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How Rothbury Farms labels its award-winning croutons

How Rothbury Farms labels its award-winning croutons
Earning ChefsBest awards and adding the consumer-trusted medallion to its croutons packaging has helped Rothbury Farms increase sales and get into new retailers.

In this era of clean labels and simple package design, why does Rothbury Farms work so hard to include the ChefsBest award medallion on its croutons packaging? The bottom line (literally) is because it boosts sales by helping the brand win the consumer’s trust.

Research also backs up that claim. Two-thirds (67%) of consumers said they are more likely to purchase a ChefsBest award-winning product than one without the ChefsBest medallion on-pack, according to a 2015 study by uSamp (renamed Instantly Inc. and now part of Survey Sampling Intl./SSI).

Not familiar with the competition? The ChefsBest medallion appears on millions of packages nationally. And in early 2018, ChefsBest conducted its 500th evaluation, a major milestone. It is used by big brands you’d recognize: Welch’s, Tetley, Goya, Vitafusion, SlimFast and Kellogg’s. In fact, just this summer, Kellogg’s Eggo Nutri-Grain Frozen Waffles earned the ChefsBest Best Taste Award in the Whole Wheat/Multigrain Frozen Waffles category.

ChefsBest awards cannot be bought; they must be earned. And Rothbury Farms Croutons have been ChefsBest award winners since 2004. Rothbury Farms brand manager Christina Lehtinen explains more about the program and its benefits.

What is the ChefsBest competition?

Lehtinen: ChefsBest uses a rigorous sensory evaluation process, known as SAQA(r) (Sensory Attribute Quality Analysis), and a panel of executive-level chefs trained as Master Tasters to identify award-winning food and beverage products.

As part of ChefsBest’s proprietary process that determines qualification for a ChefsBest medallion, Certified Master Tasters blindly evaluate products against a quality definition. The Master Tasters identify and measure the sensory experience across the five modalities of appearance, aroma, taste, flavor and texture, and determine the impact of each attribute on the overall quality. At the end of the evaluation, the data from the Master Tasters is analyzed and award qualification is determined.

Why participate in the ChefsBest sensory evaluation process?

Lehtinen: The ChefsBest team has built a trusted reputation for identifying high-quality products through the ChefsBest Excellence Award and Best Taste Award. Their independent executive-level chefs award products for their taste and quality.

Our Rothbury Farms Croutons have been award winners since 2004. We use the ChefsBest award medallion in our sales material and on our packaging. The award gives our Rothbury Farms Croutons an advantage over products without the award. The award lets potential customers know our product has gone through ChefsBest’s rigorous sensory testing process and that it was identified as the top product in a competitive set or as an excellent quality product when there is no competitive set to test against in the market. This is an easy and effective way to build confidence in our product.

It would be costly and difficult to substantiate legal claims conducted by consumer research. The ChefsBest award gives us a cost-effective way to achieve a similar goal.

What’s the value of promoting the Excellence Award and Best Taste Awards on food labels, especially in today’s environment where “clean” and simple labels are the trend?

Lehtinen: ChefsBest is an independent, unbiased organization. They have built a trusted relationship with customers who look for products with their award on it across all product lines in the grocery store.

The food market is extremely competitive, the majority of manufacturers respond to trends to meet customer demands, including the “clean” and “simple” label trends. Rothbury Farms Croutons already strives to keep a clean label and some of our competitors do too. So the ChefsBest award gives us an additional reason to stand out; as a proven high-quality product. When a potential customer is making a decision to purchase our product or another, we want to be the award-winning product to tip the scales in our favor.

And once the ChefsBest award is won, no other product can license the award until the next evaluation period, which helps maintain the value and integrity of the award.

The ChefsBest award increases our sales volume and helps us get into new retailers. It is a way to differentiate ourselves from the competition, and a great way to introduce ourselves to new customers. We have consistently used the ChefsBest Award on our packaging and our internal and external marketing materials.

Displaying the ChefsBest "Best Taste" Award medallion on Rothbury Farms Croutons has helped the brand gain market share.

How do you measure the effectiveness of promoting the award(s) on the packaging?

Lehtinen: It is difficult to measure any specific marketing tactic. We look at the award as additional support and validation that our Rothbury Farms Croutons are a premium product and a step above the competition. Customers have a choice in our category and the ChefsBest award is another way for us to differentiate ourselves. We know our market share has grown since adding the award to the package and we have seen the advantage of having the award when meeting with new retailers.

How long do you promote the award(s) on a package?

Lehtinen: The ChefsBest award is substantiated for three years. This means you get a good value out of a single license and can keep the award on your packaging during this time. The length of the license makes it easy to manage packaging inventory.


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