I'm sure you read Bob Farrand's comments about own-label in this mag a couple of weeks ago. The director of the Guild of Fine Food said top-of-the-range own-label lines were "average food in fancy packaging". Hats off to Bob for speaking out on behalf of his members: the delis, farmers' markets and other purveyors of "fine foods". But I was surprised by his condemnation, not just because he appears not to be able to taste the difference between value ranges and premium, but that he shouldn't recognise how closely the progress of the own-label sector reflects the success of his own members in raising the bar for quality. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And as a peak at The Little Black Book enclosed with this issue will confirm, farmers' markets (up 12%) as well as fishmongers (up 62%) are among the best-performing sectors of the grocery retail market, so I suggest everyone is rising on the premium tide. As we saw at The Grocer's Own Label Excellence Awards this week (see p44), the own-label market has changed out of all recognition in the past 10 years. It has responded strongly to exciting trends in food and drink production, with organic, healthy, natural and premium ingredients, innovative recipes, but above all taste coming ever higher on the agenda. This is not to say premium own-label lines are perfect. Set against the worthy winners (check out Sainsbury's Taste the Difference meatballs or Tesco Finest fig and date yoghurt), some entries to our awards were disappointingly average, but own-label products are now often better than branded rivals, the industry is widely acknowledged as the most sophisticated and advanced in the world, and, as Asda and M&S proved again this week, is leading the way in terms of product reformulations.