Yea or nay? What began as a political gambit by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron to secure victory for the Conservative Party in the 2015 general election has turned into a deeply divisive and existential question that has far-reaching implications for the future of the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the European Union (E.U.). On Thursday, voters in the U.K. will decide by a simple majority whether to remain in the E.U. during a national referendum known as “Brexit” (a portmanteau of the words British and exit). Over the last month, public opinion polling showed voters evenly split, with the “leave” campaign edging up slightly in recent days. “Leave” supporters, led by the nationalist U.K. Independence Party, include about half of the Conservative members of Parliament (MPs), some Labour MPs, and the Democratic Unionist Party. They argue that the U.K. loses more financially than it gains from E.U. membership and that withdrawing would protect Britain from the “uncontrolled” flow of usually low-skilled migrants from other nations who are looking for work. “Remain” proponents include Cameron, most of the Labour Party, major British and global financial institutions such as the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund, world leaders such as President Obama, and many E.U. nations, including France and Germany. They warn that the U.K. will suffer diminished political standing and influence and bear painful economic costs if it leaves, such as a loss of foreign investment that would permanently reduce its gross domestic product, an overall decline in trade with the E.U. as new difficulties or barriers are erected with the U.K.’s largest trading partner, significant job losses from international corporations, and rising national security costs.Douglas Alexander is a senior fellow in The Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 2011-2015, he served as the U.K.’s shadow secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs and held several ministerial posts between 2001 and 2010, including minister for Europe. The Gazette spoke with Alexander about the upcoming referendum and the potential fallout for the U.K. and Europe. GAZETTE: What are the historical roots of the U.K.-Europe relationship debate?ALEXANDER: The prime minister committed the Conservative Party to hold a referendum if it became the government back in January 2013. He did so under external electoral pressure from the U.K. Independence Party and internal political pressure from his own back benchers. Europe is an issue that has divided the British Conservative Party for decades, with a growing “Eurosceptic” wing within the Conservative Party who have sought the opportunity to remove Britain from the European Union. Britain last had a referendum back in 1975, and in the decades since that vote there has been a growing sentiment within the Conservative Party that Britain should leave the European Union. Today, with just days to go, we see the spectacle on British televisions and in British newspapers of Conservative cabinet ministers arguing against each other about the merits or demerits of Britain’s place within the European Union.GAZETTE: Given that Prime Minister Cameron strongly favors remaining in the E.U., was it a mistake for him to have promised this vote?ALEXANDER: I think the prime minister committed to this referendum out of weakness rather than out of strength. It was a tactic for trying to manage an increasingly unmanageable Conservative Party. But what started as a management strategy for a party has turned into a profound choice for the country. The consequences for a British exit from the European Union would be immediate and serious for the prime minister, but, much more importantly, they would be immediate and serious for the United Kingdom. We are at a time in European history where barbed wire fences are going up across Europe. The idea, as [President] George Herbert Walker Bush put it [in 1989], of “a Europe whole and free” and “at peace with itself” is being challenged in a manner we haven’t seen for decades. I personally believe that for Britain to leave the European Union would be the wrong choice for the United Kingdom, and while the choice is for people in Britain [to make], the consequences would be felt not just in Europe, but more broadly by the West.GAZETTE: What are some of the likely political, economic, and national security consequences of leaving the E.U., and also who benefits by leaving and who will be hurt?ALEXANDER: There isn’t a single and serious ally of the United Kingdom who is arguing that it is in their national interest that Britain leave. Some speculate that the only global leader who would welcome a British exit from the European Union is [Russia’s] Vladimir Putin. This would see Europe divided and weakened at a time when unity and resolve are required in the face of simultaneous security, migration, and economic challenges confronting Europe. So I believe that a choice for Britain to leave Europe would not only be damaging to Britain, but it would be damaging to Europe. A European Union without Britain would be smaller, poorer, and less influential on the world stage. And it has been the keystone of American foreign policy since the Second World War to see trans-Atlantic security as being supported both by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and by the European Union. That’s why not just President Obama, but Hillary Clinton, [Sen.] John McCain, and so many other Americans have spoken clearly and unequivocally that they judge the interests of the United States and the broader interests of the West would be served by Britain continuing to be a leading member of the European Union.One effect of Britain leaving the European Union would be to see a strengthening of the populist, nationalist, and protectionist forces that are on the rise in Europe today. Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France has said she would welcome a British vote to leave the European Union, and there is no doubt that Britain leaving would lead to a significant shift in the balance of power in the E.U. from the liberalizing north toward a more protectionist south. A decision to leave would embolden parties like the National Front, the Law and Justice Party in Poland, and Jobbik in Hungary, who hope for a British exit as a defeat for the idea of Europe and the collective strength and solidarity that Europe represents.Economically, there would be profound uncertainty for a sustained period about the nature of Britain’s economic and trading relationships, not just with Europe, but also with the rest of the world in the aftermath of a vote to leave. So I am strongly of the view that not just Britain but the interests of Europe and of the West more broadly would be served by Britain continuing to take a leading role within the European Union, alongside NATO, the United Nations Security Council, and the U.K. Commonwealth.GAZETTE: Brexit proponents argue that the U.K. contributes far more financially to the E.U. than it receives in benefits, that regulatory red tape unfairly constrains business, and that migration has become an unsustainable economic and cultural drain on the U.K. What do you make of these arguments? And are the sovereignty and migration issues legitimate or just a pretext or dog whistle to try to animate voters to their side?ALEXANDER: In the closing days of this campaign, we’re seeing a classic battle between the “remain” side, arguing about the economic costs and consequences of Britain leaving Europe, and the “exit” argument that the 23rd of June polling day is an opportunity to take back control. There is no doubt that the “exit” side is seeking to animate some of the same forces that we’re witnessing in U.S. politics today: a sense of economic anger, a sense of cultural anxiety, and a sense of political alienation. They are seeking to characterize this as a contest between the people and the government, between the elites and the people. That claim is strongly disputed by the “remain side,” who argue that the economic cost of exit will be borne most heavily by working people in Britain. One of the effects of the recent weeks of campaigning in Britain has been what some call the advent of “post-fact politics.” There’s an increasing unwillingness to agree on the facts and to diverge on the opinions, and that’s a source of real concern for many of us who are observing the conduct of this campaign.GAZETTE: There’s worry that other dissatisfied nations like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden might be inspired to leave the E.U. if the referendum succeeds. What’s your view? Would others leave, and could there be backlash against the U.K. by the E.U.?ALEXANDER: In other European capitals, there is a very real fear of a contagion effect following a British decision to leave the European Union. One of the consequences would be that in the subsequent negotiations between Britain, the European Union, other European countries and governments will feel obliged to drive a very hard bargain so as to discourage other countries from thinking they can enjoy all of the benefits of membership in the single market without any of the responsibilities of contributing to the European Union.If you’re a European leader today, you’re not only concerned about the possibility of a British exit from Europe, you have very real and continuing concerns about the refugee crisis on Europe’s southern border, about revolutionist Russia to Europe’s east, and the continuing economic challenges being faced by the Eurozone. So many European leaders would feel a deep sense of relief if British voters choose to stay part of the EU and will be concerned as to the broader impact on Europe if Britain chooses to leave.GAZETTE: How seriously is this question being taken by voters? And given that polling appears to show both sides even or slightly in favor of the “leave” campaign, what do you think will happen, and why?ALEXANDER: My sense is that there will be a reasonably high turnout in this referendum, although I would be surprised if it reached the level of the Scottish referendum on independence back in September 2014 when the turnout reached 84.6 percent, the highest recorded turnout since universal suffrage was introduced in Britain. My sense is the higher the turnout, the better for the “remain” side because the “exit” side is relying on its voters being more animated and more passionate than “remain” voters. So there will be a huge effort by both sides of this referendum campaign in the coming days to mobilize nascent support into active support on the 23rd of June.This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Innovation winner: Aldi Moroccan HoumousSupplier: not disclosedA whopping 75% of consumers thought this product was “new and different”, agreeing its spice mix had “impact” and would stand out in a chiller. Judges thought the texture had been greatly improved with the addition of chickpeas and sultanas and liked the “attractive” packaging. Overall, “fantastic flavour, excellently executed” with a “well formulated texture”. The winners: Category champion: Aldi Fish Sushi SelectionSupplier: not disclosedThis sushi pack wowed our panel of consumers, who thought it was “great for a lunch at work” and had “lots of fish” with “distinctive flavour” – as well appreciating as its “cute tray”. Judges described the Aldi sushi as “a really good-quality product” with “excellent variety for an excellent price”, lauding its “insanely good value”. Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Scottish Gingerbread with Candied OrangeSupplier: not disclosedAwarded a coveted triple innovation score, this entry wowed consumers with its “upmarket” look and “excellent taste and texture”. Seventy-nine per cent said it beat alternatives in the category and 73% felt it added something new and different. Experts praised its “striking” packaging featuring a “clear Scottish cue”. Innovation winner: Morrisons The Best Smoked Bacon & Camembert QuicheSupplier: MorrisonsConsumers thought the combination of bacon and camembert with maple syrup made for a “lovely starter” and considered the quiche “light and fluffy” with “just the right amount of saltiness” and a “good cheese flavour”. Judges praised the “hand-crafted” feel and were impressed by the whole camembert in the middle. Large cakes Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Treacle Glazed Back BaconSupplier: not disclosedPraised by judges for its “very appealing” look and “excellent packaging” coupled with the introduction of innovative new flavours, this bacon from Aldi impressed. Consumers loved that its “sweet taste and excellent quality” made it the perfect “weekend treat” with the flavour adding a “luxurious” edge to a cupboard staple. Innovation winner: Aldi Double Chocsticks Peanut ButterSupplier: not disclosedPart of an Aldi range to have scored highly with shoppers in the past, this variant did not disappoint. There was effusive praise for every aspect – from the price (£1.75/264ml) to the combination of salty peanut butter and sweet ice cream. Even the shape pleased consumers – and judges gave a thumbs-up to the “snap from the chocolate”. Category champion: Morrisons The Best Keralan Coconut SauceSupplier: AB World FoodsOur expert judges thought this sauce had an authentically “homemade” taste and texture, with a “good depth of flavour”. Our consumers were intrigued by the unusual recipe and glass jar, and while it was a little too hot for some, others enjoyed the “hot kick”. With a “good price” of £1.44 for 350g, it was rated as better than similar products from leading brands. Category champion: The Co-op Irresistible Belgian Chocolate CakeSupplier: Finsbury FoodsThere were high expectations for this Co-op cake and the product delivered, with its “chocolatey, light, moist sponge” and “attractive packaging” adding up to a “premium, sleek” entry that left 85% of our panel wanting to buy after trying. A “rich chocolatey flavour with delicious cream filling”, added our experts, who also liked its “nice finishing touches”. Blue cheese Savoury pastries Bacon Cheddar cheese Food to go – savoury Jams & spreads Meat joints Fresh fruit & vegetables Family desserts Category champion: The Co-op Rye BloomerSupplier: Country Style FoodsThe “fresh, rustic appearance” and well balanced “malty” flavour of this Co-op bloomer saw it score incredibly highly with our consumer panel, many of whom felt it would be perfect “to impress guests when entertaining” and 60% would happily recommend it to others. “The flavour and texture is great, it looks beautiful and could be eaten everyday,” added our expert judges. Crackers Innovation winner: Lidl Mature Cheddar & Balsamic Onion Waxed TruckleSupplier: not disclosedPresentation alone impressed our experts, who described it as “inventive, playful and quirky”, with strong novelty appeal. Consumers felt it would draw them in over and above other cheddars on the market, with 85% believing it was better than other options out there, featuring a “gorgeous nutty taste” and great value at £1.99. Savoury snacks Category champion: Aldi Goji & Cranberry Quinoa BarSupplier: not disclosedOur experts enjoyed the “great texture and taste” of these snack bars and thought that, at 49p, they were “excellent value for money”. The fact that quinoa featured as a lead ingredient was also praised. The consumer testers were impressed by the “chewy texture”, “healthy ingredients” and “combination of flavours”. Nearly all testers said they would consider purchase. Innovation winner: Iceland Arctic Royal Salt-Baked SeabassSupplier: not disclosedIceland’s innovatively prepared seabass was deemed “new and different” by a definitive 81% of consumers, with 77% claiming they would buy it occasionally. They thought it had a “lovely label design” with “excellent instructions”. Judges thought it was “fantastic to see so much innovation” in a product and that it was “a real first” in NPD. Innovation winner: Co-op Onion Bhaji SandwichSupplier: Greencore Food to GoThis Co-op sandwich, which capitalises on the plant-based food trend, was an “excellent product”, said our judges, with balanced flavours and a “fantastic” appearance. Some 83% of our consumers felt it offered something new and different, awarding it a 17/20 innovation score, believing it could add a touch of inspiration to the standard sandwich selection. Innovation winner: Aldi Traditional White BloomerSupplier: not disclosedAt a time when salt is being rapidly dropped by manufacturers in a bid to boost health credentials, the choice by Aldi to include sourdough saw this product score highly on innovation for our experts. Some 76% of consumers felt it offered an improvement on other products on the market, with 43% feeling it created something new and different in the category. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe Spinach, Vintage Cheddar & Garlic WellingtonsSupplier: not disclosedThis wellington also won its category’s innovation award, achieving three innovation stars with consumers, 88% of whom thought it was new and different. Our experts were bowled over by the “full flavoured innovative pie”, considering the parcel design a very different twist on traditional beef wellingtons, with great visual impact. Prepared meats Innovation winner: The Co-op Irresistible Theakstone Ale & Thyme Cooking SauceSupplier: Greencore GroceryConsumers and experts agreed this unusual sauce brought something new and different to the category. Judges were impressed by the practical two-step jar, with the separate herb compartment giving a “new twist”. Nearly 96% of consumers loved its “rich” and full-bodied flavour. More than a third would recommend it Fish – ready to eat Category champion: Lidl Mediterranean Vegetable RisottoSupplier: not disclosedPacked with “tasty, crunchy veg” this lunch pot from Lidl impressed consumers with its good health credentials and “colourful packaging”, with 61% happy to recommend it and a fifth (22%) convinced it could make it into their weekly shop. “Fresh and good value for money,” added our judges, with a “good vegetable selection” as well as being “well balanced”. Free-from – savoury Prepared poultry Pizza Category champion: Iceland Luxury Sea Salt & White Wine Vinegar CrispsSupplier: not disclosedThe expert judges loved the flavour delivery, citing its “sharp, strong vinegar taste and crunch”. They also noted the “attractive premium-style packaging”. Our consumer panel thought the crisps were “lovely” and “good value for money”. Over two thirds thought they were better than the competition and over 90% said they would buy. Innovation winner: Asda Extra Special 2 Wagyu Beef BurgersSupplier: ABP UKEighty-five per cent of consumers thought this was better than alternatives and looked “better than a standard burger”. Over half also felt the burgers were new and different. Our experts agreed they were “different to anything else”. They liked the “different meat to give a different texture” and felt the burgers brought a new cut to the category. Innovation winner: Asda Extra Special Bake in the Box Belgian Chocolate & Salted Caramel BrownieSupplier: Symington’sPackaging alone “made this a winner”, said our judges, with the fact it could be baked in its box offering a “truly convenient” solution and delivering the “wow factor”. Some 80% of consumers agreed, believing the product offered something different and awarding it an impressive innovation score of 19/20. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Aberdeen Angus Sirloin SteakSupplier: Not disclosedConsumers loved this “full of flavour” steak and scored it 48 points out of 50, describing it as “juicy”, “tender” and “better than most other supermarket packaged steak”. More than half of our testers thought this would be great as a weekend treat and more than three quarters of them said they would buy this product again. Innovation winner: Aldi KalettesSupplier: not disclosedThere wasn’t a bad word to be said about this Aldi product, with shoppers handing it a coveted double innovation star. They said it brought something truly new to the fresh veg fixture. Described as “colourful” and “easy to cook”, Aldi’s offer would be a definite regular buy for around a third of consumers as a midweek accompaniment. The experts found it “highly innovative”. Category champion: Aldi Butterflied Lamb LegSupplier: not disclosedThe novel presentation of this joint combined with its “excellent” flavour and moist texture meant it scored top marks with our experts. They felt it was an easy cook and carve, making lamb “more accessible”. Consumers liked the absence of bone and thought it was “tender” and “succulent” with “lots of flavour”. Around half of the consumers were future buyers. Category champion: Asda Oven Cook From Frozen Spanish Chicken & ChorizoSupplier: Faccenda FoodsThe mix of “tender chicken” and just the “right amount of chorizo” meant this product hit the spot for consumers. Seen as a “very healthy” meal, it appealed greatly to younger shoppers. Judges praised the “good value” of the dish, which was a “good midweek meal option” in “fresh” packaging. Confectionery – sugar Innovation winner: Morrisons The Best Italian Vine Ripened Cherry Tomato, Pecorino Cheese & Chilli Pasta SauceSupplier: LDH (La Doria)Our experts thought this sauce brought something truly different to the category, with the “great mix” of ingredients resulting in “bold and fresh” flavours. They were also impressed by its “sleek, premium packaging” and Italian provenance giving it real standout on shelf. Category champion: Iceland Peanut Butter Cup Ice CreamSupplier: not disclosedThis ice cream was “full-on peanut”, said our experts, who also loved the “great chunky pieces of chocolate”. Shoppers were in agreement. They applauded everything from the “colourful and attractive” packaging to the flavour and “creamy” texture. This product was “absolutely delicious”, they said, as well as being “good for adults and kids”. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Spinach, Vintage Cheddar & Garlic WellingtonsSupplier: not disclosedThe consumer panel thought this was “great comfort food” with a good ratio of pastry to filling and considered the “nice crispy pastry”, which “didn’t go soggy”, a triumph. Both consumers and expert judges thought it was “a great alternative for vegetarians” with the mixture of cheese, garlic and spinach “melting in the mouth”. Chilled ready meals – Asian Chilled ready meals Innovation winner: Aldi Mamia Raspberry Mini Rice CakesSupplier: not disclosedOur consumers loved this “easy, convenient snack”. They thought the rice cakes were a “great alternative to crisps” and over half of our parent testers were attracted by the strong health credentials. Our experts liked the way Aldi took an adult product into the infant category and noted that its “bright pink colouring” would prove a hit with kids. Category champion: Aldi Moroccan HoumousSupplier: not disclosedThis deli product from Aldi was a clear winner for our consumer testers, who praised its bold packaging and innovative ingredients leading to a houmous “full of flavour”. They said it would make an ideal lunchtime snack or dip option when entertaining. Judges called it “a nice twist on a traditional recipe” with a “great balance of flavours” that “captured Morocco”. Category champion: The Co-op Free From TagliatelleSupplier: Rondanini UKOur consumers enjoyed the “nice texture” of this product and the fact it tasted just like regular pasta even though it was gluten free. Nearly half would expect to buy this product occasionally, finding it “handy” if in a hurry. The expert judges liked the “substantial texture and bite” and “nice mouthfeel” of the pasta and that it was “very close to normal pasta delivery”.Innovation winner: The Co-op Free From TagliatelleSupplier: Rondanini UKOur consumers found the concept of a 300g bag of fresh gluten-free pasta appealing and liked the clear packaging. As it is quicker to cook and perceived as healthier, younger, pre-family testers were particularly interested. The expert panel thought the “deli-style” packaging was “accessible” and “modern”, and they liked the consistency. Fish & shellfish Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Treacle Glazed Back BaconSupplier: not disclosedGlazed in treacle, this took the category beyond tried and tested bacon flavours and offered something truly different, said our judges. An overwhelming 90% of consumers thought it improved on current products already out there in the market, while two thirds (63%) agreed it brought something new and different. Bread Category champion: Co-op Irresistible Sticky Toffee PuddingSupplier: Hain DanielsGold lettering against a dark design meant this Co-Op dessert stood out as premium. Consumers thought it was a good example of its type, saying it was “delicious”, “luxurious” and had “lots of fruit and sauce”. Crystallised fresh dates were a selling point for our experts, who thought the “flavour was consistent all the way through” without being too rich or too sweet. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Pork, Bacon & West Country Cheddar Sausage RollsSupplier: not disclosedThe sausage rolls were deemed to “look top quality” by consumers, who said the bacon complemented the taste, giving it a “quite sweet”, “upmarket” feel, almost “like a pie”. Judges raved about the “intense favours, even down to crispy cheese bits”, saying the cheddar added “another dimension”. Dressings, vinegars & oils Category champion: Aldi Soy, Chilli & Ginger DressingSupplier: not disclosedThis salad dressing was described by consumers as “delicious” and “a great product for summer barbecues”. The “eye-catching” bottle was “attractive” and a huge 95% of participants said they would buy it, as an ideal product for entertaining. Our team of judges liked the “great flavour delivery”, “great packaging” and “amazing value for money”.Innovation winner: Aldi Soy, Chilli & Ginger DressingSupplier: not disclosedThe experts thought the dressing was “unusual” and “exciting”. They praised its potential uses as “dipping sauce or marinade”. Consumers loved the “spicy kick” and thought it was ideal for giving salads a tangy edge. Eighty per cent felt the product was new and different and 63% thought it was better than what was available elsewhere. Category champion: Aldi Traditional White BloomerSupplier: not disclosedA high-quality product with a “good depth of flavour” and “nice cut”, said our judges, with the look of a rustic loaf found in a bakery. Consumers agreed, praising the “soft, fluffy” texture, value for money and “appealing appearance”, coupled with a resealable bag to help prevent waste. Nearly half (45%) said they’d happily make this part of their regular weekly shop. Innovation winner: Morrisons Lime and Chilli Breast QuartersSupplier: Avara FoodsAlso a winner in innovation with a score of 17/20, our consumers found its flavours “enhanced the chicken”. Nearly three quarters of them felt it was new and different. A huge 81% of testers thought it was better than similar products on the market. Our experts also gave this “different proposition” a high score, noting it was a “nice twist on classic chicken”. Innovation winner: Lidl Mediterranean Vegetable RisottoSupplier: not disclosedSo impressed was our consumer panel it awarded the Lidl risotto a double innovation star and a top innovation score of 20/20, with 78% saying it was better than other lines out there and 80% saying it offered something different. Judges agreed, praising the “high quality and convenience of the meal” in a design concept that “is hard to do well”. Savoury pies Category champion: The Co-op Onion Bhaji SandwichSupplier: Greencore Food to GoAn “excellent tasting vegan product” said our judges, with a good texture from its vegetable filling, balanced flavours and an “attractive” appearance. “An excellent mix of ingredients,” they added, “with a great use of colours”. In fact, more than half of our consumer testers (54%) said they’d look to buy it again despite its relatively niche filling. Italian cooking sauces Individual desserts Speciality bread Category champion: Lidl Mint & Honey Pulled LambSupplier: not disclosedOur experts liked the “innovative idea” of pulled lamb and the “good punch of flavour” this product gave and enjoyed its “great taste”. Consumers scored it 45/50 and over 90% would consider buying thanks to its “lovely smell”, “great texture” and complementary ingredients. They thought it offered both value (£3.49/380g) and convenience. Coffee Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Maris Piper Chunky Oven ChipsSupplier: not disclosedAt £1.95 for 1.5kg, these chunky chips were “stunning value” said our panel of experts. “Well seasoned” with “great taste”, there was a “good contrast” between the “crispy” outside and “fluffy” inside. Shoppers loved the “upmarket” look of the packaging and the “excellent size” of the chips – which they said were better than those from some leading brands. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe Apricot & White Stilton Stuffing ParcelsSupplier: not disclosedNearly all our consumer testers agreed the “luxurious” and “festive” parcels were “new and different”, earning them two innovation stars. Despite their premium positioning they scored well on value for money. Our experts were particularly impressed by the presentation and “hand-made packaging” of the parcels. Deli Category champion: Morrisons The Best Italian Vine Ripened Cherry Tomato, Pecorino Cheese & Chilli Pasta SauceSupplier: LDH (La Doria)Boasting a “good tomato flavour” with a subtle hint of chilli, this pasta sauce was a big hit with our consumers. They also loved the “classy” bottle. Nearly 90% said they would consider buying it again, as a good standby or as part of a quick and easy midweek meal. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Mature Blue StiltonSupplier: not disclosedScoring close to maximum points, this stilton was widely enjoyed by consumers who praised its “creamy texture” and “excellent value” (£1.45/220g), along with a “classy label that flagged up its quality assurances”. “A lovely strong, classic blue cheese taste,” added our judges, offering “fantastic value for money – great for entertaining and occasions.” Innovation winner: Lidl Scottish Multi-Pack CrispsSupplier: not disclosedOur experts loved Lidl’s “new and different” range of flavours (which include Scotch Bonnet, Haggis and Aberdeen Angus Steak) and gave the “very different” crisps a high innovation score. Over 80% of consumers thought the product was “new and different”, with nearly 60% saying they were better than other multipacks currently on the market. Prepared salads Innovation winner: Aldi Veggie Burst Power PocketSupplier: not disclosedOur expert panel thought this individual-sized product was a “great innovation”, which can be popped into a bag for an “on-the-go” snack. Its “good mix of nuts and pulses” was thought to offer a “refreshing alternative”. Our consumers loved it too, with 79% saying it was “new and different” and 69% believing it was better than other products available on the shelves. Cookies & biscuits Category champion: Lidl Dark Chocolate Ginger BiscuitsSupplier: not disclosedA “great product” with “well-balanced, rich flavours,” said our experts of these Lidl biscuits, also praising the “good crunch and decent layer of chocolate.” Consumers agreed, praising their “moreish, creamy” taste, which provided a luxury look and feel. Seventy-seven per cent said they’d make the perfect weekend treat and 83% believed the product beat rivals. Category champion: Lidl Scottish Fudge BoxSupplier: not disclosedOur experts were impressed with the “deep buttery” flavour of this fudge, which was also “great value for money” at 79p. Consumers loved its “creamy” texture, Scottish provenance and eye-catching pack design. Nearly 70% thought it was better than the competition, and all agreed they would buy it again as a “nice gift”, to offer guests, or as an occasional weekend indulgence. Category champion: Lidl English Breakfast Tea BagsSupplier: not disclosedThis Lidl tea attracted plenty of praise from our consumer testers who were impressed with its “refreshing” delivery and “light flavour”, with more than 90% saying they would consider buying. The expert judges were equally enthused, calling the tea “a proper brew” with a “nice dry finish”. A “strong, rich flavour which would be perfect with a buttery biscuit,” said one. Innovation winner: Asda Rhubarb & Custard Tea InfusionSupplier: Typhoo TeaA “playful, nostalgic, aromatic” hot beverage, said judges of this Asda herbal tea infusion, with many shoppers equally intrigued by the concept of a dessert-inspired blend. Upon tasting they enjoyed the sweet aroma and balance of flavours within the tea, with many pleasantly surprised by the taste. The colourful packaging was widely praised too. Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Caprino Verde PizzaSupplier: not disclosedThis premium veggie pizza was much enjoyed by experts and consumers alike, who were attracted to the convenience of a frozen option that still “looks fresh and healthy”. Almost 70% of consumers agreed the pizza was “better than what’s already out there” with “well balanced” flavour profiles that weren’t “too overpowering”. Kids Sponsored by: Category champion: Morrisons Lime and Chilli Breast QuartersSupplier: Avara FoodsThe expert panel described this as “well balanced” and “a bit more indulgent”. They liked that the meat was “nice and moist” and a “good size” in addition to its “decent value for money”. Our consumers also thought it was a “good portion size”, with 63% saying it had an “excellent taste”. Testers gave it 48/50, with 65% saying they would buy it for a midweek meal. Soft drinks & juices Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Farmhouse Apple, Pork & Cider PâtéSupplier: not disclosedAn impressive 71% of our consumer panel said Aldi’s pâté was better than what was out there, with 65% agreeing it was both new and different. They liked its “creamy” mouthfeel and “tasty apple pieces”. Judges thought the pâté was provided in “great”, “innovative” packaging that helped to reduce food waste too. Ice cream Category champion: Aldi Aberdeen Angus Picanha Beef BurgersSupplier: not disclosedOur consumers liked the use of picanha, a cut prized in Brazil, alongside the Aberdeen Angus and scored the product 47/50. They found the burgers “thick” and “light yet meaty”, well seasoned and with a “peppery herby taste”. At £2.99 the burgers were also “great value”. Our expert judges, meanwhile, found them “beautifully moist” and “good quality”. Free-from – sweet Category champion: The Co-op Irresistible Authentic French Macaron CollectionSupplier: Rondanini UKConsumers loved the “upmarket” and “eye-catching” presentation of this pastry collection from the Co-op that included a variety of flavours, all of which were “crumbly and soft”. Our judges felt the product was of a “superb” quality and “great value” too, both “aesthetically pleasing” and “with a great flavour profile”.Innovation winner: The Co-op Irresistible Authentic French Macaron CollectionSupplier: Rondanini UKShimmery, colourful packaging saw these macarons praised by judges for tapping the seemingly ubiquitous “unicorn trend”. Sixty per cent of our consumers felt it offered something new and different, working as the perfect product to brighten up a party thanks to its “good flavours” and striking packaging. Innovation winner: The Co-op Irresistible Free From Triple Chocolate CookiesSupplier: Northumbrian Fine FoodsOur experts thought this was a “great option for the gluten-free market” and said it was a “nice touch” to have them dipped in chocolate too. Consumers found it “hard to believe” the cookies were free from and over half considered them better than similar products, as well as being “new and different”. Frozen desserts & cheesecakes Sandwiches and wraps Innovation winner: The Co-op Irresistible Super Green SaladSupplier: Freshtime UKConsumers called The Co-op’s Super Green Salad “fresh” and “colourful” and thought it offered great value at £3.20/240g. Some 79% of testers said it was “new and different,” with 46% saying they would buy it occasionally. Judges thought it was a “very innovative salad without the use of lettuce” and said they loved the inclusion of falafel. Innovation winner: The Co-op Rainbow FriesSupplier: Fullers FoodsFor many shoppers, this was a novel product with great appeal for kids. The “colourful” mix of vegetable fries was “different” and came in packaging likely to catch one’s eye. The product was “crunchy” and “not oily” with an “excellent coating”. Our judges said the fries looked “attractive on the plate” and picked out the sweet potato ones as the tastiest. World cooking sauces Category champion: Morrisons Sage & Onion SpatchcockSupplier: Avara FoodsDropping just one point across the board, the spatchcock gained praise from consumers keen on its clear cooking instructions, “subtle” flavour profile and “good size”, with almost a quarter saying they would buy it weekly. The expert judges thought the ovenproof tray and short cooking time offered “real convenience”. Category champion: Iceland Luxury Sourdough CrumpetsSupplier: not disclosed“Light and airy in texture” with a “crisp base” and “plenty of flavour” were just some of the comments about these premium Iceland crumpets, which impressed all round. Our judges praised their “good presentation” and “good use of ingredients”, all at a price of £1 for six. Some 85% of consumer testers said they’d buy these crumpets again after tasting.innovation winner: Iceland Luxury Sourdough CrumpetsSupplier: not disclosedBang on trend, the inclusion of sourdough helped “elevate this product” above the normal expectations of the crumpet category, said our judges, with consumers remarking on its “intriguing” ingredient list even before trying. As a result, this product was handed a double innovation star, with a third of consumers (62%) happy to recommend it to others. Cereals Category champion: Aldi KalettesSupplier: not disclosedThis pack of greens was well received by consumers. Described on pack as a mix of kale and Brussels sprouts ‘with a twist’, many were curious to try out the unusual veg combination. When they did they enjoyed the “really nice flavour” the product delivered and felt it “would appeal to kids” too. Our judges agreed that the product combined “the best of both vegetables”. Yoghurts Sliced meats & pâtés Individual cakes & pastries Category champion: Asda Extra Special Bake in the Box Belgian Chocolate & Salted Caramel BrownieSupplier: Symington’sNot only did this Asda kit “look amazing” in its innovative bake-in-the-box design, but it tasted “moist and delicious” with a “lovely salted caramel flavour”, said our consumers. Judges praised its value for money at only £2, saying it offered a delicious treat and “something fun to do with the children”. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Oregano & Garlic Root Vegetable CrispsSupplier: not disclosedScoring 49/50 from consumers and described as an “ideal product for entertaining”, our panel loved the “different textures” of these crisps. The packaging was noted as “unlikely to go unnoticed on the shelf”. Our experts felt the oregano added “something new and different”. They were described as “good value” at 99p for 100g. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Apple & Salted Caramel Crumble TartSupplier: not disclosedConsumers thought this dessert offered great value and was “easy to store”. They were also pleased the product came out the box looking just as good as on the packaging. Judges described it as “indulgent”, saying it was a “nice modern take on a classic”, and lauded the “delicious gooey filling” and “great flavour combinations”. Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Blue EggsSupplier: not disclosedNearly 90% of consumer testers thought these “unique” pale blue eggs, with British provenance and free-range credentials, were new and different – earning them a triple innovation score. They also delivered on taste with “lovely orange yolks”. Our experts agreed they were an exciting addition to the category, with a great taste and “unbelievable” value at £1.49 for 300g. Category champion: Lidl Cheese ColeslawSupplier: not disclosedConsumers commented that Lidl’s cheese coleslaw offered fantastic value at only 79p, with one third adding that they would buy it at least fortnightly after tasting it. They also lauded its relatively low-calorie content. Our experts pointed out it had a “lovely cheese taste and great ratio between the veg and sauce” with “a nice balance of flavours.” Overall, a “very well-executed” product. Innovation winner: The Co-op Irresistible Chicken & Cracked Black Pepper SausagesSupplier: CranswickThe experts loved that these sausages were a healthier option and that the “packaging highlighted the high protein and low-fat content”. They also liked the fact they were gluten free and “good value for money”. Our consumers scored the bangers 17/20 for innovation, with 77% saying they were “new and different”. Category champion: Iceland Arctic Royal Salt-Baked SeabassSupplier: not disclosedIceland snapped up both wins in this category with this seabass SKU, which consumers called “moist and tender”. They liked its “eye-catching” packaging, which they thought “looked posh”. Judges thought it had “real wow factor” and was a “good innovation not commonly seen” that “adds theatre”. In association with: Category champion: Lidl Orange & Mango JuiceSupplier: not disclosedLidl’s juice was awarded top marks, scoring above average in all key measures. Consumers loved the bright packaging and the 99p price. They thought the juice had a “great mango taste” and 90% said they’d be happy to add it to their basket. The expert panel added it was a “good breakfast accompaniment” with a “refreshing and fruity” flavour. Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Tuscan Sausage Tortiglioni BakeSupplier: not disclosedThe “fantastic sturdy packaging” with “wooden-style container” was considered right on trend, with 85% of our consumer panel saying they thought this was a “new and different” concept. The seasoning went down particularly well, with judges and consumers enjoying the “tangy”, “creamy” flavours with a hint of fennel. Innovation winner: Lidl Hazelnut Heart CookiesSupplier: not disclosedIn a design that simply “can’t be replicated at home” this cookie scooped the prize for innovation, its hazelnut centre a “great concept” “at the start of a mass market trend,” said our experts. Consumers awarded it 17/20 for innovation, with a whopping 91% keen to buy both before and after tasting and 75% believing it brought something new and different to the market. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Melt in the Middle Salmon FishcakesSupplier: not disclosedAldi’s fishcakes were heralded as “divine” by consumers, who thought they were “as good as M&S’ but cheaper”, with “lots of fresh salmon” that “melts in the mouth”. Experts agreed, calling them “very special for the price point” of £1.89 with the packaging “excellent with a premium feel”. Innovation winner: Morrisons The Best Brinjal PickleSupplier: AB World FoodsThis premium-positioned chutney’s unusual recipe, centred on aubergine, drove a lot of interest among shoppers. While not everyone liked it – comments varied from “authentic” to “cannot taste brinjal” – they agreed that it brought something new to the fixture. Judges agreed it was a “bold idea” – although “more like a pickle than a chutney”. Prepared fish Innovation winner: Lidl Orange & Mango JuiceSupplier: not disclosedThe juice also won for its innovation, with consumers giving it two of three stars. Nearly 80% of the consumer group thought the juice was better than other, similar products on the market. They liked the packaging, which was “cheerful” and showed the wording well. Our expert judges awarded it 16/20 for its innovativeness and noted its “great price”. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe Passion Fruit & Vanilla PossetSupplier: not disclosedExperts and consumers alike thought the reusable ceramic dish was a great feature of this posset, making it look “upmarket”. Almost 90% of consumers thought it was better than what’s out there, praising its “thickness” and flecks of vanilla as standout textures. The panel described it as “mouth-wateringly fruity” and thought it offered excellent value at 75p/90g. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Macaroni Cheese with PancettaSupplier: not disclosedOur consumer testers loved the “rich” flavours on offer, with “plenty of excellent pancetta” and “gooey and stringy” cheese among the highlights. More than a quarter said they would buy it fortnightly, while our expert judges liked the crispy topping and thought the price point (£3.99/800g) made it a great all-rounder. Frozen meals Ketchups & chutneys Ambient meal kits Speciality cheese Category champion: Iceland Luxury Thick Pork SausagesSupplier: not disclosedOur experts scored these bangers 46/50 due to their higher pork percentage, “great flavour” and “moist texture”. They also thought the packaging “communicated luxury”. Consumers gave them a score of 46/50, praising the “good flavour”. They particularly liked the “classy” packaging too, which includes RSPCA and Red Tractor assurances. Category champion: Nisa Heritage Chicken Saag Masala with Pilau RiceSupplier: not disclosedOur consumer testers thought this entry was “better” than other brands on the market, and praised its generous chicken content compared with competitors. The product was ”tender” with “good flavours”. Our judges, meanwhile, said it was a “great tasting” product with “good heat and flavour” which left a “pleasant taste in the mouth”. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe West Country Butter with Sea Salt CrystalsSupplier: not disclosedSmoooth and creamy with an added bite of salt crystals, this butter was a hit with consumer testers, who thought its West Country provenance and “sophisticated” packaging made it stand out. More than 90% said they would buy it again. Experts were impressed by the “crunch” of the sea salt and its “good value” at £1.39 for 250g. Poultry joints Burgers Category champion: Co-op Irresistible Decadent Artists’ CollectionSupplier: Lir ChocolatesDespite a premium price tag of £6 for 190g, our consumer testers thought the chocolates were a “good size” and the “great variety of flavours complemented each other”. Our expert panel was impressed by the attention to detail paid to the luxe packaging and the magnetic box, describing it as “gift-worthy” and “bold”. Category champion: Asda Extra Special Melt in the Middle Salted Caramel & Chocolate PuddingsSupplier: Classic DessertsProminent traffic light labelling was considered helpful, while our consumer testers said the “indulgent” dessert brought something new to the category thanks to its “dark, rich melting chocolate”. Our expert panel of judges found the product “fun”, reminiscent of TV’s MasterChef challenges. Chocolate Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Apricot & White Stilton Stuffing ParcelsSupplier: not disclosedWith its premium packaging and use of outdoor British pork, this seasonal treat had immediate appeal among our consumers, who loved the combination of ingredients. Our experts were impressed by the “good execution” throughout”, noting the stuffing parcels would “look great on a dinner plate” and had “lots of flavour”. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Italian Ham, Portobello Mushroom & Mascarpone Sourdough PizzaSupplier: not disclosedConsumers loved that they could “taste each individual ingredient” on this pizza, praising it for its texture as well as looking “just like the picture”. Our experts agreed the packaging was a great selling point, while an “artisan look” and “handmade feel” added to the appeal. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe CroquemboucheSupplier: not disclosedOur panel of consumers went nuts for this imposing addition to Lidl’s Deluxe range, noting the croquembouche would particularly suit special occasions and calling it a great “centrepiece dessert”. Some 90% said it was new and different. Judges were similarly enthused, calling the dessert “an excellent idea” that delivered, with “real wow factor”. Category champion: Lidl Simply Sumptuous Super Berry GranolaSupplier: not disclosedThis granola had a “lovely, moreish taste” and was packed full of “plenty of fruits, almonds and seeds,” said conusmers, with 73% keen to add it to their basket after trying. “A natural-looking, appealing product,” added our experts, who thought it was complemented by “great packaging” that showcased the provenance of ingredients. Potato products Sausages Innovation winner: Asda Extra Special Handmade Cornish Sea Salt Caramel FudgeSupplier: The Serious Sweet CompanyWith its ornate gold packaging, this fudge was a standout for our consumers, who praised its “delicious” rich, buttery flavour and “smooth” texture. Our experts agreed the packaging was “unique and gift-worthy”, while the fudge more than delivered on taste with a “good combination of sweet and salt”. Innovation winner: Lidl Black Forest Kirsch TrifleSupplier: not disclosedConsumers loved that they could taste the alcohol in this trifle, describing it as “more-ish” with an authentic Black Forest gâteau taste. Good visibility through the packaging showed how fresh it was, they thought, giving it an expensive, luxury feel. The experts thought the “retro” pud ”re-imagined an old-fashioned concept into a tasty21st century trifle”. Beef steaks Category champion: Aldi Gourmet Sea Salted Savoury CrackersSupplier: not disclosedScoring top marks with our consumers, these gourmet crackers were described as “crunchy” and “moreish”. Testers thought the crackers looked “high end” and, at 79p, that they were “excellent value”. The experts found them to have a “really excellent flavour,”enjoying the “pretty” and “premium” packaging and “nice salted taste” too. Side dishes Fruit infusions and tea Category champion: Lidl Lupilu Apple, Carrot & Parsnip Baby Fruit & Veg PouchSupplier: not disclosedScoring 49/50 even in unfinished packaging, this “good value” babyfood was our consumers’ champion. They liked the organic ingredients and flavour. Our experts also loved the use of organic and the lack of additives, seeing it as evidence the retailer is acting responsibly. The texture, flavour and use of ingredients were also appreciated. Innovation winner: Iceland Luxury Rosé Veal SaltimboccaSupplier: not disclosedTwo thirds of consumers found this “flavoursome product” an interesting addition to the market and “eye-catching”. Experts thought it was “stunning” with a “great back story” about higher-welfare British veal. All in all, a “carefully considered, well-executed” product. Overall winner of Champion of Champions 2018: Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Red Onion & Balsamic Vinegar ChutneySupplier: not disclosedThe Scottish provenance, informative presentation and competitive price of £1.19 for 310g all helped this chutney achieve top marks from our consumers. They admired the “lovely tangy flavour”, “fab colour” and liked that it spread easily. For our experts, Aldi’s chutney was ”warming”, “rounded” and “very nice overall”. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Somerset Crunchy Vintage CheddarSupplier: not disclosedDescribed as “nutty, creamy, and crumbly, with a complex flavour”, this deluxe cheddar impressed our judges, who also praised its “creamy, moreish flavour with a rounded rich aftertaste”. It was the standout entrant for consumers, too, seen as a great option for midweek that would also sit comfortably on a cheeseboard. Bakery – savoury/sweet Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe French Trimmed Pork Loin with Honey & Mustard ButterSupplier: not disclosedWith a score of 18/20 for innovation, this product was a hit with our consumers, 81% of whom thought it was a new and different addition to the market. They liked the “good-sized portion” and found it “well worth the money”. Our experts noted its French trim was innovative and “unusual”. The judges also liked that it “looked premium”. Overall winner of Innovative Product of the Year 2018: Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Baking Camembert with a Caramelised Red Onion RelishSupplier: not disclosedAwarded full marks, this Lidl Camembert “did not disappoint.” It was described as “creamy, melt-in-the-mouth” with a “sweet aftertaste” by consumers, 88% of whom would happily add it to their trolley. Judges felt it was a “real crowd-pleasing comfort food” with a “beautiful taste”. Soups Store cupboard Innovation winner: Asda Apple & Cinnamon Seed MixSupplier: IPLThe apple and cinnamon flavour profile gave this cereal topper a “seasonal twist” felt consumers, which was also praised fo rits “healthy image and versatility.” Seventy-five per cent felt it brought something new and different. Our judges praised its “innovative idea”, “authentic flavour”, “nutty crunchy texture” and “old-fashioned store cupboard packaging”. Category champion: Aldi Pickled Whole Baby BeetrootSupplier: not disclosedOur expert judges loved the price point of 52p for 440g of this product. They noted the “tender texture” of the beetroot and thought there was a “good balance” of flavours too. Over three quarters of the consumer group said they would notice the “bright label design” and British provenance. On tasting they were impressed by the “earthy, fresh” flavour. Celebrating the very best supermarket own label food and drink has to offer The Grocer’s annual Own Label Food & Drink Awards took place at London’s Hilton Park Lane this Friday.,More than 1,000 entries had been whittled down over a rigorous two-stage testing programme involving consumer and expert judges, with the winners announced by Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, and TV presenter Stacey Solomon.As always, the awards highlighted some key themes emerging in own label – with suppliers increasingly tapping into the wellness trend through the use of ‘healthier’ ingredients and clean labels, while ethically sourced meat and a focus on provenance were also much in evidence. There were also some intriguing new twists on old favourites, such as Iceland’s Sourdough Crumpets and Aldi’s Mac and Cheese with Pancetta. “The best ideas tend to be tweaks on the familiar,” says Alison Eddershaw, senior market research analyst for Cambridge Market Research, which conducted the product testing. “Innovation for consumers may be a familiar recipe or ingredient in a new context; a new ingredient they haven’t tried before or a different pack or presentation format.” In the meat categories, there was a noticeable increase in added value, with new flavours, specialist cuts and innovative preparation helping the winning products stand out. But perhaps the most significant trend was consumer engagement, with no less than 20 cooking kits entered this year, alongside restaurant-quality meals and products with real visual impact, from colourful French macaroons to striking blue eggs. This year there were once again two awards in each category: the first for a category champion, the second for the innovation winner – thus rewarding excellent execution but also encouraging innovation.Special AwardsThere were also three special awards. The Champion of Champions award recognised the best of the best – the product that stood out above all others through our two-stage judging process. The Innovative Product of the Year award celebrated the most impressive piece of innovation. Finally the Innovative Retailer of the Year award recognised the retailer who achieved the highest average innovation score across all its entries. With both suppliers and retailers consistently upping their game there were plenty of worthy contenders for all three of these overarching awards. Aldi continued to impress through its blend of quality and value, winning 21 awards, with Lidl in second place with 19 awards, and The Co-op in third with eight. Aldi also led the field in terms of total innovation with 14 awards, followed by Lidl with 13 awards and the Co-op with eight.However, Iceland – which has invested heavily in its own-label proposition by hiring chef Neil Nugent and building a £2m test kitchen – took home both the Champion of Champions Award and the Innovative Product of the Year award for 2018. The former went to its Arctic Royal Salt Baked Seabass, which had “real wow factor” for consumers and experts alike, while the innovation prize went to its Luxury 2 Rose Veal Saltimbocca, which not only tasted “spectacular”, but also delivered high animal welfare credentials and a “great back story”, our judges noted. Iceland didn’t just impress with its seabass and saltimbocca, with the frozen food specialist scoring consistently highly for innovation during the expert judging phase. But it was Morrisons that scooped the Innovative Retailer of the Year award after achieving the highest average innovation score from consumers and our experts across its entries. Cereal bars Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Chicken Mulligatawny SoupSupplier: not disclosedOur experts voted this Indian-inspired soup 40/50 and enjoyed its “good selection of ingredients”. They also thought the soup offered a “substantial” lunch proposition. Consumers found the “hearty soup” to “smell gorgeous” and “look home-made”. Three quarters thought it was better than other chilled soups and around half said it would be a definite future purchase. Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Black Treacle & Stout HamSupplier: not disclosedConsumers loved this ham from Aldi, claiming it looked “expensive” and “different” with the taste of the ham enhanced by the sweetness of the treacle – “very more-ish”. Judges thought it tasted “amazing” and were impressed that it was made from formed meat as it “looks like natural muscle structure”. Potato crisps Category champion: Aldi Specially Selected Lemon Curd Farmhouse YogurtSupplier: not disclosedOur expert panel gave this Aldi yoghurt full marks, with its presentation particularly well received. The panel thought it “very indulgent” with a “creamy flavour and a distinct long-lasting flavour of lemon”. Our consumers scored it 50/50. They liked the sharp, creamy taste, with 56% saying it would be a “refreshing” weekend treat.Innovation winner: Aldi Specially Selected Lemon Curd Farmhouse YogurtSupplier: not disclosedNot only a category champion but thanks to its “new and different” packaging also an innovation winner. The experts thought the pack was unique and its “continental aspiration” made it stand out. The glass jar gave it the “feel of a premium French product” and the packaging made a “dessert from a yoghurt”. Category champion: The Co-op Irresistible Free From Triple Chocolate CookiesSupplier: Northumbrian Fine FoodsOur industry judges found this “chewy chocolatey cookie” to be “delicious”. They liked that it contained a “generous amount of chocolate” and handed it a high score of 43/50. Our consumers also thought the cookies were “great-tasting”, though at a premium price of £1.99 more of an “indulgent treat”. Category champion: Lidl Deluxe Guatemalan Roast & Ground CoffeeSupplier: not disclosedThis “smooth”, “rich” and “refreshing” coffee delighted consumers with its “distinctive flavour”. In an “eye-catching” pack, it was suitable for entertaining – though its “strong aftertaste” wasn’t for everyone. The coffee’s “single-origin credentials” were enjoyed by our experts as were the packaging and “fantastic value for money” at £1.99 for 200g. Category champion: Lidl Blackcurrant ConserveSupplier: not disclosedPacked in a “sexy” embossed jar, this jam had “great blackcurrant integrity”, according to our experts. They praised the “well balanced” flavour, “lovely lumps of fruit” and “lovely tartness”. Our shoppers added it was “excellent value” at 99p for 450g. It was “colourful” and “thick”, they said, and “very fruity and flavoursome”. In fact, it was “like Ribena in a jar”. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe Bleu D’AffinoisSupplier: not disclosedThe novelty of this premium cheese saw it awarded a double innovation star by consumers, many of whom hadn’t tried the variety before and enjoyed its “lovely, melt-in-the-mouth texture”. The packaging was “upmarket and simple, like something you might get from a deli counter”, added experts, while the product was “deliciously creamy.” Innovation winner: Lidl Fig & Walnut BreadSupplier: not disclosedDescribed by our experts as an “attractive product that tastes gorgeous with cheese” this bread offered a “well-balanced sweet and nutty” flavour, and scored 17 on innovation from our consumer panel too. Seventy-one per cent thought it offered something new and different, 78% would be happy to buy after trying and a huge 80% felt it was better than other products on the market. Morrisons seal Innovative Own Label Retailer of the Year Award through consistently high execution averageMorrisons has really upped its game in own label in recent years. We saw that last year when The Best – its top-tier range – was voted Own-Label Range of the Year at The Grocer Gold Awards. To be crowned Innovative Own Label Retailer of the Year, it needed consistency of execution across all its entries, including innovation in standard as well as premium tiers.It also needed to convince bothconsumers and experts. Analysis from Cambridge Market Research showed Morrisons bested Lidl to achieve the highest average innovation score across all its entries in the consumer testing round, and Morrisons continued to impress in the second round, with only Iceland achieving a higher combined innovation score across shortlisted products in the blind testing phase. When the average consumer and expert scores were combined, Morrisons came top, with an average score of 34.53 out of 50. Aldi was in second place with 33.84, while Iceland was third with 33.62. Innovation winner: Lidl Deluxe Dry Aged British Beef Tomahawk SteakSupplier: Not disclosedOur consumers gave this product 17/20 on innovation, with 79% saying they would like to make this an occasional purchase. With a price of £14.99 the testers thought this steak would likely be enjoyed as a weekend treat. The expert panel thought it “brought something new to the category” and that it had “the wow factor”. Dairy & eggs
FUTSAL action continued at the Pouderoyen tarmac in the West Demerara edition of the Colors/Guinness Greatest of the Streets Football with nine intense games on Tuesday evening. In the first game of the night, Money Team were too much for their Goed Fortuin counterparts, winning by three goals to one thanks to a hat-trick from Amoniki Buntin (5th, 7th, 18th).Game two was contrasting in nature with the eventual winners Harmony Ballers getting the better of Best Road Ballers 2-1 on penalties.Jetty Gunners moved on to the next round after Shane Hamilton’s 12th minute strike helped his side past Police.Game four featured a 2-0 drubbing for Bagotstown Warriors at the hands of Hustlers thanks to John Waldron (2nd) and Rastaf Oselmo (17th).Young Ballers of Crane saw the combined efforts of Lindsay Scott (11th); Tefon Welcome (17th) and Oswin Boyce (19th) push them past the Gas Team.It took penalties to declare Goal Getters winners after their match against Classic 7 ended 1-1 after regulation time.Goal Getters’ Kevin Gordon had his fourth minute strike cancelled out by Daniel Gibson (9th) before the 2-0 penalty result.Hustlers made the best of game seven to win 2-0 thanks to Donovan Francis (7th) and John Waldron (11th) while it took Golden Warriors’ sudden-death penalties to move past Shattaville Gunners.Shattaville had Stephon Griffith’s 1st minute lead cancelled 13 minutes later through Akeem Houston before the latter won 3-1. Game nine featured almost a carbon copy result for Brothers United over West Side Starz.Matches continue tomorrow with West Side Ballers playing Brothers United, Money Team against Jetty, ESPN taking on Harmony Ballers, Tajoe’s Admiral United opposing De Kinderen and Patentia Street Ballers doing battle with Agricola.Following a break, Young Ballers will play Goal Getters, Hustlers will lace up against Golden Warriors, Showstoppers will take on Good Intent All-Stars and Hustlers will challenge Patentia Street Ballers
MASTERS BRING HOME THE GOLD—The City of Champions spoke loud and proud once again as the Pittsburgh Old Timers captured the American Old Timers League Championship for the 2013 season. Pittsburgh defeated Westerville, Ohio 79-70 Saturday, April 20 in Cincinnati to bring the title back to “The Burgh” for the 4th time in the twenty-five year history of the league. Former NCAA standout and Detroit Piston tryout as well as Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League champion, All-Star and MVP, Thomas “Bum” Coates, was named MVP. Greg Harris was leading scorer and Ken Roebuck was the leading rebounder. Pictured team members, not in order: Tom “Bum” Coates, James Larkins, Mike Whitelock, Vincent Whitelock, Ken Roebuck, Greg Harris, Tyrone Curtis, Wayne “Spud” Jenkins, Lenny Franklin, Alvin Turner, Bill Williams, Mike Dean, Mitch Davenport, Prentice Parrish, League Commissioner; and Jerome “Preacher” Smith. Not pictured team members: Clarence “Hop” Hopson, Mitch James and Ron Moore.
Kolkata: The state BJP is targeting 22 Lok Sabha seats where election will be held in 2019. The 22 seats cover 154 Assembly constituencies and every Assembly segment will be placed under a state leader. This was decided at a meeting held between state president Dilip Ghosh and national president Amit Shah.Though BJP has finished the race in three-tier Panchayat election as a distant second, the party’s leaders at both national and local levels have expressed satisfaction over the performance of the party in Purulia and Junglemahal. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIt has been decided that special drives will be conducted in these two districts. Various NGOs, without holding any party flag, will go to these districts to distribute books and clothes to the students.It has been learnt that RSS workers are secretly running schools in Jhargram and they have brainwashed not only the students but their parents as well and convinced them that the projects taken up by the state government to develop the district are actually Central government projects.Some local CPI-M cadres have also joined them to disturb peace in Belpahari, Binpur and Lalgarh, where peace has been restored by the efforts of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.