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PLMA_2021_Salute_to_Excellence_Awards-BJs_Wholesale_Club.jpg PLMA/BJ's Wholesale Club
BJ's Wholesale Club won five 2021 PLMA Salute to Excellence Awards, second only to Walmart's 12 awards.

PLMA unveils Salute to Excellence Award winners

Walmart, BJ’s take home most awards among 2021’s best new own-brand products

The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) has honored 38 retail and other companies with Salute to Excellence Awards for private-brand innovation.

New York-based PLMA said the 2021 Salute to Excellence Award winners were recognized for last year’s best new private-label products, spanning 79 food and nonfood categories. The list of winners came from across the food, drug and mass retail channel — including national and regional supermarkets, mass merchants, warehouse clubs, drugstore chains and dollar store chains — and included wholesalers/suppliers, convenience and specialty retailers, and agencies. 

A total of 52 North American retailers provided more than 770 products to be considered for the 2021 awards, which PLMA noted marks the highest number of submissions it has received for Salute to Excellence since its inception in 1986. Each product was evaluated for taste and sensory appeal, packaging, presentation and value for the money by a panel of professional and consumer judges.

Overall, 62 new food and beverage products earned Salute to Excellence awards in 56 categories, including segments such as meal preparation, food for the family, healthy eating, beverages, snacks, bakery and desserts, and dairy. Among nonfoods, 25 products were honored in 23 categories, covering in 12 health and beauty aids categories plus 11 categories for home and household, the latter including pet care. 


Albertsons Cos.' Signature Select Bar Mix Sweet & Spicy won for the best new private-label snack/trail mix. (Photo courtesy of Albertsons)


Walmart was the top winner, garnering 12 Salute to Excellence awards, including from its Sam’s Club chain. BJ’s Wholesale Club came in second, totaling five awards. Other leading winners included Albertsons Cos., Whole Foods Market, Metro, CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens with four awards apiece, followed by three-award winners Hy-Vee, Lidl U.S., Topco Associates, Price Chopper and Schnuck Markets.

Companies winning two awards included The Kroger Co., Aldi U.S., Smart & Final, Sobeys, Southeastern Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI+), Weis Markets and Thrive Market.


The Kroger Co.'s Kroger Hydro Go Caffeinated Water was recognized as the top new own-brand water product. (Photo courtesy of Kroger)


“The award winners exemplify how store brands go above-and-beyond consumer expectations,” PLMA President Peggy Davies said in a statement. “They represent exceptional quality, value and innovation.” 

Also receiving awards were Wakefern Food Corp., Target, Meijer, SpartanNash, Giant Eagle, Dollar General, Tops Friendly Markets, Natural Grocers, Fresh Thyme Market, Rexall, Pricemart, Casey’s, Foxtrot, Mega Mart, the Defense Commissary Agency and Federated Group.

PLMA added that some of the winning products reflected own-brand trends such as eco-friendly household goods, organic food and baking products, specialty beverages and user-friendly self-care products. Those items included Kroger Hydro Go Caffeinated Water; Culinaria Raspberry-Lemon Italian Soda from Schnucks; Lidl Organic Coconut Flour; Nature's Nectar Aloe Vera Drink from Aldi; Organic White Jasmine Rice from Thrive Market; Seven Farms Organic Vanilla Almond Granola from Federated Group; Equate Eucalyptus Congestion Relief & Aromatherapy Shower Spray from Walmart; Mini Rose Hydrosol from 365 by Whole Foods Market; Bamboo Bath Tissue from Sprouts; and Total Home Earth Essentials Compostable Birch Cutlery from CVS.

This year saw more Salute to Excellence Award winners and categories. For 2020, PLMA honored 36 companies in nearly 70 food and nonfood categories, with more than 720 products submitted.

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