The awards have a unique two-stage judging process involving consumer panel tests and expert panel tests.
The Consumer research is conducted by Cambridge Market Research, an independent market research company with more than 30 years’ experience in testing food and drink products.
Each product is tested by a minimum sample of 50 consumers from six sampling sessions across the UK. Entrants are able to choose the consumer base most appropriate for their entry: family, pre/post family, or a representative UK sample.
Tests are conducted in-home under fully controlled conditions. Each product is evaluated individually, having been prepared as you would in a home environment.
After assessing pre-trial interest and visual appeal, the product is tasted and rated on a number of key measures covering taste, texture, packaging, value for money and pre- and post-trial buying intentions.
Every entry is also rated on originality, innovation and relevance to the consumer overall. Finally, consumers have the opportunity to give their own spontaneous comments both in written form and as part of a group discussion at the end of every test.
Each product is sense checked using two sets of norm scores drawn from the database of the previous four years of testing for The Grocer Own Label Food & Drink Awards, and the current Fast Foodfax® database of innovations tested in that category of products.
A copy of the consumer report that is then created – incorporating ratings and a written analysis, including verbatim consumer feedback and a summary consumer verdict – is sent to all entrants as part of their entry fee.
The second round of judging is conducted by a specially selected panel of industry experts with diverse experience to ensure they are ideally placed to be able to decide which products are outstanding in their field.
The esteemed panel of judges includes development chefs, nutritionists, brand developers, food journalists, independent buyers and other industry experts.
Products are blind tested and prepared in professional kitchens in London.
The winners in each category are decided from the combined scores of the consumer and expert judges, with different weighting and emphasis applied in selecting the Category Champion and Innovation Winner.