Residents across Ohio now have the opportunity to transform their food product dream into a reality with the Ohio Signature Food Contest, running now through June 22, 2017.

Sponsored by the Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), the contest will showcase new, innovative products from across the state.

“Our experience and industry feedback indicates an increasing desire for local foods by both consumers and retailers,” stated Rebecca A. Singer, president and CEO, CIFT.  “This contest serves as a platform to help fill that appetite for ‘local’ in an innovative and creative way while assisting in launching the next signature food item for Ohio.”

The economic benefit from a food manufacturing company can be significant based on the number of people employed, the increased income potential realized by a restaurant advancing a “signature item” consumers recognize, and the trained base of resources already available within the region.

Entering is simple and quick.  Contestants complete an online form outlining the basic details of their food product, and food industry experts will judge each based on the viability of the product, commercialization potential, business strategy, marketability and overall appeal to the marketplace.  Emphasis is placed on products integrating Ohio ingredients when possible.  Finalists will then be invited to present their business concept and food product to a panel of judges.

The Ohio Signature Food Contest winner will be announced during a special ceremony in late July at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, Ohio.

Following the announcement, the winner will receive technical and business development assistance to help advance a product to the marketplace, as well as production of product to be used for consumer feedback.

Production will be available at the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen in Bowling Green, Ohio, a nonprofit commercial facility that educates and advises new and growing businesses, provides access to a commercially-licensed kitchen, networking opportunities with other similar entities, and technical assistance.

Products do not need to be fully designed or ready for market, rather an ability to communicate a specific vision.  The technical assistance aspect of the award will provide guidance toward a finished product.

Due to the collaboration with OFBF, increased awareness of this opportunity will be shared with their network.  Consideration of membership is encouraged based on the mutual interest in the advancement of local food products.

Click here to enter!  Deadline to submit the completed application is Thursday, June 22, 2017 (one product per applicant).  Contact 419-535-6000, ext. 117 for more information.