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 products were evaluated by panels of industry professionals and consumers. Judges selected 53 products, 38 food and 15 nonfood items.

Some of the bakery and snack winners emphasized their international or multicultural flair, such as Costco’s Kirkland Signature European Pastries, Wakefern’s ShopRite Trading Company Garlic Tandoori Naan and Earth Fare’s Himalayan Pink Salt Kettle Chips. Unusual flavor combinations and twists were also winners, such as HyVee’s Peaceful Piranha Sweet BBQ Peanut Poppers and BJ’s Wholesale Club’s Wellsley Farms White Chocolate Twist Cake.

“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 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 U.S., 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.

Click here for a complete list of all retail winners.