Rising wheat prices have challenged cereal suppliers recently, and the star buyers in this month's Six of the Best have been singled out by companies for their help and co-operation in these tough times.

Stuart Hargreaves, senior buyer at Morrisons, has been nominated as the Star Buyer in the cereals category because of his attitude to negotiations and discussions and the way he understands the difficulties that manufacturers are facing.

“His willingness to share his experience and knowledge is second to none,” says one supplier, while another adds: “He is a point of contact and can be used to help resolve the challenges we face on supply.”

Hargreaves is described as being “tough at times” and completely customer-focused but also willing to share his thinking so Morrisons and its suppliers can find joint solutions to problems.

Suppliers say he gives open and honest feedback on NPD as well as clear guidance on how to back new launches with in-store support to get the most out of them.

Sarah Armstong at Tesco is also singled out for her no-nonsense approach. She has only been with Tesco since the start of the year but has impressed suppliers. One describes her as having been proactive from her first day in the job and extremely committed to joint business development.

“Her energy and passion for the job have resulted in some true firsts such as establishing collaborative working between Tesco's supply chain and our supply chain,” says one cereal company.

“Her ability to find solutions to problems and willingness to support ideas is why we would like to nominate her.”

Armstrong is also described as having a pragmatic approach to decision-making. “When she commits to a decision you know she will deliver against it,” says one company. Suppliers say she is also realistic and takes a long-term view of the category.

Andy Kerrighan, biscuit buyer at Asda, makes it into the list by virtue of the fact he also deals with cereal bars. Kerrighan is singled out because he “does exactly what he says he will do and has no hidden agenda”, says one manufacturer.

Vanessa Pearson at Sainsbury's also makes the list. “Pearson looks at the category with a fresh pair of eyes,” according to one supplier. “She has innovative ideas and is a breath of fresh air to deal with.”

Lorna Harrison, senior buying manager for breakfast cereal and home baking at Tesco, and Asda's cereal buyer Phil Hancock complete the line-up. Hancock is seen as a “hard but fair” negotiator, while Harrison is “an excellent buyer” who is “receptive to new ideas”.

Star buyer: Stuart Hargreaves

Hargreaves joined Morrisons in 1983, working part-time two evenings a week after college. Between 1987 and 1989, he worked within operations, fresh and frozen food. In 1989 he became part of a sales team responsible for produce, fresh foods, meat and bread, before moving to grocery buying in 1994 as a trainee buyer across categories including condiments, desserts, and cereals. He was promoted to senior buyer in 2004 and is now responsible for coffee and cereals.

Sarah Armstrong
Buying manager, cereals and cereal bars, Tesco

Armstrong began her buying career at Alliance UniChem (now Alliance Boots). She spent four years buying and developing health and beauty products and became healthcare category buying manager. She started at Tesco in January this year as buying manager for cereals and cereal bars.

Vanessa Pearson
Cereal buyer, Sainsbury's

Pearson has worked for Sainsbury's for four-and-a-half years after joining the retailer's graduate programme in 2003. She has worked in a number of fresh food categories such as pizza, seasonal party food and soup and took up the role of cereals category buyer in February this year.

Phil Hancock
Cereal buyer, Asda

Hancock has worked for Asda for the past nine-and-a-half years holding various roles. Most recently he held the position of confectionery buyer from January 2004 but moved to cereals towards the end of 2005.

Andy Kerrighan
Biscuits buyer, Asda

Kerrighan is responsible for biscuit buying at Asda but his role overlaps with the cereals category as well because he deals with cereal bars.

Lorna Harrison
Senior buying manager, breakfast cereal, preserves, sugar and home baking, Tesco

Harrison joined Tesco's beer, wine and spirits department in 2001 as a commercial graduate trainee. She became assistant buyer and then buyer, before moving to cereals in 2004. Assessing the success of the redesign of Tesco's own-label cereals has been part of her focus in the past year, along with Tesco's continued emphasis on health.