The huge variety of products in the bagged snacks sector, which includes crisps, baked snacks, tortilla chips and nuts, means that it covers a wide range of needs, from food that is an occasional, sinful treat to products a nutritionist would consider saintly.

The buyers singled out by snack suppliers are those deemed to be the most in tune with how the £1.8bn UK bagged snacks market is changing. They are also the keenest listeners, according to suppliers.

Waitrose bagged snacks buyer Adrian Gash wins the accolade of this month's Star Buyer for these reasons, as well as his ambitions to grow Waitrose's and its customers' businesses.

"He works with us so that we can be successful," according to one supplier. "He also wants to be successful and he knows that by talking to us, we can get closer to where we want to be.

"That's a wonderful thing. It means that if he's got an issue we can talk about it and resolve it rather than it just being dismissed. He listens carefully and that helps everybody involved."

Suppliers suggest a listening culture is also a major characteristic of buyers at the retailer that dominates the rest of this month's Six of the Best - Tesco.

Tesco buyers listen to suppliers' arguments, they say, and are also prepared to give companies a fair chance when they want to launch new products or tweak their existing ones to adapt to changes in the market.

"The supermarkets are continually looking for new products and we have found that Tesco has given us the biggest opportunity to provide for them," says one supplier. "It's a big thing, particularly for small companies, just to be given an opportunity to drive innovation."

Tesco's category manager Eric Tavoukdjian is one of three Tesco buyers to be singled out by bagged snack suppliers for their hard work and commitment to growing the category.

Tavoukdjian, in particular, is praised for his fair, yet no-nonsense attitude towards companies.

"Eric is balanced and level-headed in his approach to us," says one supplier. "Although he is a tough negotiator, he makes reasonable demands. He also has a very good understanding of the category and works collaboratively with suppliers."

Another adds: "You always get the feeling that Eric wouldn't ask you for something that he wouldn't be prepared to give if he were on the other side of the table.

"I know he can push hard, but when he pushes you feel he knows what it's like to be in your shoes."n