Grand prizes go to Viciunai Group and Kingfish Zeeland for 2019 Seafood Excellence Global Awards

Belgium’s Viciunai Group and Kingfish Zeeland BV of The Netherlands took top honors at the 2019 Seafood Excellence Global awards at Seafood Expo Global, the world’s largest seafood trade event.

The competition awarded Viciunai Group with the Best Retail Product title for its Surimi Noodles Wok Style, while Kingfish Zeeland BV won the grand prize in the Best HORECA (hotel/restaurant/catering) Product category for its Dutch Yellowtail. Selected from a field of 37 finalists, the winners of this year’s Seafood Excellence Global awards were announced during a special ceremony on the evening of Tuesday, 7 May, to wrap up the first day of the exposition.

Viciunai Group’s Surimi Noodles Wok Style offers a meal of surimi noodles, Chinese vegetables, and a Korean glaze sauce packed conveniently in a to-go style box. The noodles are made from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified Alaska pollock, Pacific whiting, or hoki surimi, and have a neutral flavor. The competition judges noted the great taste of the product, as well as its keen intuition when it comes to current seafood market trends such as preferences for high protein/low carbohydrate and gluten-free diets, clean label surimi seafood, sustainability certifications, and ready-meals on the go.

Kingfish Zeeland BV secured the leading prize for Best HORECA (hotel/restaurant/catering) Product for its Dutch Yellowtail (yellowtail is also known as hiramasa or kingfish) that is farmed using a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) without antibiotics and is certified by both the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). A premium fish, it can be served raw in sashimi and sushi, as well as grilled or smoked as a sustainable alternative to tuna and swordfish. The product’s rich flavor and high quality were predominant factors that contributed to the judges’ decision to award it top marks.

"Our first assumption when we started up was that our yellowtail would be for the sushi and sashimi market, but as soon as we started working with chefs, we got the feedback that was the fish more like a tuna as far as its versatility," Kingfish Zeeland CEO Ohad Maiman told SeafoodSource. "You can serve our yellowtail not only raw but grilled, seared, or cooked through a variety of other techniques. This may offend sushi chefs in Japan, but we are very happy with wider use."

The Seafood Excellence Global finalists were judged on taste and overall eating experience, packaging, marketability, convenience, nutritional value, and innovation. The judges’ scores were verified by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. The judges for the 2019 Seafood Excellence Global competition were Debby Verheyen, seafood and frozen food coordinator for Ahold Delhaize in Belgium; Damien Castagnier, buyer of fruits, vegetables, and seafood for Monoprix in France; Lubomir Brandejs, seafood category manager for Globus in the Czech Republic; Luca Grosoli, food buyer for Sodexo in Italy; and Arnaud Lasplaces, fish and seafood manager for Classic Fine Foods in Hong Kong. Verheyen served as chair of the jury.

In addition to the grand prizes, the Seafood Excellence Global awards judges also recognized four more products with special awards.

The special award for Health and Nutrition was given to GlobeXplore - Algae of France for its Guacamole with Fresh Spirulina. The product is made with fresh spirulina in a ready-to-go format and has high levels of vitamin B12, iron, and protein, which GlobeXplore preserves by treating the product using high pressure processing (HPP). The spirulina also provides rich umami flavor and a beautiful natural green color.

Golden Fresh Sdn Bhd of Malaysia earned the special award for Convenience for its Prawn in Hor Mok Thai Coconut Sauce, which includes prawns and sauce packed in individual portion bags that can be quickly microwaved without thawing and served with zero waste. The product allows any foodservice operation to serve authentic Thai flavors with little labor.

St. James Smokehouse (Scotland) Ltd. of the United Kingdom was presented the Seafood Excellence Global special award for Retail Packaging for its Saint Pure Salmon, which features fresh Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)-certified sushi grade Atlantic salmon that is cured with sea salt and brown sugar and smoked over Florida orange and grapefruit wood, affording it a light fruity smoke profile, the contest judges said. For added convenience the product is sliced vertically sashimi-style, and comes in a contemporary black package with a soft touch finish and attractive and informative infographics designed to attract a younger demographic.

The special award for Innovation was also given to Viciunai Group for its Surimi Noodles Wok Style. The product’s ready-meal approach “introduces a new category of seafood products in a smart package that provides convenience for people on the go,” the contest judges said. Phosphate-free, MSC-certified surimi noodles are packed separately from the Korean glaze within the product courtesy of a two-tiered cup, allowing consumers to microwave and combine the elements of the meal in any fashion they see fit.

Due to a lack of category entries, the Seafood Excellence Award for Best Seafood Product Line was not presented this year. The winners of the 2019 Seafood Excellence Global awards were chosen from a field of 37 finalists representing 12 countries. The winners and finalists are on display in Hall 8, Stand #4430, at Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global, which runs now through Thursday, 9 May.


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