Grocery retailers across the country are turning to innovative private brand products to attract loyal shoppers as competition heats up between brick and mortar and online retailers. Gone are the days when supermarkets offered only commodity products that imitated national brands.

This trend is most evident in PLMA’s 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards program, where more than 500 new store brands food and nonfood products were evaluated by panels of industry professionals and consumers. Judges selected 53 products, 38 food and 15 nonfood items, for Salute to Excellence Awards.

In grocery, some winners feature unusual flavor combinations, such as Metro’s Irresistibles Green Tea and White Chocolaty ice cream bar and Albertsons Signature Select Chipotle Craft Beer BBQ Sauce. Others reflect the latest consumer trends, such as Aldi’s Earth Grown Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger, Sobey’s Compliments Naturally Simple Ancient Grain Steel Cut Oatmeal, Walmart’s Great Value Ciabatta Pizza Crusts, and 7-Eleven’s 7-Select Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic Juice. Retailers also introduced innovative products that have an international flair, such as Earth Fare’s Himalayan Pink Salt Kettle Chips. Some offer distinctive ingredients, including Wegmans for Pasilla Pepper Adobo Bold Roasted Chili Paste. Products emphasizing international and multicultural flair were winners, too, like Kroger’s HemisFares Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wakefern’s Shop Rite Trading Company Imported Artichoke Hearts from Peru, or Lidl’s Preferred Selection British Vintage Cheddar Cheese.

“What is really amazing is how good retailers have become in spotting trends and developing new products,” said PLMA president Brian Sharoff. “Ten years ago, all you heard were complaints from national brands about how private Label was nothing more than copy-cats. Now it is the retailers and their store brands suppliers who are pioneering and leading the way.”

Nonfood award winners also feature unusual ingredients, such as Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Cucumber Avocado Body Butter and Lavender Tea Tree Scent Liquid Dish Soap, while Thrive Market was recognized for its Coconut Sunscreen Lip Balm, Liquid Lavender Laundry Detergent and Bamboo+Recycled Bath Tissue.

In the personal care and wellness category, Walgreens won with its C.Y.O Eyeshadow Palette Rainbow Warrior Colors. Among the healthcare winners was CVS Health’s Pro Strength Kinesiology Tape.

Retailers and wholesalers across the U.S., Canada and Latin America were asked to submit their new store brands products for consideration. The products were reviewed for innovation based on trends in the category, the markets in which the retailer operates and what competitors were offering. In addition to innovation and product concept, products were also judged for taste, texture and smell, packaging and presentation, and value for money.

All the winning products will be on display at PLMA’s 2018 Private Label Trade Show, to be held November 11-13 at the Rosemont Convention Center, near Chicago. The event is the largest private label exhibition in North America, attracting more than 11,000 attendees, including buyers, visitors and exhibitor personnel.

FOOD FOR THE FAMILY

Appetizers & Hors d’Oeuvres

Lidl Italiamo Seafood Cocktail with Marinade & Basil

Main Dishes

Aldi Parkview Select/Cuts Three Cheese Uncured Cooked Chicken Sausage

Side Dishes

Sobeys Compliments Super Green Blend Frozen Vegetables

Deli/Prepared Foods

Lidl No Name Pulled Chicken with BBQ Sauce

Pizza (tie)

Metro Irresistibles Canadian Mega Pizza

Walmart Great Value 2 Ciabatta Pizza Crusts

Soup (tie)

Thrive Market Organic Bone Broth

Ahold Delhaize USA Store Brand Logo Chicken & Chorizo Sausage Gumbo

Breakfast Foods

Sobeys Compliments Naturally Simple Ancient Grain Steel Cut Oatmeal

BAKERY & DESSERTS

Cakes & Pies

BJ’s Wholesale Club Wellsley Farms White Chocolate Twist Cake

Breads, Rolls & Muffins

Wakefern ShopRite Trading Company Garlic Tandoori Naan

Ice Cream & Frozen Novelties

Metro Irresistibles Green Tea & White Chocolaty Coating Ice Cream Bars

Cookies

Costco Wholesale Kirkland Signature European Pastries

Breakfast Cereal

Metro Irresistibles Naturalia Coconut Flakes & Hemp Seeds Granola

SNACKS

Chips & Crisps

Earth Fare Himalayan Pink Salt Kettle Chips

Nibbles & Noshes

Hy-Vee Peaceful Piranha Sweet BBQ Peanut Poppers

Candy & Chocolate

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels

Spreads & Dips

Wakefern Wholesome Pantry Organic Raspberry Preserves

Children’s Foods

Southeastern Grocers SE Grocers Apple Sauce Pouches Variety Pack

BEVERAGES

Juices, Energy & Flavored Drinks

7-Eleven 7-Select Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic Juice

Hot Beverages

Jet.com Uniquely J Single Serve Diner Blend Coffee

Soda & Flavored Waters (tie)

H-E-B Central Market Organic Lemon Italian Soda

Trader Joe’s Rhubarb & Strawberry Soda

HEALTHY EATING

Healthy & Natural

Wakefern Wholesome Pantry Organic Beet Hummus

Organic

Albertsons O Organics Japanese Inspired Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette Dressing

Vegetarian/Vegan

Aldi Earth Grown Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger

Special Dietary Foods

Wegmans Organic CauliCrème

Infants & Toddlers

Topco Tippy Toes Organic Organic Baby Food Apple Zucchini Spinach Strawberry

DAIRY

Cheese

Lidl Preferred Selection British Vintage Cheddar Cheese

Dairy & Non-Dairy Milk

Walmart Great Value Lactose-Free Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Yogurt

Walmart Great Value On The Go Lowfat Yogurt Tubes

MEAL PREPARATION

Ingredients

Wegmans Food You Feel Good About® Pasilla Pepper Adobo Bold Roasted Chili Paste

Dressings/Marinades & Oils

The Kroger Co. HemisFares Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pasta & Pasta Dishes

Earth Fare Organic Spirali Organic Macaroni

Pasta Sauces & Cooking Sauces

Target Simply Balanced Portabella Mushroom Pasta Sauce

Asian Food

Aldi Season’s Choice Steamed Asian Seasoned Medley

Mexican/Latin American Foods

Wakefern ShopRite Trading Company Imported Artichoke Hearts from Peru

Condiments

Albertsons Signature Select Chipotle Craft Beer BBQ Sauce

PERSONAL CARE & WELLNESS

Body Care & Hair Care

Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Cucumber Avocado Body Butter

Beauty Care & Cosmetics

Walgreens C.Y.O Eyeshadow Palette Rainbow Warrior Colors

Baby

Target Cloud Island Diaper Bags

Men’s Grooming

Costco Wholesale Kirkland Signature Triple Blade Razor & Cartridges

Bath & Shower

Walmart Equate Beauty Rainfall Bath Gel

HEALTH CARE

OTC

Albertsons Signature Care Emoji Adhesive Bandages

Health Care

CVS Health Pro Strength Kinesiology Tape

Sun Care & Toiletries

Thrive Market Coconut Sunscreen Lip Balm

Children

Walgreens Suncare Family Pack

HOME & HOUSEHOLD

Kitchen & Cooking

Trader Joe’s Lavender Tea Tree Scent Liquid Dish Soap

Home & Garden

BJ’s Wholesale Club Berkley Jensen Folding Wagon with Tray

Laundry & Cleaning

Thrive Market Liquid Lavender Laundry Detergent

Paper & Plastic

Thrive Market Bamboo + Recycled Bath Tissue

Pet Food & Pet Care (tie)

BJ’s Wholesale Club Berkley & Jensen Puppy Chicken & Rice Holistic Recipe Food

Metro Irresistibles Apple & Chicken Dog Treats

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Christopher Durham
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.