At PLMA show, a heyday for store brands

Private label conferences hears of speedy growth, targeting women and new categories for private label to exploit

At the annual Private Label Manufacturers Association show in Chicago this week, Nielsen reported that store brands are doing better than ever, with sales reaching US$111.6 billion in the U.S. for the 52-week period ending August 31, 2013.

That figure is 18.5% greater than for calendar 2009. By comparison, national brand sales during that period were $529.4 billion, up 8.0% since 2009.

“Private brand focus is unprecedented, and best-in-class retailers are investing in brand management activities like their branded peers,” said Todd Hale, senior vice-president at Nielsen told conference attendees.

“With slowing population growth and pressures from current and unforeseen competition, winning retailers will be those who step up their innovation efforts to connect with and create demand for their offerings across diverse and evolving population segments," he added.

Hale suggested that retailers look to rethink their private-label category investment and specifically focus on what he called the "shoppers that matter most." In most categories, these include women.

Canadian retailers were well represented at the annual PLMA show with buyers from Overwaitea, Sobeys, Safeway Canada and Metro Richelieu attending.

There was also a Canadian pavilion featuring products from more than a dozen manufacturers selling proteins, pasta, bread, prepared foods and more.

“We are seeing a lot of interest in new flavours, especially our ravioli stuffed with kale and our organic lines,” said Fiore Napolitano, vice-president at pasta and sauce maker O Sole Mio of Boisbriand, Que. “We also see a continued demand for gluten-free products and are starting to bring more and more into our mix.”

Exhibitors offered thousands of products, including prepared foods, frozen and refrigerated, ingredients, snacks, gourmet and specialty items, including gluten-free and certified organic products, more than double the number from last year.

A growing number of non-food exhibitors were selling health and beauty care, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, vitamins and nutrition, household, kitchen and cleaning products, DIY and general merchandise.

Among the special features in this area was a Pet Pavilion to call attention to the rising importance of store brand pet foods and pet care.

The annual PLMA show wrapped up on Tuesday.

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