Graham Manson’s QB Crunchy Cheese has won the 2022 Foodstarter competition for the start-up category.
Judges have gone crackers for a cheese-based snack from a Nelson inventor, awarding it the top prize at a national competition.
QB’s Crunchy Cheese was announced as the winner of the 2022 FoodStarter competition start-up category on Monday.
The keto-friendly puffed cheese snack was invented by Nelson resident Graham Manson, and can be purchased in local markets and cinemas throughout the region.
For his win, Manson was awarded $70, 000 worth of prizes. He would receive mentoring and product advice from industry professionals, and see his product placed on shelves in 147 New World supermarkets around the country.
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When speaking to Stuff, Manson said his win was “just mind-blowing.”
“I’m overwhelmed, it hasn’t sunk in yet.”
On Monday, Manson and his partner Sonya Thomson flew up to Auckland to perform a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges. Manson then answered five minutes of questions about QB’s Snacks.
The five minutes of questions was tough, Manson said – with the trickiest question being where he saw QB’s in five years time.
Manson said he wanted to introduce other flavors to QB’s, as well as create other keto-friendly products.
A dream of his was to have QB’s supplied by Air NZ as a low-carb option on flights.
Manson said his win was “incredible,” and was a “really good opportunity” for him and Thompson to gain years of experience and knowledge within a short time.
For QB’s to win the start-up category was “beyond comprehension,” due to the high caliber of his competitors: Black Doris Ltd, No Rush, Oliver’s, and PARKERS Beverage Company.
“It was already so amazing to be in the finals and then to see the level of talent and innovation coming through from the other finalists.”
“A big thank you to New World and all the sponsors. It’s huge for us, it’s just amazing.”
Manson said the inspiration behind QB’s was to see if he could make a tasty, low carbohydrate snack that would work with his keto diet.
FoodStarter is an annual competition that aims to give aid and a platform to the best and most innovative New Zealand food products.
In the three years since FoodStarter’s inception, winners include Lilo Desserts and frozen smoothie company Kaitahi As One.