Editors’ Picks 2021: Featured Winners

Albertsons, Topco, Southeastern Grocers and Walgreens lead the pack of retailers and suppliers that introduced innovative store brand products during the year.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically challenged retailers and private brand suppliers with sourcing issues, health and safety, and getting product on shelves. In some cases, retailers slimmed down production lines, needing to cut back on new flavors or introductions to focus solely on the products needed most in stores.

With that said, retailers didn’t give up on innovation entirely. If anything, it’s clear that retailers adapted innovation to meet new consumer needs stemming from the pandemic. For example, with restaurants having to close in-door dining at times, and shoppers cooking more at home, retailers stepped up in seasonings, sauces and frozen meals with their own brands, providing global and restaurant-inspired flavors.

Retailers and suppliers also answered a call from shoppers for healthier options during the pandemic, ramping up plant-based programs and functional foods.

Store Brands’ annual Editors’ Picks program highlights some of these trends and more.

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Featured Winners:

Touching several food and beverage categories and establishing itself as one of the top winners in the contest, Albertsons’ standout products include: varietals of its Kalyana Wines; Signature Reserve Brut; Caffe Venezia Coffee Pods & Ground Coffee; Lucerne Ultra-Filtered Chocolate Milk; Signature Select juices; O Organic Pizza Crusts; Signature Select Restaurant Classics Old Fashioned Brown Bread; Open Nature Almond Butter Granola & Seasonal Granola; Signature Reserve Original Fondue; Signature Select Spicy Honey; Signature Reserve Olive Oils; Signature Select Avocado Oils; Open Nature Clean Label Cooking Sauces; O Organics Sushi Nori; O Organics Coconut Aminos All Purpose Seasoning Sauce; Open Nature cauliflower dips; Open Nature Savory Skillets; Signature Select Bar Mix Sweet & Spicy; O Organics Single Serve Snack Nuts; Signature Select Potato Chips Wicked Hot and Chile Limon; Signature Select Potato Chips; Signature Select Pita Crackers; O Organic Cookies Variety Pack; and O Organics mini cookies.

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The Carrollton, Texas-based company stood out in the alcohol category for its work on 7-Eleven’s Sip Sip Hooray ready-to-drink wine cocktail. The drink launched in two flavors, Lime Margarita and Mango Margarita, helping 7-Eleven build up its adult offerings.


A gold winner in a hot frozen foods category, Leonetti’s store brand product kicks up breakfast, leveraging its proprietary stromboli dough into microwaveable egg sandwiches in Egg, Sausage and Cheese; Egg, Baked Ham & Cheese; Egg, Bacon & Cheese; and Egg & 3 Cheese.


RW Garcia
Bringing two healthy, tasty options to the salty snacks segment, RW Garcia developed for private label the RW Garcia Organic Kale and RW Garcia Organic Everything crackers. Both single-bite crackers are USDA Organic certified, verified non-GMO, gluten-free and kosher, and can be enjoyed as a snack with zesty flavors or enjoyed with cheese and spreads.


Southeastern Grocers
Under its stalwart SE Grocers own brand and its premium Prestige and organic Naturally Better labels, the supermarket chain won several awards in food, beverage and nonfood categories. Winning store brand products included: SE Grocers Naturally Better Organic Baby Foods; Naturally Better Paper Straws; Naturally Better Compostable Bowls; Naturally Better Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour & Cake Mixes; Prestige Roasted Garlic Petite Artisan Loaf; Prestige Real Premium Ice Cream flavors; SE Grocers Unicorn Shimmer; SE Grocers Prestige Veal Cutlets & Naturally Better Lamb Loin Chops; and the Naturally Better rotisserie chickens.

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Topco Associates
Under TopCare, Full Circle Market, Food Club, Crav’n and more private label brands, Topco demonstrated incredible innovation through these winning products: Full Circle Market Global Spices; Crav’n Flavor Animal Crackers; Tippy Toes Coconut Delight Kids Body Wash and Shampoo;TopCare Castille Lavender Multi-Use Cleaning  Soap; TopCare Mineral Continuous Spray Sunscreen; TopCare Flesh-Tone Fabric Bandages; TopCare 1% Diclofenac Sodium Topical Gel; TopCare Children’s Melatonin; WIde Awake Nitro Cold Brew; Wide Awake Coffee Co. Limited Edition Flavor EcoPods; Full Circle Market Original Oat Milk; Food Club Peanut Butter and Jelly Puffs; Culinary Tours Gruyere Cheese; Full Circle Market Italian Blend cheese; Full Circle Market Finishing Butters; Full Circle Market Gluten-Free Baking Mixes; Crav’n Flavor Break and Bake Cookie Dough; Food Club Plant-Based Sweeteners; Crav’n Flavor and Full Circle Bowls; Full Circle Market Meatless Burgers; and Full Circle Market Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon.


Walmart’s HART Consumer Products
Walmart revolutionized the store brand hardware category when it launched Hart a year ago, only to come back with 100 more products this year. Three of them swept the hardware category: the Hart 20V Cordless Stick Vacuum Kit with Brushless Technology; Hart 20V Heated Jacket Kit; and the Hart Circular Saw Blade.

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Walgreens stepped up during the pandemic in many ways, and it also found new ways to assist shoppers at home during the pandemic and with new health-related store brand products. Here are three winners in this year’s medical category: Walgreens Red Light Therapy Wrap; Walgreens, a first-to-market pain-relief product; Pulse Oximeter With Respiratory Rate, designed to help consumers at home monitor oxygen levels; and the Walgreens Collagen + Vitamin C Gummies for building up the immune system.


See the complete list of winners here.


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