farquhar said a lot of background work also went into making sure none of them were judging their own product and each category was co-ordinated correctly.
The overall winners of the beer awards are given 'trophies', while the overall winners of the wine awards are named 'champions'.
The chief judge for the wine category is Rob Diletti, while the chief judge for the dairy category is Ros Garstone.
This Friday will be the last year that Will Irving, a renowned figure in the beer industry, will be chief judge for the category, following a three-year tenure.
Highlighting the proliferation of craft breweries popping up around the State, the beer category received a record number of entries this year.
Ms Farquhar said it was important that the State's food and beverage producers "celebrated their wins" and supported and encouraged one another to do the best job possible through some healthy competition.
"Whether you're a big or small producer, you're still able to enter and be rewarded for your hard work," Ms Farquhar said.
Judging of each section is closed to the public, with the overall category winners to be announced on the Perth Royal Food Awards website.
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