Once again, Progressive Grocer’s intrepid editors have sifted through the scores of new products submitted and come up with our slate of Editors’ Picks. This year, we agreed on an even 100 items that we felt more than lived up to the following judging criteria:
- INNOVATION: In overall product differentiation; new packaging application (not just new graphics or rebranding); ingredient enhancements; ability to grow/develop a new and/or existing category; new flavors/varieties/portion sizes; and positioning against the most important market and consumer trends, among others. It should really be new, not just a “me-too.”
- IMPACT: How the new product was promoted for consumer awareness, as well as functionality and utilitarian attributes. Will the product have retail sell-through?
- OVERALL VALUE: How well the product delivers on its overall value proposition (i.e., price, packaging, quality and convenience). Is it a product that’s going to appeal to mainstream supermarket shoppers?
We set ourselves an additional challenge with the 2020 submissions — or rather, one was thrust upon us by the logistical difficulties of sending packages to a geographically far-flung editorial staff sheltering at home during a pandemic — by forgoing samples, making us rely all the more on the qualities outlined above to make our final decisions. While the sampling sessions of previous years were a much-loved part of the judging process, we found that we were able to adapt to the “new normal” of Editors’ Picks with alacrity, poring over fascinating product descriptions, accounts of inventive marketing strategies, and comprehensive images displaying packaging and contents alike.
As always, the winning products were in the vanguard of consumer trends. Plant-based innovation has continued apace, with winning entries spanning the frozen dessert, granola, jerky, protein bar, nondairy creamer, snack food, alternative protein, baked goods and yogurt categories, among others. Paleo and keto were among the most commonly invoked attributes, indicative of consumers’ ongoing concerns with health and weight management, while “vegan” as a descriptor made its way into several selected items, heralding the diet’s decisive arrival into the mainstream. From the beverage alcohol aisle, creatively formulated and promoted hard seltzers proved irresistible choices for us, along with mixers and ready-made products enabling consumers to enjoy cocktails at their own home bars — a particular necessity during a national public-health emergency. Additional points of interest were private-brand products offering national-brand quality at value prices, and natural sweeteners promising all of the delights of sugar, but none of its drawbacks.
All 100 of the products below left us surprised, intrigued and hungry for more — and we hope that they do the same for you.