The origins of today’s Australian Food Awards, conducted by Melbourne Royal®, have a long and rich history beginning with the foundation of the Society in the 1870s when ’Dairy Produce’ were among the ‘Exhibits of Show’ in 1874 and included sections for Cheese, Salt Butter, Bacon and Hams, and Fresh Butter
By the 1930s, the agricultural produce exhibition sections of the annual Show had been expanded to include categories for ‘Fruits (fresh and preserved), Pickles and Sauces, and Drinks’; ‘Vegetables and Roots’; and ‘Preserved Meats, Bacon, Ham, Eggs and Honey’; as well as ‘Flour and Meals’, ‘Hay, Chaff and Silage’ and ‘Green Fodder’ – all under the banner of ‘Farm Produce’
Later that century, in 1990, the Royal Melbourne Show Produce Results and Awards included the results of the ‘National Wheat Competition’, which was run with the support of the Australian Barley Board and the Australian Wheat Board, among others, and encompassed sections for Oats, Barley, Oilseed (linseed, rapeseed, sunflower and safflower), and Grain Legume (chickpeas, lupins, peas, fava beans and lentils). Also published that year were the results of the National Cheese Show which included sections for Butter, Dried Milk Products, Yoghurt, and Cream/Dairy Desserts.
In 2008, Melbourne Royal (formerly The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria) further expanded the produce program to include the categories Confectionery and Extra Virgin Olive Oil and they became known as the Royal Melbourne Fine Food Awards (RMFFA). In the years that followed, and in response to increasing demand from the industry for benchmarking and promotion opportunities, the RMFFA underwent substantial expansion with the introduction of numerous new categories and classes, including in Branded Beef, Delicatessen Goods, and Preserves. The awards were again expanded in February 2013 to include an ‘Autumn’ program with the categories Pantry Goods, Pasta, Table Olives and Victoria’s first-ever Cider competition.
In 2016, building on the success of the RMFFA, the program evolved once more to include categories for Fresh Produce and Seafood and from that time become known as the Australian Food Awards (AFA). Today, the Australian Food Awards is one of Australia’s most well-revered food industry benchmarking opportunities and its medals and trophies among the most coveted.