Let's say you were asked to rate the supplier community on how well it's meeting the chief needs of retailers. That's a tough one to generalize, but say you were forced to give a grade between 1 and 10.
What, you said 6.43? Spot on!
That's actually the average grade a supplier-heavy group of respondents gave in our SN survey. That score leaves a lot of room for improvement, but it leads to my next point. We have a new roster of high-achieving supplier companies that can be used to raise everyone's game.
SN just announced the winners of its Supplier Leadership Awards . These are companies doing an excellent job meeting retailer needs in one of 16 attributes, ranging from sustainability to shopper insights. Our editors made the picks based on industry nominations.
In past years we presented supplier awards differently — by supermarket product category. However, this year we decided to break out of categories altogether. Why? Because increasingly trading partners are looking for best-in-class ideas that go beyond categories to stretch across the industry.
Here are a few of the suppliers and awards we showcased:
• Mars Chocolate North America , for Product Innovation, with efforts that are helping retailers such as H.E. Butt Grocery Co. build sales.
• Campbell Soup Co. , for Shopper Insights, with initiatives that helped Wal-Mart Stores advance its meal solutions business.
• Sara Lee and Procter & Gamble , for Cause Marketing, for a program to help provide educational equipment to public schools, in a partnership with Hy-Vee.
• Kellogg , for Unsaleables Reduction, in light of a collaborative effort with Harris Teeter that positively impacted the retailer.
Still another award, for Collaboration, underscored how supplier actions can impact multiple retailers. The winner, The Clorox Co. , was cited for varied efforts in everything from flu prevention to attracting Hispanic shoppers. It worked closely with trading partners such as Roundy's Supermarkets, Target Corp., Harris Teeter and Price Chopper.
Other manufacturers honored  in this year's awards included Ocean Mist Farms, ConAgra Foods Foundation, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Tyson Foods, General Mills, Seventh Generation, PepsiCo, The Dannon Co. and Kraft Foods.
In naming suppliers, SN's goal is more than to salute great efforts. We hope to spread the word about stellar initiatives so ideas and practices can be shared.
So let the sharing begin, across categories, companies and different retail formats.