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Product of the Year winners announced. See who won

Unilever, Walmart pick up the most wins in consumer voted competition

Tortilla chips made to handle the thickest of dips. And cottage cheese for the lump-averse.

These were two of the grocery items that won at last night’s Product of the Year awards, held in Toronto.

The awards, now in their seventh year in Canada, recognize innovation across consumer goods and services, from food to housewares to health and beauty.

Winners were chosen through an online survey of 7,000 consumers, and their companies will be able to use Product of the Year’s familiar red seal in their marketing.

Product of the Year awards were handed out in 36 categories.

Among the winners: Nordica Smooth, a cottage cheese from Gay Lea Foods that does not have any lumps.

The product was developed to address a significant problem facing cottage cheese sales: 54% of Canadians refuse to eat cottage cheese because of its odd texture. Nordica Smooth won in the dairy category.

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Another winner was PepsiCo Foods for its Tostitos Rolls, mini corn tortilla chips rolled into bite-sized cylinders that can handle thick dips without breaking. It won in the chips category.

PepsiCo also took home hardware in the snack food category for its Stacy’s pita chips, which come in flavours such as Fire Roasted Jalapeno and Cinnamon Sugar.

The biggest hardware haul on the night went to Unilever, which picked up five award.

It won for its TreSemmé Beauty Full Volume System in the hair care category; Dove Men + Care Complete 2 in 1 shampoo and conditoner in men’s toiletries; Vim Cream eucalyptus scent in household products; Vaseline Lip Therapy in a small, vintage looking metal tin (in the lip care category); and Bryers Gelato Indulgences in the ice cream/gelato category.

Walmart Canada picked up four awards: Our Finest cheddar cheese and applewood smoked bacon beef burgers in frozen foods; Our Finest Holiday Variety Cheesecake in the cakes category; Our Finest carrot cake soft baked cookies in the cookies and clusters category; and Pure Balance salmon and pea grain-free dog food in the animal products category.

Another private-label winner this year was Toronto-based Longo’s for its Longo’s Bros. Signature Indulgent chocolate mousse cups. That win came in the frozen dessert category.

Product of the Year is billed as the world’s largest consumer voted awards program for product innovation. Founded 29 years ago in the U.K., it’s now in 40 countries.

In Canada, Product of the Year’s media partner is Rogers Media, owner of Canadian Grocer.

A two-step process is used to select winners from among products that are submitted by their companies. First, a jury of industry experts selects finalists. From those, consumers vote online to choose the winners.

Seventy-one per cent of Canadians say they would try a new product if they saw the Product of the Year seal on its packaging, according to research conducted by Rogers Insights Custom Research.

This year’s winners included products from companies big and small.

McCain won in the frozen sides category for its extra-crispy onion rings, made from Spanish onions. And Nestlè picked up a win in the design/packaging category for its 45-gram Smarties carton. The box has three individual chambers for portion control.

Smaller grocery brands that won included Kataria Foods. The Brampton, Ont.-based company won for its coconut curry sauce, which can be used for simmering vegetables, seafood and chicken as well as a marinade or soup enhancer.

Promise Gluten Free won in the breads category for its high-fibre multigrain bread. It contains five different types of seeds but is low in calories, sugar and fat.

Winnipeg-based Manitoba Harvest won for its Hemp Heart bars, which allow hemp lovers to snack on the go.

In the pasta category, meanwhile, Gabriella’s Kitchen won for its Skinnypasta, a fresh pasta with three times more protein (13 grams) and more than twice the fibre (five grams) of traditional pasta.

Another winner this year was San Francisco-based Torani. The company has been making flavoured syrups for coffeehouses since 1925. It won in the K-cup category for its coffee pods in two flavours: salted caramel and coconut macaroon.

To see a complete list of the year’s Product of the Year winners click here.


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