A new awards scheme is being launched this week by The Grocer to reward the very best in own label product development.

One of the unique features of The Grocer Own Label Excellence Awards is that consumers will have a say in deciding the eventual winners.

All entered products will be put to the test by consumer panels whose membership will reflect a cross-section of the UK population. To conduct this work, The Grocer has teamed up with Cambridge Market Research, an independent company with more than 25 years experience in the field of consumer testing.

Entrants will be provided with a top-line report from the consumer judging process which will give a real insight as to what shoppers think of their products. The report will contain verbatim consumer feedback, as well as their ratings of the product and how it performed relative to others in that particular category.

These reports will also be used by our panel of expert judges who will use the results to decide the winners, based on criteria such as taste, appearance, packaging, content, value for money and clarity of labelling.

The awards are open to any existing or new own label products, as long as they are commercially available and not in development. In all, there are 17 categories to enter, covering all the main food sectors as well as emerging product areas such as organic, Fairtrade, speciality and better-for-you.

Deadline for entries is December 1, with the winners being announced at a awards luncheon at the Savoy Hotel on May 16.

“The key feature of our new awards scheme is the robust and vigorous nature of the judging,” said The Grocer’s editor Julian Hunt, “It means that the winners will know they are truly the most outstanding products in their category.”

He added: “As well as the prestige of getting an award from The Grocer, our scheme will provide a fantastic platform for winners to promote their products to consumers. Further, our unique judging process means the winners will be able to highlight the fact their product has been given the thumbs up by consumers - providing another point of competitive advantage in the market.”

Winners will be able to use the awards logo in their PR, on packs and in stores free of charge.

For more information, go to www.thegrocerownlabel.co.uk or contact Nicola Smith on 01293 867629.