H-E-B has announced that applications are being accepted for the 10th Annual Quest for Texas Best. It's an open call for locally owned, small food, beverage and general merchandise makers in Texans.
Just another promotion, you think? We asked Brent Reaves of Smokey John's about winning third place last year for a barbecue rub, which included a $10,000 prize and shelf space.
"We're in the Frisco and Plano locations and sales are going pretty good," Reaves says. "But we've also been going into the stores and doing samples, and that is ridiculous. One Saturday we sold 11 cases of rub in two hours."
Reaves also says that H-E-B has become a mentor of sorts for him and his family-run business. H-E-B has invited him to groundbreaking ceremonies, and he's learning invaluable lessons on how to run a business.
Additionally, Reaves says the response to his company's samples at the stores has been so great that he's considering locating the next Smokey John's in the Frisco or Plano area.
The good news is, you could be the next Smokey John's. In a way, anyway. In your own way. Texas-based companies are invited to compete for a combined amount of $70,000 in cash prizes and the chance to place their products on H-E-B shelves across the state. Submissions will be accepted until April 6 at 4:59 p.m.
H-E-B started this Quest for Texas Best in 2014 and has since discovered more than 960 unique products throughout the Lone Star State. Submissions "must be a finished food or beverage fit for human consumption and not a recipe or product concept." General merchandise products are also eligible.
Applicants are required to submit a two-minute video that explains how and where the product is made, provides images of the product, talks about why H-E-B should select their product as the best in Texas and anything else applicants think will help them be considered as a finalist.
Panel judges will determine the top four winning products and award $25,000 to the grand prize winner, the title of “Texas Best” and placement on store shelves. The first-place winner gets $20,000; second place gets $15,000 and third place goes home with $10,000. (Last year, there were two third-place winners who each got $10,000 because H-E-B is just nice like that).
Other winners last year included Annie Leal of I Love Chamoy Salsa, a sugar-free Mexican sauce brand, and Ashley Cameron of Love and Cookies, a frozen cookie dough brand.
To prepare for Quest, participants can visit with H-E-B Sourcing and Supplier Diversity leaders about product development and best practices for submitting their products during special virtual information sessions. Sessions will take place March 8 and 9 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and March 16 and 30 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
After entries have been evaluated, H-E-B’s Business Development Managers will select the top applicants to present their products to a panel of judges selected by H-E-B on August 9 at Fair Park in Dallas.