How much attention do you pay to food awards?

The shelves in large supermarkets carry dizzying arrays of products. The hot sauce selection at the modestly-sized grocery store in my medium sized town takes up several feet of shelf space containing dozens of varieties, and the jams and preserves span an even larger area. Trying to decide which item to buy can be a time-consuming exercise. To simplify things, you might decide to on a product because its label proudly displays the logo from an awards organization. But just how much can you trust these awards? That is one of the questions that Max Fletcher asks in a recent Vittles article.

Fletcher focuses on the Great Taste awards, started in the 1990s by a company called the Guild of Fine Food. The Guild was created to counteract the decline in the number of independent food retailers that occurred following the introduction of low-cost stores like Aldi and Lidl into the UK. Fletcher wonders: “Naming an award Great Taste of course begs the question: According to who? There is no way of knowing exactly whose taste is being privileged: unlike the International Taste Institute, the Guild does not publish a list of its ‘jury’”.

Producers take both sides of the issue. On the one hand, an award like this can bring recognition to a well-deserved product. But on the other hand, according to Anthony Heard, the founder of London-based Cypriot cheese producer Kupros Dairy, ‘They’re all just another form of narrow-visioned gatekeeping built on corporatisation that tend to prevent creativity, increase entry levels and exclude those who don’t interface.’ How much stock do you put on award labels on the products you purchase?

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  • tmjellicoe  on  January 17, 2022

    Not much. I pay more attention to labels that say “made locally”, or at least in my province (or former province)

  • Fyretigger  on  January 17, 2022

    I take a look at cookbooks I might not otherwise look at, if they have the James Beard Book Award sticker on them.

    I pay attention to award winners in spirits competitions (particularly the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which I’ve found reliable), when I am looking for something new in one of the categories I drink.

    When it comes to food products, award winners seem to be more more public favorites than anything else, which tends to make them fairly middling (non-offensive to the greatest number) products, so I ignore them.

  • KatieK1  on  January 17, 2022

    Like Fyretigger, I notice book awards and they influence some of my purchases. I also consider at recommendations of food writers I trust.

  • rollyridge  on  January 17, 2022

    I pay no attention to these at all. As stated in the text, ‘According to who?’. To me this is just another advertising gimick.

    That said, if a cookbook author or chef I trust makes a recommendation I go out of my way to find it.

  • FuzzyChef  on  January 18, 2022

    Not at all; the only reason I know who win any is because of this blog.

  • lean1  on  January 18, 2022

    If it’s from the Specialty food association I trust it.

  • lkgrover  on  January 18, 2022

    I look at awards for books. However, reviews are more valuable. (Thank you for all the excellent reviews, Jenny! And thanks to all the EYB members who add recipe comments; it helps give a sense of the book. ) For other products, I value locally-produced (both in my home state, and local products when I am traveling).

  • mjes  on  January 19, 2022

    I am aware of book awards, cheese awards, and a few wine awards. In each case, the awards cause me to consider a new producer or a new product from a known producer. But I prefer to taste awards winners in a tasting environment rather than having to purchase an unknown product.

  • Rinshin  on  January 19, 2022

    As an avid wine drinker, the only number I pay attention to are wine points given and under my price comfort zone for special occasion or everyday wine consumption.

  • leilx  on  January 19, 2022

    Very little for food. I look for organic and local first and then move on from there. Books are different. Awards can be meaningful there, especially when you know who the jury is, as is common on books.

  • leilx  on  January 19, 2022

    I should say I do take note of cooks illustrated’s reviews but they don’t give awards. If I can’t get something local and organic then I might look for the cooks illustrated recommendation.

  • JamieLondonK  on  January 21, 2022

    I pay attention to what my favorite food writers have to offer. However, there are some competitions such as the James Beard book awards and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition that have proved themselves credible in my experience

  • TeresaRenee  on  January 21, 2022

    I don’t look at food awards. I do pay attention to some book awards and their short lists to narrow down options.

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