Sustainable, plant-based products win at PLMA international competition

The Private Label Manufacturers Association announced 36 winners from 17 countries in its International Salute to Excellence Awards competition.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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A total of 36 retailers from 17 countries were named winners of the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) 2021 International Salute to Excellence Awards, recognizing innovation and quality of own brand food and nonfood products alike. The international competition precedes PLMA’s Private Label Trade Show, taking place in Chicago from Nov. 14-16.

Nearly 600 products introduced in the past year were submitted by 62 retailers from 23 countries for consideration in the competition dedicated exclusively to private label products. The winning food and nonfood items were selected by several panels of judges that included industry professionals such as former retailers, chefs, academics, nutritionists, journalists and private label experts.

“Clearly evident this year in the quality of all the submissions and especially the winners, is a heightened focus on innovation and new product development,” said Peggy Davies, PLMA president. “These private label products demonstrate that all those involved in their development, testing and marketing have their finger on the pulse of important consumer trends.”

Of the 101 awards given by PLMA this year in the international competition, 54 went to retailers in Germany, Ireland, and The Netherlands, earning 23, 17 and 14 awards, respectively. The other awards were divided among chains from southern Europe, Scandinavia, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Central Eastern Europe.

A dozen awards, the most any retailer has won in a single year since the program’s inception in 2014, were handed to Germany’s drugstore Dirk Rossmann. Musgrave Retail Partners from Ireland came away with 10 and South African retailer Woolworths received seven. Jumbo Supermarkten in the Netherlands won six while both Dunnes Stores from Ireland and El Corte Inglés from Spain received five. 

Other winning retailers were Aldi Stores (Ireland), Asda Stores (United Kingdom), Axfood (Sweden), Action (Netherlands), Carrefour (France), Colruyt (Belgium), Coop Jednota (Slovakia), Coop Trading (Denmark), Dagrofa (Denmark), Delhaize (Belgium), Despar (Italy), Eroski (Spain), Etos (Netherlands), Eva (Ukraine), Globus Sb-Warenhaus (Germany), Hema (Netherlands), Kaufland (Germany), Kesko (Finland), Kruidvat (Netherlands), Marks And Spencer (United Kingdom), Md (Italy), Metro (Germany), Migros Ticaret (Turkey), Migross (Italy), Monoprix (France), Penny-Markt (Germany), Rewe (Germany), Salling Group (Denmark), Sonae Mc (Portugal) and Sopharma (Bulgaria).


In the food category, winning products include Aldi Ireland’s Specially Selected Halloween Barmbrack, Rossmann’s enerBiO Immunsaft B12 with Shiitake Mushroom extract, Jumbo’s On the Go Lettuce Sushi Wrap with Smoked Salmon, Monoprix’ Brioche with Cereals and Seeds and Musgrave’s Sustainably Hydroponically Grown Italian Salad Mix as well as El Corte Ingles Fuet Snack, and Delhaize’s Veggie Vegan Apero Wings. 

Nonfood products that took home awards included Eroski’s Quick Dissolving Toilet Paper for Chemical Toilets, Rossmann’s Organic Menstruation Sponge, Eva’s Super Collagen Seaweed Face Mask, Woolworths Earth Friendly No flush Toilet Drops, Carrefour’s Ecoplanet Cleaning Sponge, and Sonae MC 100% Recyclable Napkins.

PLMA judges released key takeaways from the competition, which showed the impact of COVID-19 on ingredient supply chains, product development, and consumer trends.

  • The high number of sustainable products showed retailers are serious about the planet and environment by looking for alternative growing processes using less water and less carbon footprint through organic and local sourcing.  
  • Recycled packaging and organic ingredients are high in the minds of the retailers’ cross-country and cross-category which now seem to be standard with 90-100% recycled packaging material.  
  • The following claims were widely noted: local and organic, 100% biodegradable, 100% compostable, 100% vegan, 99% natural ingredients, no plastic, ECO and perfume and allergy-free.
  • In food, trendy flavors like turmeric and ginger are still in place. New flavors like pink grapefruit with coriander and mayonnaise with beetroot were made. 
  • Healthy food and healthy food choices were noticeable in many categories by claiming less sugar, less fat, and less calories.  
  • Plant-based meat is growing in all meat varieties like plant-based sausages, minced meat, plant-based chicken wings and plant-based stew meat next to the plant-based burgers, with a focus towards vegans and “flexitarians.” 
  •  The indulgence food trend continued, however with a twist: highly indulging gourmet products made from organic ingredients, regionally sourced, or vegan alternatives.

“Thanks to all participants in this year’s program, and congratulations to the winning retailers,” said Davies. “To reduce carbon footprints, the increase in sustainable and environmentally friendly products in food and non-food categories validates the shift retailers are making to moving toward a cleaner planet.”