Frozen food has struggled to compete with the high-profile chilled category in the UK over the past few years but the overall market is recording value growth, and confidence in its long-term future is growing.

Suppliers have been working hard to reposition their frozen ranges and ensure they are offering consumers better quality and choice in the frozen aisles.

Their hard work is now paying off but many suppliers believe growth has only been possible because retailers have supported their work by stocking larger ranges, trying new products and improving merchandising.

Sainsbury's Helena Watson received the most nominations from suppliers and is this month's Star Buyer. Suppliers praise her approachable style and ability to communicate and negotiate well. Watson first appeared in the Six of the Best roll of honour last year when she featured as one of the six frozen food buyers.

“She is honest and to the point,” says one supplier. “She is also professional and interested in new ideas.”

Others say her friendly and approachable manner and her knowledge are just some of the reasons why she has been nominated.

The multiples are well represented in this month's list with only Asda buyers missing out. Buyers from Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco, Makro and Nisa all made the shortlist.

Suppliers of frozen food to Waitrose say they enjoy dealing with its frozen food buyer Amanda Scott, who reached the top six last year under her maiden name Amanda Sprowson. “She is a pleasure to do business with,” says one.

Kanaiya Parekh, Tesco's ice cream and desserts buyer, is also a hit with suppliers because of his extensive knowledge of the category.

“Parekh is straightforward and fair to deal with. He also has a good marketing focus,” says one frozen manufacturer.

Keith Wright, frozen food trading manager at Morrisons, also stood out. Suppliers appreciate his “honest approach” and his sensible dealings with customers. “Keith is professional and prepared to listen,” says one supplier.

Makro, which doesn't often feature in Six of the Best, has made it into the list through the hard work put in by its frozen food buyer Kelly Hathaway. One supplier tells us: “She is passionate about and committed to the frozen foods category.”

Hathaway was also praised for being “interested in innovation and willing to give things a try,” according to another.

Meanwhile, Steve Dixon, Nisachill's trading controller, was commended for excellent communications skills.

Six of the Best: frozen food buyers

Star buyer: Helena Watson
Frozen desserts and ice cream buyer, Sainsbury's

Watson has been in her role for almost two years but has previously traded in petfood, soft drinks and fresh and processed fish products. Before joining Sainsbury's graduate trading training programme in 2000, she studied psychology and business at Edinburgh University.

Kanaiya Parekh
Tesco, ice cream and desserts buyer

Parekh joined as a graduate trainee in 1997 and now has 10 years of experience at the multiple under his belt. He has been senior buyer for ice cream and desserts since January. He was involved in the launch of and the set-up of Tesco Media Services.

Kelly Hathaway

Makro, frozen food buyer
Hathaway joined Makro in 2003 from Safeway and moved to frozen food in 2005. She says she gets huge job satisfaction from her role, and the hard work she put in paid off when she won Makro's Food Buyer of the Year award in 2006. She is responsible for buying across the whole frozen foods category but really enjoys the desserts sector and dealing with NPD.

Steve Dixon

Trading controller, Nisachill
With a career that began pushing trolleys for a supermarket, Dixon managed to work his way up to store manager and spent 10 years working for various stores before switching to field sales. He joined Nisa-Today's as a buying controller and oversees eight frozen and chilled categories.

Amanda Scott
Frozen food buyer, Waitrose

Scott has been buying ice cream and frozen desserts for three years and added savoury lines to her remit in February. She joined Waitrose after five years with Safeway, where she joined its graduate training programme and became a meat buyer. Her career began at Sainsbury's.

Keith Wright
Frozen food trading manager at Morrisons

Wright joined Morrisons full-time when he was 18, working as a management trainee. At the age of 20 he moved to head office as a buyer's assistant in the frozen foods department before moving up the ranks to the position of frozen foods trading manager - a position he has held for seven years.