At the 2023 edition of PLMA “International Salute to Excellence Awards,” 39 retailers from 20 countries were awarded for innovation, new product development, and quality in the private label sector. Retailers from Germany and Italy won 15 awards, followed by the Netherlands with 12 awards. Denmark won eight awards, while retailers from Ireland and Spain won seven awards each. French retailers received six awards. The remaining 31 awards went to retailers from Portugal, the UK, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Turkey, China, and South Africa.
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PRIVATE LABEL TRENDS
Among the highlights of this year’s competition, sustainability continues to be a top priority as well as authentic PDO/PGI-certified products and ingredients, products with a history behind them, and new flavors.
“We have seen the best of innovation and quality in private labels: what distributors and suppliers have developed in the past year is truly amazing,” said Leonique White, PLMA Trade & Retail Relations Manager.
Along with sustainability, a recurring trend among the winning products is high quality combined with convenience as a response to consumer needs. “The products on display highlight convenience without sacrificing quality,” said the President of PLMA Peggy Davies. “For example, organic foods were offered at the same price as non-organic equivalents, thus making them affordable to all”.
THE ITALIAN WINNERS’ PRODUCTS
The Italian retail chains which won the International Salute to Excellence Awards this year were Coop Italia, Crai Secom, Despar, MD, and Vega.
Coop Italia won four awards: one of them for the 12-month Aged Carnaroli Fiorfiore Rice, which came in a tie for first place in the Side Dishes category. The jury liked the idea of the 12-month aging period, which makes this rice ideal for risotto and paella, as well as the excellent flavor. In the Spreadable Creams and Savory Sauces category, the supermarket group was awarded for its Anchovy Paste, which received the highest score for its convenience combined with excellent flavor.
Crai Secom was awarded two prizes, one of them in the Canned Fish category for its Cantabrian Sea Anchovies “La Rosa dei Gusti” marinated in Vermouth vinegar. According to the jury, the level of quality in this category was extremely high. The innovation, high quality, and flavor of anchovies marinated in Vermouth received very high ratings-the judges called it “a super product.”
Despar won an award in the Antipasti category for its Caponata Siciliana premium, which was particularly praised for its Mediterranean flavor and the combination of eggplant and bell pepper.
The Italian discounter MD won six awards for authentic Italian foods with a history behind them, all within its “Lettere dall’Italia” product range. MD took first place in the Bread and Crackers category with its Puccia Salentina. The jury liked very much the flavor and the idea of using seawater, and they also found the packaging very attractive. MD also won in the Convenience and Ready Meals category with a special type of filled pasta: Girasoli stuffed with Pomodori San Marzano PDO and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO. The judges were impressed by the quality and authenticity of the product, which featured excellent flavor and a special shape.
Vega Cooperativa won two awards. One went to the Mondo Natura 500 g Polenta Gialla, which won in the Side Dish category. The judges, who commented “Finally a ready-to-eat polenta,” awarded top marks to this product for convenience, wholesomeness, and flavor. The other award went to the innovative biodegradable litter from the “Mondo Pulito Ecologico” line in the Pet Products category.