PLMA’s 2013 Salute to Excellence Winners

PLMA SALUTE2The Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) has announced the winners for its annual Salute to Excellence Awards and no fewer than thirty-two retailers were recognized, as fifty products took honors for 2013, following two days of tasting and evaluations by eight jury panels made up of industry experts and consumers.

salad_kitAmong the “winningest” in this year’s food & beverage categories, products earning the highest overall scores included Costco’s Kirkland Signature Sweet Mesquite Seasoning; BJ’s Wholesale Club’s Earth’s Pride Black Forest Blend Trail Mix; and Giant Eagle’s Market District Tuscan Style Kale Salad Mix. Products scoring the most points in home & health were: Safeway’s Bright Green Cool Breeze with Bleach Alternative Laundry Detergent; TopCare Premium Blood Glucose Monitor from Topco; and BJ’s Living Home 13 Piece Cookware Set.

In addition, the balloting revealed some broad trends among store brands. Multicultural moved ever more mainstream, for one: In a few instances, it hailed from the ancient spice routes of the East, as Asian-inspired and Indian fare curried favor; in others, Latino/Hispanic influences – no longer confined to ethnic or specialty items – continued to penetrate conventional categories, whether snacks, or dressings or soups.

For sweet teeth, indulgence and upscale packaging made a strong showing. Meanwhile, emphasis on beauty as well as on men’s grooming were in evidence among the non-foods items that took awards.

Nominations this year exceeded 500 new products, the most received in a single year according to PLMA. To qualify, products must have been introduced within one year of their submission by the retailer. Every product considered by the judges was scored on appearance, taste/texture/smell, packaging/presentation and value for money in the food & beverage categories, while home & health products were judged on product concept, packaging/presentation and value for money.

Trade winds of the Pacific meant clear sailing to a win for Asia-inspired items like Trader Joe’s Sriracha Sauce; Target Archer Farms Garlic, Ginger & Sriracha Cream Cheese Wontons; and Whole Foods Market Potato & Pea Samosas.

Kirkland seasoningBeauty most fair led to wins for Sephora & Pantone Universe Colorbyte Lip Wands; Costco Kirkland Signature Daily Facial Towelettes; and Victoria’s Secret Beach Wave Hair Spray. But grooming the beast was also favored, with awards for Rite Aid Renewal for Men Hair & Body Wash; and Ahold’s CareOne Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men.

Examples of the growing mainstream appetite for “el sabor Latino” include Kroger Wholesome@Home Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup; Safeway The Snack Artist Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips; Western Family Natural Directions Organic Blue Corn Chips with Flax Seeds; Brookshire’s Authentic Picante Sauce; Northgate Markets Gonzalez Jalapeño Ranch Dressing; and Navarro’s Vida Mia Café Espresso. Sweet indulgence was another big winner, capturing awards for Save-A-Lot Ginger Evans New York Style Cheesecake; Walgreens Good & Delish Dark & Twisted Chocolate with Lemon & Black Pepper; Kroger Private Selection Dark Chocolate Petit Beurre Biscuits; Winn-Dixie Prestige Raspberry Cone Crunch Ice Cream; Price Chopper Central Market Classics Mini Biscotti with Chocolate; and Metro Richelieu Irresistibles Triple Chocolate Pyramid Cake.

All of the year’s winning products will be promoted inside the ever-popular Idea Supermarket during PLMA’s 2013 Private Label Trade Show in Chicago. PLMA’s Salute to Excellence Awards also have their own dedicated showcase online. For a closer look at all the products and the trends, head to this destination:


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Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.