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A mountain of ice cream - 308 entries - are being tasted and judged at Auckland's Food Bowl this week.
Among them are Queenstown's Patagonia Chocolates and Mrs Ferg Gelateria and Wanaka's Pure NZ, which last year won the Non Dairy Award with its blackcurrant and coconut gelato.
There are 13 different categories ice-cream makers can enter, ranging from the standard vanilla ice cream category to the open creative category, which was won last year by Deep South's Chip and Dip ice cream.
Founder of boutique gelato manufacturer Little Lato, Hannah Wood says the awards celebrate the best-of-the-best and the competition is always fierce because of the overall high quality of New Zealand-made ice cream, with its locally sourced dairy and other ingredients.
The ice cream is being judged by a panel of six, drawn from the food industry, led by Kay McMath who has been chief judge for more than 10 years.
During two days, they will taste 308 ice creams each using a blind-judging process and strict technical judging criteria. Ice creams are judged out of 100 on the key attributes of flavour (50 points), body and texture (40 points) and appearance (10 points).
Children from an Auckland holiday programme take the judging panel's place as judges of the ''Kids Choice'' category on Friday using a child-friendly version of the main judging criteria.
Gold medals are awarded to entries scoring 95-100 points and silver medals are awarded to entries scoring 90-94.9. The ice creams that score the highest in their category are awarded best in category and there are two supreme awards, one for large manufacturers and one for boutique manufacturers.
The winners will be announced during NZ Ice Cream Week next month, which culminates in Ice Cream Sundae on November 17, which the industry has proclaimed our national ice cream day.
''It's also a great chance to show support for local ice-cream makers, suppliers and communities across New Zealand who are involved in making our much-loved frozen treat,'' says Wood.
The awards and week are run by the NZ Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association, which is also holding its annual conference.
Fun facts and trends
- New Zealanders are the second-highest per capita consumers of ice cream in the world, having recently overtaken the United States.
- Kiwis consume about 26 litres of ice cream and related products per person, on average, each year. Almost $1 of every $44 spent on food by NZ households is on ice cream and other similar products.
- New Zealand exports about 11,000 tonnes of ice cream each year, at a value of about $62 million.
- Based on sales from 2017, New Zealand’s top three flavours of ice cream are:
- Hokey Pokey.