The annual FoodTalk Awards 2018 finalists have been announced following the first round of judging. The judges have chosen the Gold Award winners, who will have the chance to showcase their winning products at the awards show.

There are several categories covering food, drink, technology and packaging, including the All in the Taste Award (AITTA), the Clean Eating Award (CEA), the Free-From Award, and the Smart Tech/Kitchen Award.

The ‘weirdest’ food or drink-related product will be highlighted in the Presenters’ Award (PA), and the most interesting food or drink-related product in the Impossible to Categorise Award  from the last year.

FoodTalk has received entries from more than 200 companies this year with the winners set to be announced at the Banking Hall in London, UK on 15 June. FoodTalk is a weekly podcast that discusses innovation and excellence in the UK food technology sector.

FoodTalk presenter and awards judge Sue Nelson said: “Getting this far is an amazing achievement because choosing the finalists was one of the hardest tasks I’ve had on any judging panel. Now, perhaps, the very toughest part is about to begin – honing our search on the eventual winners…The number and quality of entries was astounding, and the diversity of companies that will be represented at this year’s FoodTalk Awards is inspiring.”

Finalists in the AITTA category range prioritise taste, and entrants include gluten free brownies from Baked by Neelu, Fifth Dimension Chocolates’ soy caramel sauce, and banana ketchup manufactured by Rubies in the Rubble.

The CEA category covers healthy products from Hunter and Gather’s avocado oil mayonnaise, to Green Cola, and Eat First’s teriyaki tofu, all of which contain minimal, natural ingredients with no additives or preservatives.

Finalists in the PA category create unusual products, such as a 100% plant-based burger from The Vurger Co., The Chocolate Smiths’ cheese and cracker flavoured chocolate, and holy grass vodka from Dunnet Bay Distillers.

Nelson told Food Processing Technology: “The judges love these awards. We get exposure to those new and innovate products which haven’t yet made it into the mainstream. As well as celebrating the marvellous and downright unusual, we know it helps them get profile among buyers and last year the awards helped get some of these companies listings and in one case a slot on a television show.”