The Grocer this week names the own label suppliers that buyers rate as the best in the business.

Western Wines, Inter Link, Toms Confectionery, Robert Wiseman, Kerry Foods, RHM Frozen Foods, McVitie’s, Robert McBride, Dawn Meats and Gerber have all emerged as the category champions in our 2003 supplier survey.

Buyers from across the trade were asked to nominate their top suppliers based on a number of criteria including their account management skills, reliability, value for money and track record in developing new products.

The category champions all share a number of key attributes, according to the buyers we quizzed as part of our annual survey. But the ability to innovate is increasingly a benchmark by which own label suppliers succeed or fail. Flexibility and speed of response were also identified by buyers as core competencies of their top own label suppliers.

The good news does not stop there for our category champions. They are now on a shortlist for the Grocer Gold Award for best own label supplier.

The winner will be announced on June 11.

In our April 12 issue we will reveal the industry’s best branded goods suppliers - as voted for by buyers.