Fancy cheese displayed in delectable cupcake fashion. A lineup of natural deli meats with ingredients even a child could pronounce. And a dog snack that helps put extra spring in Rover's step. These were just a few of the innovative winners in the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards, announced at a gala event in Toronto in June.
The biggest winner: Mini Hors-D'oeuvre from La Fromagerie 1860 Du Village Inc., in Warwick, Que. The Saputo-owned company won the coveted All-Canadian product award, the Innovation and Originality award, plus top prize in the Dairy category. Judges were wowed by the sampler's taste and presentation. Each cheese is individually wrapped like a cupcake, making it ideal for a cheese platter or as a gift for a party's hostess (along with a bottle of wine, of course).
Other big winners included Canada Safeway, which picked up four of the seven awards given out in the Private Label category. Smucker Foods, Canada Bread, Unilever, Kraft, Method and Metro Richelieu won two awards each. "The grocery industry has consistently demonstrated leadership in the quality, innovation and variety of new products," observed Diane Brisebois, president of the Retail Council of Canada, the Grand Prix organizer.
Several grocery trends stood out this past year, notably healthy eating and green. Award winners with a health twist included Maple Leaf's Natural Selections deli meats, and Natural Defense Joint Health Premium Snacks for Adult Dogs, from Mars. Among items with a sustainability theme: Method's laundry detergent and Safeway's reusable shopping bag.
Grand Prix winners were chosen by a 32-member jury made up of people working in the grocery industry, media, students and award sponsors, who met in Montreal in February to try food and private label products. Meanwhile, non-food products were assessed at home for six weeks. The jury was led by Marcus Von Albrecht, director of the B.C. Chefs' Association.