Texas supermarket chain H-E-B has announced the winners of its 2021 Quest for Texas Best, a competition that showcases talented small businesses across the state. After narrowing the competition down to 20 finalists, four winners were announced at the San Antonio Food Bank on Aug. 25 and 26. In the past, the competition has resulted in local businesses supplying H-E-B with its private label products.
“Each year we are amazed by what Texans bring to this competition,” said James Harris, director of diversity & inclusion and supplier diversity at H-E-B. “Despite the disruption of COVID-19, these entrepreneurs demonstrated creativity, determination and perseverance in pursuit of growing their businesses. H-E-B is thrilled to shine light on these four outstanding businesses and their Texan-made products that will add to the diversity of products on our shelves and to our roster of suppliers.”
The 2021 Quest for Texas Best competition drew more than 1,200 product entries from cities and towns across the state. Through two qualifying rounds, submissions were judged by H-E-B executive staff on taste and flavor, customer appeal, value, uniqueness, market potential and differentiation from current products at most H-E-B stores.
The four winners received a combined $70,000 in prizes and additions to H-E-B’s inventory in the eighth annual competition.
Kelli Watts of Dallas won the grand prize of $25,000 for her French macarons made by Savor Pâtisserie, the business she founded in 2016. The macarons are under 100 calories and available in a number of different flavors like vanilla, lemon, pistachio, s’mores and more.
Felo and Stephanie Martinez of Santa Elana won the first place prize of $20,000 for the Texas Wagyu ground beef made by 2F Akaushi Beef. The Martinez family has been breeding and raising cattle since 1984. The 80/20 Wagyu beef is offered to restaurants and households.
Arpit and Elora Bhopalkar of Austin won the second place prize of $15,000 for enhanced sugar cane water from their brand Bhoomi. The cold-pressed cane water drinks are sustainably packaged and come in flavors like ginger, turmeric, and moringa.
Finally, Tom Landis and Coleman Jones of Dallas took home the third place prize of $10,000 of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream’s Dr. Pepper chocolate chip ice cream. The business is known for its ice cream, as well as hiring and training people with Down Syndrome and autism.
Since launching the contest in 2014, H-E-B has reviewed more than 4,500 samples of Texan-made food and beverages, deemed more than 750 unique products worthy of shelf placement, and awarded nearly $1 million in prize money, marketing, supplemental support, and mentoring.