Our Finest Hour, tweeted Tesco last Friday, after its recently relaunched premium range took almost a third of the golds at The Grocer’s Own-Label Awards. But it was by no means the only retailer with plenty to be proud of.

Seven other retailers took home golds from the ceremony at the Park Lane Hilton, ranging from Lidl with its haul of 19 through to Today’s, which won a single gold (and was the only retailer to convert 100% of its shortlisted entries to medals).

Cambridge Market Research, which conducted consumer testing of the 1,028 products entered in the 2014 awards, paid tribute to Tesco’s entries.

The new Finest packaging certainly helped, believes MD Paul Beresford. “Quality is intrinsically linked to excellence in product delivery, but consumers start to evaluate quality on shelf.” And Tesco outperformed all other retailers except M&S, with two-thirds of testers rating Tesco packaging good or excellent.

But Tesco “has clearly found a winning formula for its premium range when quality and excitement matter,” he added.

And other expert judges agreed the foodie credentials and quality of the revamped Finest range meant it could even compete head-on with M&S - which left this year’s awards empty-handed.

As expert judge Claire Nuttall, founding partner at brand development agency Thrive unlimited says: “When we blind-tested the Finest products, we often referenced M&S food quality which, being frank, was unexpected even of Tesco Finest.”

Conversely Lidl, which walked away with 19 golds, was successful despite its packaging averaging 3.57 out of 5 - below the 3.66 average for all products entered into the awards - though the clean, white packaging in its top-tier Deluxe range found favour.

Lidl demonstrated the excellent quality of its food but needs to find a strategy to attract and retain new audiences, suggests Nuttall. “People want to feel proud as well as thrifty in having products in their fridges.”

Nuttall was particularly complimentary about the innovation on display. Many winners scored highly by offering new twists on traditional products, such as Tesco Finest haddock fishcakes with a melt-in-the-middle filling and Asda’s roast-in-the-bag garlic & herb chicken. “The standard of innovation was a lot higher than in previous years,” she adds.

Consumers are becoming more adventurous, says Asda senior product development director Gail Paddy, which was reflected in the success of its Chosen by You Chicken & Chorizo Traybake - winner of a gold and the Chairman’s Award. “We’re seeing a developing trend for products like this as our customers show a growing inclination towards sharing and Mediterranean-style products.”

One surefire way to impress consumers was offering comparable or better quality than rivals at a competitive price. Lidl’s Vitafit apple juice (99p) and Yellowfin Sole Fillets (£1.79) both achieved a maximum 50 score from consumers and went on to win golds.

Not that it was necessary to be cheap to be seen as good value: among the top-scorers for value were a £3.99 Aldi salmon Wellington with cheese & Dill Sauce, while 14 of Tesco’s 22 gold-winning Finest lines were rated above average for value.

Although it is less than nine months since Tesco relaunched Finest, its success in the awards is a reflection of stronger performance in-store. Volume sales of Finest cheese are up 53% year-on-year, says Tesco, while coffee has risen 35%, crisps, nuts & snacks 50%, and block chocolate 86%.

Finest has since expanded with seasonal lines including gelato and flavoured sausages, and Tesco chief food developer Angela Hughes promises more activity around seasonal confectionery lines - including a spectacular, wooden-cased £25 Finest Premium Medley of eggs launched this Easter. “Finest has been quite a move from where we were,” she adds. “It is a much stronger brand; more artisan and more foodie.”