Kraft Foods, maker of more than 70 brands of grocery products, and H-E-B, operator of 286 food stores largely in Texas, have been named the Category Masters of the Year for 2000.

The official presentation took place at the fifth annual ACNielsen Category Masters Conference here August 16.

The awards program recognizes one packaged goods manufacturer and one retailer that have demonstrated the best category management practices in the preceding year. Category management is a consumer-focused business practice that essentially uses sales data to make decisions about shelf placement and merchandising.

The program is sponsored by Brand Marketing and Supermarket News, two business-to-business publications at Fairchild Publications in New York. John Karolefski, editor-in-chief of Brand Marketing, presented the awards on stage in a packed ballroom at one of the conference’s general sessions. Accepting the awards were Duncan MacNaughton, H-E-B’s general manager-grocery procurement and merchandising, and Christopher Hogan, Kraft’s director of sales information & technology.

H-E-B is one of the largest regional food retailers in the United States. The supermarket chain, owned and operated by the H.E. Butt family, operates 286 stores mostly in southern and western Texas, with seven stores in northern Mexico.

“Category management is about understanding customer behavior, and using that data to market to them and deliver food, drugstore and seasonal/GM solutions,” said H-E-B’s MacNaughton.

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Since 1996, Kraft Foods, has generated more than $400 million in added annual sales, from newly introduced products. Considering itself a top marketplace innovator, Kraft has been granted 500 new patents since 1990. Kraft markets more than 70 brands including: Kraft cheeses and dinners; Oscar Mayer meats; Maxwell House and Nabob coffees; Post ready-to-eat cereals; Jell-O desserts; Kool-Aid beverages; Philadelphia Cream Cheeses; and Stove Top stuffing mixes.

“Category management continues to evolve,” said Kraft’s Hogan. “Technology will be the catalyst that can make all aspects of category management more accessible and more real time, more applicable and transferable across all categories.”

Readers of Brand Marketing and Supermarket News determined the winners. In parallel voting, manufacturers chose three top retailers, while retailers chose three top manufacturers. The choices were ranked in order of preference, and the results tabulated.

The selection criteria for the Category Masters awards focused on identifying the organizations that have the right people, the right information and the right strategy in place for category management.

The ACNielsen Category Masters Conference brings together retailers and manufacturers to exchange insights and knowledge on consumer-focused category management business practices.

Supermarket News is the only nationally distributed weekly trade publication covering food retailing. Brand Marketing is the only monthly magazine covering the marketing discipline across all categories of consumer products and services.