As consumers search for value, Farm Boy delivers with its stable of private-label products

We get the lowdown on Farm Boy’s private-label strategy
Kristin Laird
Alison McFarlane
Alison McFarlane

Private-label brands are having a moment. Increasingly, consumers are turning to store brands as food prices remain high and the cost of living increases. One of the front-runners in this space is Farm Boy. The Empire-owned banner offers more than 2,000 private-label products spanning various categories including snacks, bakery, frozen, deli and condiments, and has built a loyal fan following in the process. 

Here, Farm Boy’s private label product manager Alison McFarlane gives Canadian Grocer a behind-the-scenes look at the strategy and design process that goes into the retailer’s store brand.

Farm Boy’s media kit says, “When our buyers set out to find the best products for our line of Farm Boy private-label items, their search begins close to home.” Can you walk me through that process? 

We’re always in search of exciting new Farm Boy private-label products to enrich our collection. Actively connecting with the community, touring facilities and meeting with manufacturers are integral parts of our ongoing efforts. Building enduring relationships with local producers remains a key focus for us. Through collaborations with smaller-scale manufacturers, we’ve been able to foster innovation, craft unique recipes and ensure value for our customers, as seen in favourites like Farm Boy Roasted Banana Blast Ice Cream and Farm Boy Italian Style Meat Lasagna.

READ: How grocers can maintain momentum in centre store

How do you ensure private-label packaging conveys quality?

Quality is at the forefront of our priorities, guiding our choices when selecting items for our private label. Equally important to us is ensuring the factors that initially sparked our excitement during the product’s development are the same factors that resonate with customers when they encounter it on our shelves. To accomplish this, our product and packaging development are closely intertwined, placing a strong emphasis on conveying the story, benefits and value of each product.

farm boy private label
Farm Boy products span a range of categories from dips (Eda-Yummy Spicy Kale Dip) to soup (West African Peanut and Hungarian Style Beef Goulash) to frozen desserts (Roasted Banana Blast Ice Cream).

How do you make certain the product design process is agile and quick enough to respond to trends and product opportunities?

We are continually developing new items, with hundreds coming down the pipeline simultaneously. Luckily, our exceptional team has devised an extremely efficient development process, allowing us to swiftly stock our shelves with new products within weeks, when required. 

READ: Amid high inflation and supply chain issues, private label powers up

What is the process for identifying and addressing white-space opportunities within a category?

We consistently assess the performance of various categories, actively seeking opportunities to elevate our offerings and add value to our customer’s shop. As part of this ongoing process, we pay close attention to customer favourites through our annual Fan Faves campaign – listening to what resonates with people and understanding the elements they love. This not only helps us curate a selection that aligns with popular preferences, but also allows us to craft a more engaging shopping experience. It’s all about connecting with our customers and ensuring that each product on our shelves is not just an item, but a story that adds value to their lives.

What lies ahead for the Farm Boy private-label brand?

We’re excited to expand our private-label selection, with more than 300 products set to launch this year. As we look ahead to 2024, our focus is not only on quantity, but on delivering a diverse and exciting range for our customers. Customers can anticipate more seasonal items, incorporation of global flavours and putting new spins on old customer favourites.

This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s February 2024 issue.

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