New Zealand's best pork, bacon and ham have been recognised at the industry's annual awards.
Farmers, butchers, retailers and industry leaders gathered at The Orange in Auckland last night for the 11th annual Pork, Bacon and Ham Awards.
The competition, which took place in July, provided more than 40 pork retailers from across the country with the chance to showcase their best and most innovative New Zealand-born and raised pork products.
Head judge and chef Glenn Curphey said this years' award winners were a testament to the professionalism and creativity of New Zealand butchers.
"There were some truly outstanding and original products – from nitrate free, coconut cured bacon, to bananarama dry cured bacon and even a pork bacon bomb."
The awards included more than 183 entries in nine different categories – including innovation and convenient pork, boneless and bone-in ham, as well as middle, dry cured, shoulder, streaky and middle eye bacon.
Among the winners announced last night were this year's supreme champions: Sam's Butchery for Streaky Maple Bacon in the Bacon category, Best Meats 2 for Dufty Ham in the Ham category, and Grey Lynn Butchers for Guanciale, or cured pork cheek in the Pork category.
Grey Lynn Butchers also won the supreme award for pork last year, and took home an additional three awards last night – including Gold for Innovative Pork, Silver for Boneless Ham and Silver for Convenient Pork.
Curphey, a NZQA qualified judge who has been involved in competitions both regionally and nationally, said it took a lot of thoughtful consideration to decide the winners this year.
"Each category panel consisted of at least one technical expert, one chef and one additional judge to ensure each entry was scrutinised from every angle – including technical skills, aesthetic and presentation, as well as flavour, texture and aroma," he said. "So the winners should be really proud of their achievements."
NZ Pork deputy chair Paul Bucknell said the board founded the awards to provide local retailers with the opportunity to showcase PigCare Accredited New Zealand pork products, and every year they'd gone from strength to strength.
"A big congratulations to everyone, and a huge thank you to our sponsors."
The awards were sponsored by Hally Labels, Pacific Flavours, Five Star Pork, Porkcorp and Freshpork NZ.