Grocery retailers across the country are turning to innovative store brands 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 SelectTM Chipotle Craft Beer BBQ Sauce. 

Others reflect the latest consumer trends, such as Aldi’s Earth GrownTM Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger, Sobey’s Compliments Naturally Simple Ancient Grain Steel Cut Oatmeal, Walmart’s Great ValueTM Ciabatta Pizza Crusts, and 7-Eleven’s 7-Select© Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic

Retailers also introduced innovative products that have 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 HemisFaresTM Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wakefern’s Shop Rite Trading CompanyTM 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 health care winners was CVS Health’s Pro Strength Kinesiology Tape.

Retailers and wholesalers across the US, 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.