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40+ Years on the Cutting Edge

Since 1972, the sofi Awards have honored the best in specialty food.

Today, sofi celebrates culinary creativity across America and around the globe. The 2016 Winners and Finalists were selected by a national panel of culinary experts who blind-tasted and evaluated a record-breaking 3,200 entries across 28 categories. These products have been selected as those that truly stand out and represent the best in the industry. Honorees are featured at the Fancy Food Shows, where they'll draw the attention of the media, industry accolades, and important new accounts.


What Winners & Finalists say about the sofi Awards

The sofi Awards are regarded by buyers and other vendors as the highest honor in our industry.

– Robin Béquet, Béquet Confections, 2011 Winner

Winning the trophy opened the floodgates. Sales increased by 100% by the fourth quarter.

– Amy Farges, Transatlantic Foods, 2011 Finalist

Since we won, our retail store footprint increased 740% in major markets with a 1200% increase in online sales.

– Reuben Canada, Jin+Ja, 2013 Winner

Sales have increased 50% since we won the gold!

- Vincent Kitirattragarn, Dang Foods, 2014 Winner

It pretty much jump-started our business to 100 stores in a little over a year.

– Michelle Lewis, Spoonable, 2012 Finalist

What Buyers say about the sofi Awards

Kroger carries over 100 sofi Winners and Finalists. These are the products that deliver excitement and quality to our customers.

– Mathis Martines, Strategy and Innovation, Kroger

We look to sofi Winners and Finalists because we know that they represent only the highest caliber of products.

– Alison Kunetka, Food Development, Williams-Sonoma

When evaluating new specialty foods to add to our tasting rooms, sofi Winners start at the top of the list—they are consistently in the top 10% of our bestselling specialty food items.

– Eric Larson, Director of Retail Strategy, Cooper’s hawk Winery & Restaurants

A sofi Award is a solid endorsement of a product’s excellence. Our sales team is able to present these products to our customers with confidence that they are of superior quality and on trend.

– Beth Haley, VP, Vendor Relations, DPI Specialty Food

The sofi Awards are always exciting times for us at Kings. We’re anxious to find out about the sofi Finalists and Winners to see what is already in our store and what we may have missed.

– Jeff Binder, VP Center Store, Kings Food Market



What's New

Entries to the sofi Awards reflect the breadth and diversity of the specialty food industry. Every eligible entry is carefully assessed by a panel of passionate and knowledgeable food professionals including chefs, culinary experts, academics, food writers, and category buyers.



Thanks to your feedback, we improved the competition to make the process more fair and transparent. Judging will take place strictly on a blind basis (without packing, pricing, or other identification), to ensure all entries are judged solely on taste and quality. Judges will only know the product type and its ingredient list.

Product SKUs that were sofi Winners in 2015 are not eligible to be entered again for the 2016 competition. This gives a brand-new crop of member products the chance to take home the gold!


Judging Criteria


70% Taste

Taste is judged by evaluating a product’s flavor, appearance, texture, and aroma, and how these qualities come together as a whole.

  • Flavor How pleasant are the taste and aftertaste of the product?
  • Appearance Is the product aesthetically appealing?
  • Texture How is the consistency and mouthfeel?
  • Aroma Does the aroma positively impact the overall experience?

30% Ingredient Quality

This is an evaluation of a product’s ingredients, with consideration given to the use of ingredients in creative ways.

  • Additives or Artificial Ingredients Are there any unnecessary additives or artificial ingredients in the product or involved in its manufacture?
  • Creativity Are there any unexpected ingredients being used, or are common ingredients being used in unexpected ways? Is the overall result a positive, creative experience?

Tasting Process

All products will be prepared, heated, or cooked according to producer’s instructions and presented to the judges for tasting. For example:

  • Marinade sauces and spice rubs will be used on a protein (e.g., chicken or tofu)
  • Dip and baking mixes will be made according to package instructions
  • Hot beverages will be served hot

Winners & Finalists Selection

A panel of culinary and category experts tastes and evaluates each entry in a blind tasting across two weeks in May at Specialty Food Association offices in New York. For the first time, the panel selects both the winners and finalists during the judging; in prior years, winners were selected by buyers at the Summer Fancy Food Show and announced at the show. 

The winners and finalists are determined using a scoring system based on taste and ingredient quality. Each judge scores each entry independently and the average score is then calculated. 

  • Winner selection: Within each of the 28 categories the entry that earns the highest score is named the winner.
  • Finalist selection: Each category has at minimum one finalist; the number of finalists is proportional to the number of entries in that category. The top 4% become finalists. 





When & How to Enter

The 2017 sofi Awards entries open on February 1st. Honorees will be announced on April 19th and sofi Awards celebrations will take place throughout the 2017 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. 


Shelf-Stable Product Entry Samples Accepted


Perishable Product Entry Samples Accepted


2017 Winners & Finalists Announced


Summer Fancy Food Show