National Restaurant Association Announces 2012 Food and Beverage Product Innovations Awards

The National Restaurant Association has announced the recipients of the 2012 Food and Beverage Product Innovations Awards, which this year recognizes consumable products that deliver significant restaurant operator benefits ranging from new flavor concepts to better-for-you nutritional profiles and operator flexibility. The awardees have been selected by an independent panel of experts who represent a broad variety of both commercial and non-commercial segments.

Award recipients will be showcased in the exclusive Food and Beverage Products Innovations Gallery on the exhibit floor at the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, set for its new dates May 5-8 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

“Our esteemed panel of judges selected groundbreaking food and beverage products that customers will soon be buzzing about,” said Jack Crawford Convention Chair for NRA Show 2012 and President and CEO of Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative, LLC. “These customer-centric standouts will give NRA Show attendees plenty to think about and act on while they tour this year’s exhibit floor. As the largest restaurant and hospitality trade show in the United States, the NRA Show is the only place where foodservice professionals can find all the memory-making foods and beverages, trends and insights they need to stay on top.”

The 2012 Food and Beverage Product Innovations Award recipients are:

Cavendish Farms – Tempura Battered Extreme Beans
Cavendish Farms® has taken long Kentucky Flat beans pickled in a blend of spices and added their signature crispy tempura coating. It’s a spicy tasty snack that offers superb plate appeal and excitement to any menu.

ConAgra Foodservice – Angela Mia NSA Crushed Tomatoes
This is the only no-salt-added crushed tomato product on the market today—it delivers fresh tomato flavor (100% California), aroma and color with only 14% of the sodium in traditional crushed tomatoes.

ConAgra Foodservice – The Max Fit for Kids Plus MaxSnax BBQ Chicken
These mini handheld triangles of 51% whole-grain quesadilla dough are loaded with chunks of white-meat chicken, a blend of cheeses and a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce and it meets new National School Lunch standards.

Cook Natural Products- Mara’s Pasta
The only 100% whole wheat pasta made from Maragrain™. Grown by U.S. family farmers and designed to please the palate of the most finicky child. Each two-ounce serving contains seven grams of dietary fiber and eight grams of protein.

Copa di Vino – Copa di Vino Wine (Copa!)
First wine by the glass bottled directly into a recyclable plastic cup that allows an operator to conveniently serve wine anywhere without the need to uncork and pour—reduces costs and waste.

HJ Heinz Company – 3-in-1 Soup, Sauce or Dip
This is a unique frozen product that allows an operator to create three menu items by simply changing the preparation. Reconstitute with water for a soup, milk for a sauce or sour cream for a dip.

HMC Farms – Grape Escape
Fresh de-stemmed grapes washed and ready to eat. Packed in single serve two-ounce or three-ounce bags. Grape Escape meets the challenge of profitably serving healthy fresh fruit snacks year round. No preservatives or additives and an 18-day shelf life.

HomeFree LLC – Gluten Free Vanilla Mini Cookies
These cookies are a good source of whole grains (9 g), certified organic (70%), heart healthy, Kosher pareve, vegan and Non-GMO Project Verified. They are free of the top eight allergens and certified gluten-free.

Jennie – O Turkey Store – Precooked Turkey Burger
Developed specifically for K-12 foodservice, this product gives students an amazing burger experience with all the nutritional benefits of turkey. Most importantly, for kids and schools alike, it delivers on taste,texture, appearance and product performance.

YES Pack—which stands for yield, ease, sustainability—is Kraft Foods’ new revolutionary package that helps operators manage costs and optimize back-of-house efficiencies. The innovative design of YES Pack allows for 99% dressing yield, precision pouring and reduced solid waste.

Mighty Leaf Tea – Mfusions
Mfusions is a creative selection of fresh tea, fruit and herb-based drinks, packaged to go. The customer interactively activates the drink by conveniently releasing agave-sweetened herbal/fruit blend into tea within a self-contained cup, offering a portable and dazzling beverage experience.

STOUFFER’S® Parmesan Risotto
Supremely versatile, ready to heat and serve as-is or to customize with your signature additions. Authentic 100% Arborio rice, rich Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, onions, garlic, and touches of extra virgin olive oil, chicken broth, cream and butter.

Oregon Seafoods – Chef’s Brand Pacific Caught Wild Albacore
First U.S. producer of once-cooked albacore tuna in a pouch from U.S.-caught, sustainable fish with a significantly improved nutritional profile and better quality versus canned tuna. No fillers, no preservatives, no BPA and a better carbon footprint.

SASASWEETS – SasaPops brand artisan frozen pops
SasaPops Fruit Bars are pure—only fruit, water and organic sugar. SasaPops Dessert Bars are the first pops with dessert inclusions, such as cake chunks in decadent real cream bases. Also available in a MiniPops size perfect for children.

Simpli – Simpli OatShakes
This is the only solely oat-based product that is dairy-free and also all natural, 100% vegan, soy-free, and non-GMO. Most importantly, it tastes great.

Snyder’s Lance – Lance 51% Whole Grain Saltines
The first saltine made with 51% whole grain that meets K-12 school lunch requirements.

Unilever Food Solutions- Lipton Zero Calorie Fresh Brewed Sweet Tea
An innovative range of zero-calorie fresh-brewed sweet teas that deliver refreshment and convenience along with single-step, consistent brewing for operators at savings versus sugar sweetening—available in three on-trend flavors.

White Toque – Vegetable Glacis
All-natural vegetable concentrates for enhancing soups, sauces, dressings and dips. The first frozen line available in the US in a convenient squeeze bottle with flavors including Red Beet, Onion, Carrot, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper and Tomato Confit.

The annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2012 will be held at its new dates May 5-8, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event attracts 58,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcases the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues and other growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show Web site, and find us on Twitter @NRAShow, Facebook, YouTube and our widely read blog Floored!

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 970,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of nearly 13 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 5-8, 2012, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart, including the National ProStart Invitational April 27-29, 2012, in Baltimore, Md.); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.