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PLMA turns spotlight on private-brand innovation

2019 Salute to Excellence Award winners span retail grocery spectrum

The influx of new store-brand products shows that grocery retailers know what motivates consumers to buy, the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) said in announcing the winners of its 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards.

This year, the annual awards recognized 44 food and 23 nonfood products, spanning segments from gourmet and indulgence, healthy eating, plant-based, sustainably sourced and organics on the food side to free-from, eco-friendly, health and beauty, and household on the nonfood side.

Overall, more than 750 store-brand products were submitted by 62 U.S. and Canadian retailers for the 2019 awards, PLMA said. The products were assessed by eight panels of industry professionals and consumers for product innovation, packaging, appearance, taste or performance, and value for money.

Winning retailers included companies in supermarket (national and regional), deep-discount grocery, mass merchant, warehouse club, convenience store, drugstore, specialty grocery, dollar store and online grocery channels.

Kroger_Simple_TruthQuinoa.pngThe New York-based trade association noted that the honored products cater to the latest consumer trends, such as Kroger Simple Truth Organic Southwest Style Quinoa, Thrive Market non-GMO Almond Butter, Whole Foods Markets 365 Everyday Value Organic Almond Chocolate Almondmilk, Lidl Preferred Selection Fair Trade Dark Chocolate with Chili, Boxed Prince & Spring Organic Applesauce Pouches and SE Grocers Naturally Better Organic Gluten Free Caramel Crunch Ice Cream.

According to PLMA President Brian Sharoff, retailers are driving store-brand innovation — in both products and packaging — to lure and retain shoppers.

“This year’s Salute to Excellence Awards submissions continue to reflect the shift away from national brands as consumers gravitate to more unique and affordable products from the stores they know and trust,” Sharoff said in a statement.

a-Price_Chopper_PICS_Chocolate_Lovers_Single_Cup_Coffee.PNG copy.pngFor example, award-winners in healthy eating included Dollar General’s Good & Smart Dried Apricots and Save-A-Lot’s Portside Seafood Co Lemon & Pepper Light Tuna Pouch. Gourmet-inspired products also continue to be a key trend, with products such as Wakefern Food Corp.’s ShopRite Trading Company Imported from Italy Basilico Genovese DOP Pesto, Walmart’s Marketside Lobster Bisque, Ahold Delhaize USA/Retail Business Services’ Limited Time Originals Limoncello Inspired Granola, 7-Eleven’s 7-Select French Macarons and Price Chopper’s PICS Chocolate Lovers Single Cup Coffee Assortment garnering awards.

Personal care was a highlight in nonfood categories. PLMA said winning products included appealing fragrances and flavors, such as Target’s Goodfellow & Co Moroccan Mint & Cedar Beard Oil for men and Walmart’s Equate Kids 3-in-1 Watermelon Shampoo Conditioner & Body Wash. Others focused on clean ingredients, including Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Unscented Shea Butter, Boxed Prince & Spring Paraben-Free Makeup Remover Towelettes, and Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Cavity Fighting & Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste.

Convenience and eye-catching packaging, too, were an emphasis among the honored nonfood products. Examples include CVS’ Beauty 360 On-the-Go Blender and Aldi’s Lacura Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen. Eco-friendly offerings were big winners in household product segments, such as Brandless’ Cucumber Mint Refillable Glass Cleaner Starter Kit, Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bee & Willow Home Rosemary & Mint Dish Soap, and Albertsons’ Open Nature Compostable Assorted Utensils.

Other retailers winning awards included BJ’s Wholesale Club, Raley’s, Metro, Sobeys, Hy-Vee, H-E-B, Weis Markets, Wegmans Food Market, Publix Super Markets, Southeastern Grocers, Meijer, Schnuck Market, Harris Teeter and Trader Joe’s.

“Today’s retailers have a good pulse on consumer trends in their particular markets, and their store brands are better-positioned than the national brands are to satisfy that shopper’s appetite for quality products,” said Sharoff.

All of the winning products will be showcased at the PLMA 2019 Private Label Trade Show, being held Nov. 17 to 19 at the Rosemont Convention Center near Chicago. North America’s largest private-label trade show, the event is expected to draw more than 11,000 attendees, including retail and wholesale buyers, visitors and exhibitor staff, PLMA said.

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