Welcome to the 2008 Readers’ Choice Awards for nutritional ingredients. This year, we spread the love by splitting the survey coverage – the Food Processing Readers’ Choice Awards announcements and analysis were in last month’s issue. In case you missed it, you can find it here. There you’ll find the top suppliers in 41 categories of ingredients, equipment and services.
Readers' Choice Awards
Following are the winners in nine categories of healthful ingredients. Despite so much interest in the so-called “superfruits,” we found the category so fragmented among suppliers that we could not name a clearcut winner, even though the category appeared on our survey form.
Otherwise, you’ll see many familiar names among the suppliers listed, despite some jostling among them for placement.
Why do we do it? There is great power in the collective wisdom of our readers. A positive referral from another product developer carries more weight than any advertisement, spec sheet or salesperson’s pitch. And that’s who votes each year in these Readers’ Choice Awards: your fellow product developers, not we editors.
The survey form is an unaided recall survey. No supplier names were suggested. Recipients of the e-mail survey represent all categories of the food and beverage industry, with an emphasis on those developing better-for-you foods.
The ratio of positive comments in the Wellness Foods survey was even higher than that in the bigger Food Processing poll. Compliments outnumbered complaints by about seven to one. “The customer service from suppliers is getting better and better [although] I am sure our establishment only works with suppliers with the right technical know-how,” said one respondent.
“The companies I listed are great to work with,” wrote another. “Customer service is awesome. I am very satisfied with all my suppliers.” But there were a few critics. One product developer wrote: “Preferred Supplier programs at a large company like ours are limiting the need for sales representatives to call or visit individuals – they know that you will have to call them if you are in the need of anything new. It’s like they have you captive and simply need to satisfy individuals in Supply Management and not the technical community. Overall, I am not very satisfied with this trend.”
Or: “Documentation is sometimes the obstacle that keeps us from introducing new ingredients. We look for specs, kosher, organic, micro limits, MSDS [material safety data sheets], etc., before approving an ingredient, and many suppliers are slow to provide the information. Maybe they don’t have some of the documentation developed.” The survey was open to those Wellness Foods readers who indicated they purchase these ingredients. We applied no definition to the description of what makes a particular vendor the “best.” Best was what is best for you and your operation. Efficacy, service, availability and cost can then be weighed according to your needs. Here are the choices you made.