And the winners of PLMA's 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards are ...

Walmart’s Marketside Lobster Bisque made an impression on judges.

The results of the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (PLMA) 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards show that retailers are increasingly relying on innovations in store brands products and packaging to attract and keep shoppers, according to the PLMA.

In this year’s competition, more than 750 private branded foods and non-foods were submitted by 62 U.S. and Canadian retailers. The products were evaluated by eight panels of industry professionals and consumers, and the judging resulted in 44 food and 23 non-food winners in categories including gourmet and indulgence, products for healthy eating, plant-based, sustainably sourced, and organics on the food side as well as free-from, eco-friendly and more in nonfoods.

“This year’s Salute to Excellence Awards submissions continue to reflect the shift away from national brands as consumers gravitate to more unique and affordable products from the stores they know and trust,” said PLMA President Brian Sharoff. “Today’s retailers have a good pulse on consumer trends in their particular markets and their store brands are better positioned than the national brands are to satisfy that shopper’s appetite for quality products.”

Retailers and wholesalers across the U.S., Canada and Latin America were asked to submit recently introduced store brands products for judging in food and non-food categories. The awards criteria included product innovation, packaging, appearance, taste or performance, and value for money.

Among winners catering to the newest consumer trends were The Kroger Co.’s Simple Truth Organic Southwest Style Quinoa, Thrive Market non-GMO Almond Butter, Whole Foods Markets 365 Everyday Value Organic Almond Chocolate Almondmilk, Lidl’s Preferred Selection Fair Trade Dark Chocolate with chili, Boxed Prince & Spring Organic Applesauce Pouches, and Southeastern Grocers Naturally Better Organic Gluten Free Caramel Crunch Ice Cream.

Options for healthy eating included Dollar General’s Good & Smart Dried Apricots and Save A Lot’s Portside Seafood Co Lemon & Pepper Light Tuna Pouch.

Gourmet-inspired products were winners too. Examples include Wakefern’s ShopRite Trading Company Imported from Italy Basilico Genovese DOP Pesto, Walmart’s Marketside Lobster Bisque, Retail Business Services’ Limited Time Originals Limoncello Inspired Granola, 7-Eleven’s 7-Select French Macarons and Price Chopper’s PICSTM Chocolate Lovers Single Cup Coffee Assortment.

On the nonfoods side, award-winning products in personal care focused on appealing fragrances and flavors, such as Target’s Goodfellow & Co Moroccan Mint & Cedar Beard Oil for men and Walmart’s equate Kids 3-in-1 Watermelon Shampoo Conditioner & Body Wash, or focused on clean ingredients such as Fresh Thyme Farmers Market Unscented Shea Butter, Boxed Prince & Spring Paraben-Free Makeup Remover Towelettes, and Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value Cavity Fighting & Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste.

Other nonfoods winners added emphasis on convenience and eye-catching packaging such as CVS’ beauty 360 on-the-go Blender and ALDI Lacura Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen.

Winners in household categories capitalized on eco-friendly products like Brandless Cucumber Mint Refillable Glass Cleaner Starter Kit, Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bee & Willow Home Rosemary & Mint Dish Soap, and Albertsons’ Open Nature Compostable Assorted Utensils.

For a complete list of all retail winners by category, click here.

All of the winning products are to be showcased at PLMA’s 2019 Private Label Trade Show, Nov. 17-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.