Austin’s consumer packaged goods industry is thriving, perhaps at an all-time high.
With businesses such as Lantana and Skinny Pop relocating their already established businesses here and small start-ups going huge — see Epic Provisions, High Brew Coffee — the Texas capital is a good place to run a food business. (Don’t forget Stubb’s BBQ Sauce and Sweet Leaf Tea, two of the biggest food brands to have started in Austin and then sold.)
There’s still plenty of room for growth, which is one of the reasons H-E-B continues to host it Quest for Texas Best competition to find the best food products in the state.
For the fifth year in a row, the San Antonio-based grocer has put out the call for entrepreneurs to submit their products to this contest. They’ve even made Super Bowl ads about it. Each year, they give away tens of thousands of dollars to the winning companies. Last year, the Dripping Springs-based Skull and Cakebones won the top prize of $25,000, and the Manor-based Tamale Addiction won second place and $15,000. (Teo Gelato won the grand prize in 2015, and in 2016, Texas Pie Company and Kitchun won grand prize and first place, respectively.)
Of more than 700 applicants this year, nine finalists in this year’s contest are from the Austin area. They’ll compete August 9 and 10 at the Central Texas Food Bank against 16 other food companies from around Texas for $70,000 in prize money and a spot on H-E-B shelves. The Central Texas businesses are Barbecue Wife, Pennymade, Afia Foods, Loving Libbie Memorial Foundation, Mmmpanadas, Pretty Thai, 38 Pecans, Tiny House Coffee in Buda and Sing and Shout Foods in Cedar Park.
“Over the past five years of this competition, we have tasted more than 2,700 of the most creative Texas-based food and beverages in pursuit of Texas’ very best, selecting 125 finalists since 2014,” James Harris, director of diversity and inclusion and supplier diversity at H-E-B, said in a release. “Each year keeps us on our toes with innovative products, and this year is no exception. We are proud to continue a program that gives small business owners the opportunity to share their pride and joy with H-E-B shoppers across the state.”
According to the release, the Quest for Texas Best is a signature program for H-E-B’s Primo Picks brand, and since its inception in 2014, the competition has yielded more than 432 new products on H-E-B’s grocery, bakery, deli and market shelves across the state.
Other finalists for this year include: 1885 Coffee Co., Bellefontaine, Bellville Meat Market, Bernard’s Game Day Foods, BIG Little Fudge, Cappadona Ranch, Chef Rey Inc., Collin Street Bakery, Deanan Gourmet Popcorn, Deep River Specialty Foods, Mad Hectic Foods, Mirth Soup, Nuts and Cows, Story of My Tea, Texas Black Gold Garlic, Tio Pelon’s Salsita.