Several months ago, I had the pleasure of serving as a judge in the PLMA’s annual Salute to Excellence Awards, which honor the best-in-class store brands.
More than 500 products introduced during the preceding 12 months were submitted for consideration. They included food and beverages, kitchen and household, and health and beauty categories. Products were divided into Food & Drink Awards and Home & Health Awards, and then subdivided by category of product, such as side dishes or appetizers.
I, along with other industry professionals and consumers, were divided into eight jury panels. My panel spent a day sipping beverages, lathering on hand crèmes and enjoying indulgent desserts, among many other products.
We evaluated each food item for taste, performance, packaging, presentation, and value for money. Non-food products were judged on concept, packaging and presentation and value for money.
Serving as a judge was a fabulous learning experience. Not only did I get a good sense of store-brand trends, I also got to hear what other professional judges and – more importantly- consumers had to say.
The PLMA recently announced the 50 winning products. The food and beverage products that earned the highest 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.
The Home and Health products that scored the highest were Safeway’s Bright Green Cool Breeze with Bleach Alternative Laundry Detergent; TopCare Premium Blood Glucose Monitor and BJ’s Living Home 13 Piece Cookware Set.
The winners can be viewed in the “Idea Supermarket” section at the annual PLMA show, running Nov. 17-19 in Chicago. The exhibit will be one of my first stops at the show. While I may not be able to taste and try in the way I did when I was a judge, it will be good to see the winning products together in one place.
What’s your favorite?