Great Taste bursary tailored to root out disruptive UK startups

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Is your product ready to rock the world stage? Pic: GettyImages/victorplusb/loops7
Is your product ready to rock the world stage? Pic: GettyImages/victorplusb/loops7

Related tags Great Taste Accreditation The Guild of Fine Food startups bursary

The Guild of Fine Food has launched a new bursary that will see 50 micro F&B producers – including the world’s most innovative bakery and snack startups – punt their products to an expert panel of judges for Great Taste 2023 for free.

Great Taste is recognised as one of the world’s most trusted F&B accreditation scheme and is an opportunity for producers to get their products assessed by chefs, buyers, food writers and retailers.

To celebrate the scheme’s 30th​ anniversary, the Guild has created a bursary for startups that might find the entry fees and process prohibitive.

2023 entry costs

Guild of Fine Food members

  • Company turnover of less than £1m: £43 per product (+VAT)
  • Company turnover of £1m-£5m: £68 per product (+VAT)
  • Company turnover of more than £5m: £105 per product (+VAT)

General entry

  • Company turnover of less than £1m: £68 per product (+VAT)
  • Company turnover of £1m-£5m: £105 per product (+VAT)
  • Company turnover of more than £5m: £145 per product (+VAT)
  • Supermarket own label products: £270 per product (+VAT)

Nurturing innovation

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Pic: GettyImages

“We are proud to be celebrating the 30 years of Great Taste,”​ said John Farrand, MD of the Guild.

“We’ve always been about working with businesses across the industry and our activities have an ecosystem of scaled entry costs that mean our biggest entrants also support our smallest ones.

“It’s true, though, that the micro producers often need more help, especially with the current economic headwinds, and that is why we are excited to be launching the Great Taste Bursary.

“By helping fledging makers, we continue the great work that our team, our judges and the sector is doing to nurture start-ups and innovative new businesses. It will encourage and help the very smallest makers to enter, receive constructive feedback and, hopefully, receive affirmation that they are making top-notch food & drink.”

The bursary is aimed at micro producers who have never entered Great Taste before or have a new product that hasn’t been previously entered.

Successful applicants will be given the opportunity to put one new product in front of its judging panel, which comprises of Adrian Boswell, buyer at Selfridges, industry commentator and food entrepreneur Mallika Basu, and PR & marketing expert AJ Sharp.

“I’ve been judging Great Taste for over 10 years and understand the good it does to the wider food & drink sector,”​ said Boswell.

“It’s important for my buying role in the food hall to know what’s out there and who are the emerging and quality makers. Great Taste has always done that, but being involved in assessing applications to the bursary can only improve that market awareness and, more importantly, the initiative will encourage innovative producers to take part.”

Critical feedback

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Added Farrand, “If our bursary candidates go on to achieve an award, they will be able to display it on packaging and benefit from support and kudos which comes with a Great Taste award.

“If they are not successful, our rigorous judging process provides every entrant with impartial, honest feedback from industry experts. And that is incredibly valuable.”

Each year, over 2,300 artisan producers from the UK and across the globe enter their most prized products into Great Taste to receive the all-important judges’ feedback. Some go on to receive an award too, either 1-, 2-, or 3-star; the latter is the highest global accolade based entirely on taste.

Eligible micro producers must:

  • Be less than two years old
  • Have a turnover of less than £100,000
  • Only enter one product per business (that hasn’t been entered in Great Taste before)
  • Be commercially available in the UK

Entries to Great Taste 2023 open on 23 January, and bursary applications must be submitted before 7 February.

The products will go on to be judged alongside the other entries in March and June.

Great Taste is recognised by food lovers and retailers as a stamp of excellence, but values taste above all else. Every product is removed from its packaging so it cannot be identified, before undergoing a rigorous judging process, with comprehensive blind taste-testing of products over 90 days by a rotating panel of industry experts. A truly international competition, in 2022, 14,204 products were entered from 100 countries worldwide.

Results will be available as part of the overall Great Taste scheme on 1 August 2023.

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