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Our ‘Summer of Charcuterie’ Review 2020

Just before we start to unveil the outcome of our ‘summer of Charcuterie’ Review for 2020 we felt it was worth explaining some points in advance.

It has been such a great process, we have to thank, not only our kind sponsors, but also the wonderful panelists who all threw themselves into what was the most comprehensive review of British made charcuterie ever undertaken. People from all across the food industry; chefs, restaurateurs, writers, marketing executives, butchers, food bloggers; a real cross ssec tin of enthusiasts all gave their time over the last few months to taste, share and consider a huge variety of products all supplied by another group we would like to thank – the makers.

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, but for this event it really started with the collapse of first the Cannon & Cannon Awards which many producers (including some of our The Charcuterie Board members) had already entered, followed soon by the liquidation of the company itself. We felt there was something we should try and do, something to help those who had expected to have their work entered and judged and found themselves left with nothing.

Our idea was very much a spur of the moment thing, but as it took shape we realised we had a great chance to find an alternative approach to the usual ‘Awards’ and perhaps look deeper, take a snapshot of the industry, get feedback on every aspect of the products from a consumer perspective, build a fascinating picture with data that would reveal so many different details, some that we can give back to makers, some we can highlight to the public and some that we can use to start to build a great catalogue of progress, starting in 2020 and which we will continue with for the years to come.

A review, not an Awards.

First we must stress this was a wholesale review of products. They were not ‘judged’ as they would have been in an awards scheme. We were not looking at them critically as examples of their type or style, we were simply looking at them for what they were – packaging, branding, smell, texture and ultimately taste – were they delicious? would you buy them? would you recommend them to your friends? if so, why? – that’s all that really mattered to our reviewers, because that’s all that really matters to most consumers.

This might seem a minor difference but it involves a dramatically different approach and has certainly thrown up some surprising and interesting results!

Comments, preference rankings and favourites.

These were the features of our process. We asked our review panel to simply, clearly and entirely subjectively indicate what they thought of each product in detailed comments on its presentation (including packaging) its appearance, feel and taste. We encouraged them to share with friends, discuss as a group and enjoy the meats, just as you would normally. We then asked them to rank them in order of preference drawn from their thoughts and views, as set out in the comments, and finally indicate a particular favourite. Not a ‘best’, not on ‘technical merit’, not as the perfect example of x, y or z but just the one they enjoyed the most.

Fascinatingly, this process illustrated just how diverse peoples tastes can be, and the reasons behind these preferences. As an example we ended up with 29 different favourite products being chosen by our panelists from 13 different producers!

Results.

We will be sharing the results from tomorrow and will be highlighting those specific products that were best liked across the board (being those top 10 ranked most highly by the largest number of reviewers in each category), we will set out the ‘favourites’ that were chosen and why and we will also look at the producers whose various products were liked the most, showing consistency and wide ranging appeal as well as highlight some really innovative or unexpected treats that came, out of nowhere, to feature in the event.

Later we will also be providing panelists comments, feedback and full producer results information directly to all entrants.

The ‘Ultimate Charcuterie Board 2020’.

We will then layout a range of products which, by combining some those that were chosen as specific favourites along with the best average rankings, to unveil the ‘panels selection’ a Charcuterie Board that features the hits of our ‘Summer of Charcuterie 2020’