Store Brands - Sept 2018

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Store Brands’ Growth 100

Livening up mature product categories

How to differentiate in fresh September 2018 |

Behind its popular organic and free-from private brand, SuperValu continues to innovate to help its retail partners differentiate

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Volume 40 No. 9 September 2018


Editor’s Take




Around the Industry


Getting Social


End Cap




Sowing Wild Harvest


Behind its popular organic and free-from private brand, SuperValu continues to innovate to help its retail partners differentiate




Pasta and Rice


Frozen Entrees



Vitamins and Supplements

24 STORE BRAND’S GROWTH 100 Growth spurt Private brands are thriving in sales and units in several segments, from pest control to refrigerated meats to wine

29 TRENDING Fresh takes on mature products


How retailers and manufacturers of eggs, coffee and paper towels can inject own brand categories with new life

32 FOCUS ON FRESH Captive at the perimeter Get creative to differentiate your fresh sections and lock down shoppers’ loyalty

34 FLAVORS & INGREDIENTS What millennials want

Largest U.S. generation loves to play with its food, presenting opportunities for private brand product developers

Store Brands (ISSN-0190-9851; USPS # 0488-370) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscriptions: One year, $95; two years, $146. One year, Canada $112; two years, Canada $150, One year, foreign $175; two years, foreign $285. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a US bank in US funds.Single copies $10, except foreign, where postage will be added. Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at or(877) 652-5295. Canada Post: Canada returns to be sent to IDS, P.O. Box 456, Niagara Falls, ON, L2E6V2. Periodicals postage rates paid at Deerfield, IL and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: send all address changes to Store Brands PO Box 1842 Lowell MA 01853. Copyright 2018 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48106. The contents of this publication can not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for claims and representations. 4

Store Brands / September 2018 /

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EDITOR’S TAKE Business Intelligence for an Evolving Market

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Vice President/Brand Director


Eric Savitch


EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief

Lawrence Aylward

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Lauren Hartman

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Contributing Writers

Retailers wanting to differentiate in the fresh section are aiming to tempt customers with products of a certain flair and flavor. They want to offer ingenious products that customers can’t get anywhere else — not from the competing grocer across the street or the fast-food joint down the road. Which brings us to fried chicken. ... Fried chicken? I know, fried chicken isn’t exactly inventive. But it doesn’t have to be. Just ask Publix. For years, Publix Super Markets has drawn a massive following for its fried chicken, which it sells in its deli department as a private brand. People in Florida, where most of Lakeland, Fla-based Publix’s 1,120 stores are located, have been cock-a-doodle-doing about its fried chicken for years. It’s different, they say, because it’s just dang good. How good is it? I, for one, love it — some of the best bird I’ve ever had. But I decided to go to the top of the food pundit chain to get a professional opinion, consulting Tampa Bay Times Food Critic Laura Reiley about the virtues of Publix’s fried chicken. Reiley, who has cooked professionally and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, had kind things to say about Publix’s fowl, noting that it has a good crispiness to it and a “plush interior ratio,” which is food critic speak for having favorable moisture and texture. Publix’s fried chicken is prepared on-site; it’s soaked in brine before being double-breaded and deep fried. “The breading isn’t too salty, and it has a pleasant mix of spices,” Reiley says. “It doesn’t have grease overload like some fried chicken.” Publix has also benefitted from consumers who don’t want to make fried chicken at home because it takes too long, is too messy and because they realize they can’t make it as good as Publix. But the popularity of Publix’s fried chicken may be facing its toughest test yet with millennials, now America’s largest generation. “Millennials tend to be a little nervous about the word ‘fried,’” Reiley says. Millennials, whose spending power is growing by the day, also want healthier foods that are free-from undesirable ingredients. They want foods that are sustainably sourced, meaning that the fried chicken they do eat had better come from chickens that were free to roam the range. Millennials also crave bold flavors, so they want fried chicken with a twist. They are getting that: Spicy and sweet Korean fried chicken is all the rage, as is cayennespiced Nashville hot fried chicken. (Incidentally, Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle offers a Nashville hot fried chicken for which I would walk on my knees in the snow for a takeout order.) “The way to capture millennials’ attention with a classic [dish] like fried chicken is by offering ethnic spins like that,” Reiley says. Aware that retailers are trying to differentiate in the fresh department, Reiley isn’t surprised Publix is still getting a lot of mileage out of its fried chicken, which it introduced about 30 years ago. “It’s one of those foods that we all kind of agree on,” she says. “I don’t see it going away anytime soon.” If a retailer can hatch a killer recipe for fried chicken, it can differentiate. Publix is proof.

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Store Brands / September 2018 /


By Ryne Misso

Ryne Misso is the director of marketing for Market Track, a global provider of advertising and promotional tracking, brand protection and e-commerce pricing solutions. He can be reached at rmisso@


Amazon’s private brand positioning presents challenges for brick-and-mortar retailers A recent study from InfoScout found that 100 percent of households buy private brands, and the average household is spending $1,200 annually on such products. In turn, we have witnessed an explosion of private brands from grocers, mass merchants and drugstores to try and seize the growing opportunity. Not only have they developed store brand offerings in new categories, but they’ve also introduced different tiers of private brands within categories — spanning from bottom to top shelf — to meet the needs of different shoppers. Retailers aren’t relying on shoppers to find private brands on their own, either. Data from market intelligence firm MarketTrack showed that in 2017, private brands accounted for 16 percent of weekly circular promotions. That share was much higher for certain private brand-forward retailers like Aldi (72 percent), Save-A-Lot (43 percent) and Harris Teeter (28 percent). Retailers are actively supporting their store brands with marketing efforts to build awareness of their brands and to drive purchases over national brand options. Though store brands have made inroads against national brands at many retailers, a new threat has emerged that could hurt retailers like Aldi and Save-A-Lot in their efforts to grow their store brands. Surprise, surprise, that threat is from Some online retailers’ homepages have turned into modern storefronts. Shoppers can visit a site like and find advertising, promotions and other compelling reasons to make purchases, much like a brickand-mortar storefront might use circular ads, in-store displays or a samples table in the same way. And if the homepage is the modern storefront, then search-result pages have turned into modern store shelves. How prominently a brand is featured on these digital shelves largely determines whether or not an online shopper will pick that product. An analysis of Amazon’s digital shelves

Store Brands / September 2018 /

conducted by Market Track revealed that is featuring its private brands more prominently than many brick-and-mortar retailers are in print circulars. Market Track’s study analyzed the first row of search results for 50 unbranded search terms, spanning food/ drink, home consumables, personal care and pet categories on The study found that 18 percent of first-row search results were for Amazon. com’s or Whole Foods Market’s private brands, slightly higher than the 16 percent print circular share allocated to store brands across U.S. grocery, mass and drugstores. Across all 50 search terms, 90 unique brands appeared in the results.’s and/or Whole Foods’ brands accounted for three of the top five brands appearing in the first row of results. When isolating consumables categories that are more commonly purchased online,’s and Whole Foods’ share grows much larger. Among firstrow results for personal care search terms, for example, 32 percent of the listings were for’s or Whole Foods’ private brands. As shoppers grow more comfortable buying food and beverages online, it’s safe to expect to see more Amazon and Whole Foods brands in premium listing positions. What’s especially interesting about these findings is that many of the and Whole Foods brands appear as sponsored listings, ensuring their products are among the first shoppers see, regardless of conversion rates, price, ratings and reviews. This is yet another reason grocery stores, mass merchants and drugstores have to assess their omni-channel marketing and merchandising plans, and strategize on how to grow in a world with People are only growing more comfortable buying groceries and other consumables online. is making sure that when they do, they are finding’s and Whole Foods’ brands right at the very top of their search results. Every time a shopper finds an product in the first row of his search, decides to try it and discovers they love it, it is a threat to the growth of equivalent store brands everywhere else. And if there’s one thing Market Track’s study revealed about Amazon. com, it’s that the online behemoth is taking steps to make it easier for people to find its brands when browsing its site. SB


Lunch and learn PLMA’s CEO-Only Seminar offers C-suite executives the chance to get caught up on the industry’s most-timely topics

By Lawrence Aylward

Left to Right: Alan Noddle, Matt Thornhill and Ernest DelBuono will be the featured speakers at the CEO-Only seminar on Nov. 13. Noddle will speak on “Understanding What Is Going on in Today’s Retailing Market.” Thornhill will present on “Making Your Company Millennial Friendly” and DelBuono will address crisis management.

Say you’re a C-suite executive and have the chance to attend a lunch and a seminar during a trade show you’re attending, where you can learn how to better understand the current dynamics of your industry as well as how to improve your company’s work environment. You’d probably be interested in attending, no? Well, here’s your chance. On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) will hold its third-annual CEO-Only seminar in conjunction with the Private Label Trade Show. The seminar is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, which is adjacent to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, site of the trade show. The seminar is open to individuals who hold positions as CEO, chief operations officer and other upper management titles by which they exercise power over the strategy and actions of their companies. Speakers for this year’s seminar


include Alan Noddle, the former president of Ahold USA and Daymon Worldwide; Matt Thornhill, founder of the Institute for Tomorrow; and Ernest DelBuono, a corporate communications expert. The title of Noddle’s talk is “Understanding What Is Going on in Today’s Retailing Market.” Thornhill will speak on “Making Your Company Millennial Friendly” and DelBuono will address crisis management. Peggy Davies, PLMA’s vice president of association relations, says the international trade group wanted to find the best speakers for the most-timely industry topics, including Noddle speaking about the current state of grocery retail. “Due to a busy mergers and acquisitions environment, consolidation and other marketplace factors, the competitive landscape for retailers and store brand manufacturers promises to be altered,” Davies says, noting a recent article from The Wall Street Journal stating the U.S. grocery industry is in

Store Brands / September 2018 /

one of its most challenging financial stretches in decades. Regarding Thornhill’s presentation, Davies notes that millennials value a good work-life balance. To them, success is having control over how and when they work and accumulating various life experiences. Hence, Thornhill will discuss ways to make the workplace more attractive to millennials. For a CEO, the foundation of a solid crisis management plan is transparency, authenticity and accountability, Davies says, providing insight into DelBuono’s presentation. “The role of the CEO in today’s era of transparency is more focused upon than ever,” Davies says. “In a crisis, the role of upper management is to lead and be seen as strong and decisive. The proliferation of social media has transformed the way we get information, and online platforms deliver news and visuals quickly. The response is most effective when the CEO is visible, caring and engaged. Personal investment by the most powerful individual in the company sends a reassuring signal to employees, customers, and shareholders.” Davies says the PLMA developed the CEO-Only seminar because formal education for people in upper management, while beneficial, can be very timeconsuming. The PLMA introduced the program in 2016 because it felt the best approach to take for C-level education was through peer-to-peer discussion with other executives in the same or allied industries, supplemented by instruction from experts on specific subjects of timeliness and relevance to today’s management, Davies says. “Our program is devoted to discussing the challenges and opportunities facing a company’s ultimate decision-maker; to address the unique problems that these leaders face; and to help find answers to their success-or-failure problems,” Davies adds. For more information on the CEOonly seminar, contact Peggy Davies at 630-605-3368 or SB

AroundtheIndustry Analysis

A year later, isn’t ruling grocery If anything,’s acquisition of Whole Foods lit a fire under other grocery retailers

By Lawrence Aylward may just be hitting its stride when it comes to selling Whole Foods Market’s private brand products online.

It has been just over a year since Amazon. com officially took over Whole Foods Market after purchasing the organic and natural foods retailer for $137 billion in cash. At the time, some industry pundits made it sound like Seattle-based would soon take over the grocery industry — much like the evil Thanos taking over the universe in “Infinity War” — after it acquired the Austin, Texas-based retailer. Some pundits made it sound like Walmart, The Kroger Co., Albertsons Cos. and other grocery retailers would meet a doomed fate at the hands of Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. After the acquisition, grocery stocks dropped like a sack of potatoes. Panicked investors sold their shares in Walmart, Kroger and other retailers. But fastforward to now. The grocery industry has changed, but Walmart, Kroger and other retailers are going strong. And at


least two things have been realized: One, is not evil; it’s just a one of the shrewdest companies in the history of retail. And, two, is not taking over the grocery industry. If anything,’s acquisition of Whole Foods lit a fire under other grocery retailers to up their games. Just look at the online businesses of Walmart and Kroger, the nation’s top two grocery retailers, which are flourishing. They are investing heavily in online ordering and free grocery pickup as well as home delivery. Retailers in general are also using their private brands programs to differentiate. Look at some of the investments they have made in premium private brands this year to offer exclusive products they know their customers can’t get anywhere else. Earlier this year, I spoke to private brand consultant Todd Maute, a part-

Store Brands / September 2018 /

ner with New York-based brand agency CBX, who told me his “gut feeling” is that Amazon doesn’t want to rule the grocery world. But ruling the retail world is another matter. “As Amazon continues to expand into more and more categories … that is where I think Amazon will rule the world,” Maute said. “I think Amazon is just going to continue to go after one segment of business after another.” Maute’s point is that wants a sliver of the $800-billion grocery pie, not the whole pie. In a story on, reporter Nathaniel Meyersohn recently wrote that “the impact of [’s acquisition of Whole Foods] has been overblown.” No doubt. From a brick-and-mortar standpoint, Whole Foods, with 470 stores, has a lot of building to do to catch Walmart, which has more than 4,300 stores. And brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going anywhere as long as retailers continue to adapt to their customers’ needs.

That’s not to say Whole Foods isn’t growing. It is — it’s same-store

sales have grown about 3 percent

since being owned by, and they will continue to grow. That’s not to say Whole Foods isn’t growing. It is — it’s same-store sales have grown about 3 percent since being owned by, and they will continue to grow. And don’t forget that may be just hitting its stride with selling Whole Foods’ products online, especially its 365 Everyday Value private brand. But a year after’s acquisition of Whole Foods, it’s clearly not the end of the grocery world as we know it. That said, the battle for market share in brick-and-mortar stores and online will only intensify. SB

You ain't seen nothin'yet!

More exhibitors. More categories. More products. It’s hard to believe but PLMA’s 2018 Private Label Trade Show will be bigger and better than ever. Why? Because store brands are setting records for consumer popularity and sales. Whether it’s bricks-and-mortar or online, big chains or small specialty retailers, store brands are the way to go. Food, snacks, beverages, health and beauty, household and GM. Plus, the show has added kitchenware and housewares, self-care wellness and now private label wine. As the man says “You ain’t seen nothin yet!”

Nov. 11-13 • Chicago Visitor registration is now open. Telephone (212) 972-3131 or online at Presented by the Private Label Manufacturers Association


Q A with Marie Horodecki-Aymes Director of Design and Packaging for Private Brands, Metro How did you come into the world of private brands? Twenty-five years ago (omidog!), I was recruited by a French retailer that was creating its private brands department. I’ve never left retail since. Describe the private brands industry in one word. Fascinating, fast-moving, global, hyperlocal, creative, innovative. Pick your favorite. What do you like most about the industry? It’s a catalyst of our society with its trends, preoccupations and innovations. What do you dislike most about the industry? I’m hyperactive, so sometimes things don’t move fast enough for me.

Marie Horodecki-Aymes, a world traveler, with her family on the Tokyo subway.

What one great thing does the industry have going for it? As retailers, we have the opportunity to globally improve the life of our customers and our environment with our products. We are one of the few industries to be able to do that. What is the industry’s biggest challenge? E-commerce is an easy answer. That said, the biggest challenge I see is how to find and engage with the right suppliers that promote innovation, qualitative knowhow and differentiation. If you could create one private brand product, what would it be? The perfect olive oil — as good as the one my parents produced with our harvest in


Store Brands / September 2018 /

the south of France when I was a child. Who is your hero and why? Simone Veil. She was a French politician, who after being in concentration camps during World War II, decided to become a lawyer and made her way in a man’s world during the 1960s. She created new regulations for women’s rights, and she was a great advocate of the European community to prevent another war. She did all those remarkable things with genuine kindness and respect. I would not be here today without her work. What trait in yourself do you attribute most to your success? For me, status quo has never been an option. I’m a holistic data analyst and curious about everything around me. What’s the best advice someone ever gave you? If you don’t try, you will never know. It’s 5 o’clock (or later), what do you do for fun? First, I drive to the swimming pool (I need that to decompress), and then I spend the evening cooking and chatting with my teenagers, my husband and our friends. You have a week off. Where do you go and why? Rome, as you never need a reason to go to Rome. If you were born 100 years ago, what would you do for a living? Be an explorer or a writer. What song do you love to crank up in the car? The soundtrack to the movie “La La Land.” Volume at the max to cover my voice, as I’m a terrible singer. SB

Behind its popular organic and free-from private brand, SuperValu continues to innovate to help its retail partners differentiate



Store Brands / September 2018 /

uperValu’s Wild Harvest store brand is anything but tame — it’s a beast of a product line that continues to grow in SKUs, sales and popularity. So forgive executives of the Eden Prairie, Minn.-based grocery wholesaler and retailer for expressing their fervor about the future of the organic and free-from private brand. “Wild Harvest is just on fire,” says Anne Dament, SuperValu’s executive vice president of retail, marketing and private brands. “What we’re seeing in Wild Harvest is an own brand that is taking on a life of its own,” adds Mike Stigers, SuperValu’s executive vice president of wholesale. Wild Harvest turned 10 years old this year, but it feels like the store brand is just getting started. That perception was evident at SuperValu’s 2018 National Expo for Independent Grocery Retailers in July in St. Paul, Minn. Product kiosks and signage promoting Wild Harvest dominated the main hall of the convention center where the event was held. Clearly, Wild Harvest was being celebrated. And why not? SuperValu serves more than 3,300 independent retailers across 48 states and operates 114 retail stores under banners including Cub Foods, Hornbachers, Shop ’N Save and Shoppers. The company realizes what it has in Wild Harvest — a relevant store brand with, pardon the pun, plenty of shelf life. SuperValu continues to cater to the growing population of consumers who want organic and free-from products by increasing the number of products and categories in Wild Harvest, which is now SuperValu’s second-largest and fastest-growing private brand. Wild Harvest features more than 700 products across 80 categories. Nearly 70 percent of the products are Certified USDA Organic. Food and beverage products in Wild Harvest are free from more than 140 undesirable ingredients — and growing. “We continue to see year-over-year growth of Wild Harvest,” says Bekah Swan, SuperValu’s vice president of private brands, although she couldn’t reveal the own brand’s annual sales.

Wild Harvest isn’t the only store brand that SuperValu, which was recently acquired by United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) for $2.9 billion, has in the cupboard. Its largest private brand in SKUs and sales is Essential Everyday, a national brand equivalent line. SuperValu also offers Culinary Circle, a premium brand featuring products of differentiation in several categories; Arctic Shores, frozen seafood products; and Equaline, vitamins and supplements. Overall, SuperValu offers 11 private brand lines of consumer packaged goods and more than 5,000 store brand products. The company launches 300 to 350 new store brand products annually. Last year, in an effort to better define its fresh business as a private brand, SuperValu introduced Quick & Easy Meals, a line of meal solutions, at its retail banners and to its independent grocers. The line offers three levels of food preparation: fully prepared, ready-to-eat, grab-andgo items; completely assembled heat-and-eat meals; and fresh meal kits, including ingredients that have already been chopped, sliced and measured.

Wild Harvest features more than 700 products across 80 categories. It is SuperValu’s fastest-growing private brand. / September 2018 / Store Brands


Adam Sinley and Bekah Swan are two of the key individuals steering SuperValu’s private brands program.

Organic opportunity

Wild Harvest’s roots go back to 1996, when the Medford, Mass.-based supermarket chain Star Market opened a new store, Wild Harvest, to sell organic and natural foods at lower prices than other specialty stores. Star Market opened several Wild Harvest stores throughout New England. Through the years and several transactions, SuperValu ended up owning the rights to Wild Harvest, making it a private brand entirely. “The Wild Harvest brand is absolutely essential to a lot of our customers,” Stigers says. “They are embracing it.” A reason for that is because organic is now mainstream and private brand organic products cost less than branded organic products. In a recent report, market researcher Nielsen reported the average price for a basket of private brand organic goods was 18 percent less than a branded organic basket. What’s more, Nielsen reports that dollar sales of UPC-coded organic products grew 9.8 percent and unit volume increased 11.4 percent in the year ending Sept. 2, 2017. “Organic purchases are growing across all income levels,” Swan adds. Private brands represent 30 percent of all organic food and beverage sales. More grocers across the retail spectrum continue to increase the offerings in their organic store brand lines.


Store Brands / September 2018 /

OWN BRANDS AT A GLANCE SuperValu offers 11 lines of private brands, comprising more than 5,000 products. They include: Essential Everyday — National brand equivalent Wild Harvest — Organic and free-from Culinary Circle — Premium Arctic Shores — Frozen seafood Super Chill — Non-alcoholic beverages Stone Ridge Creamery — Ice cream, frozen yogurt, frozen novelties Stockman & Dakota — Angus beef Shoppers Value — Value line Springfield — National brand equivalent Baby Basics — Baby products Equaline — Health and beauty










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SuperValu’s Culinary Circle store brand focuses on premium products not often found in the typical food pantry. Wild Harvest products are in dairy and eggs, snacks and treats,,meat, frozen foods, beverages, pantry staples, soups and broths, cereal and oatmeal, canned goods, sauces and condiments, baking, cooking and spices, cleaning and paper products, candy and baby food. “We made a strategic decision a few years ago to move all of our baby product offerings under Wild Harvest and to offer all organic products,” Swan says. Wild Harvest is not only differentiating with products that are organic and free-from, it’s also differentiating with flavors and formulations. Consider its pink Himalayan sea salt Belgian dark chocolate, raspberry black tea, vanilla soymilk and frozen margherita pizza. In October, SuperValu will roll out a personal care line under Wild Harvest, featuring 40 products including bar soaps, body wash, bath salts, lotions, shampoo, conditioners, hand soap and other products. The food-grade formulations are free from more than 390 ingredients, including parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and colors. Recognizing it had a more diverse customer base, including an influx of millennials, SuperValu also implemented a new marketing campaign for Wild Harvest. The store brand’s new tagline is six words — “Full of good, free from bad” — a strong and persuasive play on words that targets millennials, the nation’s largest generation with spending power growing by the day. “The slogan tested well with consumers, especially millennials,” Swan says. SuperValu will introduce more than 80 new products under Wild Harvest in 2018, including grass-fed organic


Store Brands / September 2018 /

beef and all-natural beef, cauliflower crust gluten-free three-cheese pizza, ready-to-drink organic teas and juices, organic cheeses and organic applesauce in pouches. “We will continue to follow the consumer with this brand,” Swan says. “We want it to be represented across many categories.” Wild Harvest has undergone a few packaging renovations in the past 10 years, although its trendy, screaming-yellow logo, which has held up well over time, remains the same. Swan is also pleased that Wild Harvest’s distribution is growing. When SuperValu acquired Commerce, Calif.-based Unified Grocers Inc. (UGI) in 2017, it received distributor Market Centre in the deal. Market Centre helps its retail customers differentiate through customized selections of multicultural, natural/organic and specialty/gourmet products. Market Centre is procuring and merchandising Wild Harvest as part of its customized selections on the West Coast and in Florida, areas where the store brand previously didn’t have a presence. SuperValu research reveals that many consumers don’t regard Wild Harvest as a store brand; they view it as simply a brand. While Swan wants consumers to know Wild Harvest is a SuperValu store brand because it provides a point of difference, she realizes that consumers who view it as a brand is validation of how far some store brands have come from the bad ol’ days of private label black-and-white packaging. “Our customers think of Wild Harvest as a product they can trust and can find in a host of retail stores,” Swan says.

Essential Everyday is SuperValu’s largest store brand in SKUs and sales.

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Wild Harvest could also get a boost through UNFI’s lateJuly acquisition of SuperValu. Providence, R.I.-based UNFI, a long-tenured player in the natural and organic segment, has been the primary wholesale supplier to Whole Foods Market for nearly 20 years. The question begs to be asked: Could Wild Harvest end up being sold in Whole Foods stores and on after the deal is finalized?

The big picture

It remains to be seen what UNFI’s acquisition will have on SuperValu and its 11 private brand lines, especially considering that UNFI has its own private brands. But SuperValu CEO Mark Gross told the Minneapolis Star Tribune recently that “the combined UNFI-Supervalu private brand portfolio will be even stronger as we look to drive cost savings, expand variety and accelerate innovation.” There is talk that SuperValu will divest its remaining retail banners under UNFI. SuperValu has increased its wholesale business from 44 percent in 2016 to 80 percent in 2018, according to Stigers, who says SuperValu invested approximately $135 million in fiscal 2018 toward the purchase and improvement of distribution centers to support the growth of its wholesale business. “We are bringing SuperValu back to its grass roots, which is being the wholesaler of choice,” Stigers says. SuperValu’s independent grocers may operate one store, two to 10 stores or more than 10 stores. Some of the independent customers are privately held regional chains such as West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s Supermarkets, which operates about 120 locations in northern California and Nevada. “We provide the opportunity for those family businesses to be relevant and successful to the communities they serve,” Stigers says. SuperValu’s private brands play an important role in that relevancy. And, for now, SuperValu’s 35-person private brand team is forging ahead with its private brands plans, including sprucing up the packaging of Essential Everyday to make it more “modern and fun,” Swan says. “Our prior design was pretty flat and rigid from a packaging and architecture standpoint,” she adds. “We are really trying to play up packaging with a brighter feel.” With 2,500 SKUs in a line that covers about 250 categories, the rollout of the new packaging, which began in January, will take about 20 months. SuperValu also continues to add new products and categories to the line. “We continue to follow the national brand queues,” Swan says. “We need to make sure that Essential Everyday continues to deliver for SuperValu and its customers.” Culinary Circle, launched in 2008, is another promising line featuring 250 SKUs and growing, spurred by an increase of food adventurers seeking bold flavors, Swan says. It


Store Brands / September 2018 /

In October, SuperValu will roll out a personal care line under Wild Harvest, featuring 40 products free from more than 390 undesirable ingredients. features frozen food, beverages, deli items, meat and seafood, pasta sauces and other items. When Adam Sinley, SuperValu’s director of private brands product development and quality, talks about Culinary Circle, he waxes about “aggressive flavor profiles and unique artisan items that really push the boundaries of what is in the typical pantry.” “[Culinary Circle] is poised for that kind of innovation,” says Sinley, a classically trained chef and food scientist. In the fresh category, Quick & Easy will continue to be fine-tuned. When Dament began her role at SuperValu about two years ago, she noticed the company didn’t have one go-to-market strategy to provide its customers with meal solutions. All of the fresh departments, from meat to produce, worked in siloes, she says. “So we knocked down siloes with one go-to-market strategy,” Dament adds. “This is an exclusive SuperValu private brand, but we want to build it like a national brand.” According to a recent SuperValu consumer study, 59 percent of consumers purchase private brands. The top three reasons they do are budget (39 percent), quality (32 percent) and because they like natural/organic (26 percent). Eightyseven percent of the consumers SuperValu surveyed said they think the variety of private brands is “good” or “very good.” The success of SuperValu’s private brands is ingrained in innovation, Dament says. It’s vital to keep working with SuperValu’s more than 300 suppliers to take innovation to another level, even if some products fail along the way. “I would rather push the boundaries too far in innovation and have to pull back than not take a risk,” Dament says. SB Aylward, editor-in-chief of Store Brands, can be reached at


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And now, without further ado, it’s time to announce the top product segment in the 2018 Store Brands’ Growth 100 —deemed as the fastest-growing sector in private brands, according to market researcher IRI. A drum roll, please … (Sound of envelope being torn open.) And the No. 1 fastest-growing product segment in private brands is … multipurpose insect and rodent chemicals from the pest control category. Multipurpose insect and rodent chemicals? Really? Yup. Sales of private brand multipurpose insect and rodent chemicals are up a whopping 698 percent from July 15, 2017, through July 15, 2018, in the $5.2-million category. Take that, Ortho and Raid! OK, maybe you were expecting something different in this new world of private brands, which places a premium on premium products. That said, even though the segment might not be captivating, we’re talking about “all-purpose” control of insects and rodents, which insinuates premium. Give someone a store brand insect spray that controls ants, mosquitoes, flies and bees (but not honeybees!), and that person will be one happy pest assassin. Now, we know it’s a small product segment at just over $5 million, but a 698 percent growth rate is something to write home about. Unit sales are up more than 1 million, an increase of 942 percent from the previous period. The average price per unit is $4.90, down $1.49 from the previous year, which is a telltale


Store Brands /September 2018 /

TOP 10 FOOD CATEGORIES Categories where private brands had dollar/unit sales gains of 5 percent or more and accounted for $5 million or more in total sales (52 weeks ending July 15, 2018) 1] 2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8] 9] 10]

Edible cake decorations Refrigerated meat, cheese, crackers, desserts kits Pita bread Prepared pudding Shelf-stable microwaveable packaging dinner Refrigerated entrees Processed/Imitation cheese loaf Ice milk/Frozen dairy desserts Refrigerated uncooked meats (no poultry) Refrigerated appetizers/Snack rolls

sign of the category’s growth. And there’s still plenty of room for growth: private brands own only 3.2 percent of dollar share in the category. Incidentally, our Store Brands’ Growth 100 list features product segments and categories where private brands post dollar



Categories where private brands had dollar/unit sales gains of 5 percent or more and accounted for $5 million or more in total sales (52 weeks ending July 15, 2018). Includes supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries, and select club and dollar chains. n FOOD - YELLOW n NON-FOOD - GRAY n BEVERAGE - BLUE DOLLAR SALES (IN MILLIONS)









Multipurpose insect/rodent chemicals






Ready-to-drink coconut milk





Shampoo and conditioner combo pack






Bath/Body Scrubbers/Massagers






Edible cake decorations












Cat snacks






Outdoor insect/Rodent control chemistry






Baby play and discovery acccessories






Waxed paper






Meat, cheese, crackers, desserts kits






Refrigerated dips






Baking cups






Extract/Flavoring/Food coloring






Imported table and still wine






Testing accessories






Cappucino/Iced coffee












Pita bread






Nursing/Feeding Accessories






Baby care and safety accessories






Spice/Seasonings (no salt, pepper)






Prepared pudding






Refrigerated baked beans






Shelf-stable microwaveable packaged dinners






Shelf-stable bottle orange juice






Refrigerated entrees






Epsom salts






Processed/Imitation cheese loaf






Ice cream cones






Non-disposable gloves






Chips/Baking Chocolate/Cocoa






Ice milk/Frozen dairy dessert


Refrigerated uncooked meats (no poultry)


Refrigerated appetizers/Snack rolls






Frozen raw shrimp





$3.3 billion





Fresh eggs

$3.4 billion


1.6 billion







Pork rinds










Processed frozen refrigerated turkey










Shelf-stable Asian sauce/marinade





22 Bottles (reusable drink)






Coffee filters





23 Shelf-stable dip






Refrigerated non-sliced lunchmeat





24 Frozen breakfast food






Aseptic juices





25 Indoor insect/Rodent control chemicals






Laundry detergent (packets/bars)





26 Chocolate-covered salted snacks











27 Gelatin dessert mixes






Nail accessories/Implements





28 Facial moisturizers






Fruit-flavored syrup





29 Disposable gloves






Liquid vitamins/Minerals






Shelf-stable bottled cranberry juice/ Cranberry juice blend






Cooking/Baking nuts












Wet broth/Stock










Breakfast cereal/Snack bars





33 Diarrhea medicine (liquid and powder)






Refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee





34 Dried meat snacks






Dog and cat needs





35 Deodorants






Brownie mixes





36 Frozen fish/Seafood











37 Women's gift packs






Breading/Batter/Coating Mixes





38 Humidifiers/Vaporizers






Snack/Granola bars





39 Frozen and dry ice






Frosting/Frosting mixes





40 Multiservice frozen entrees






Refrigerated grated cheese





Specialty nut butter






Nasal spray/Drops/Inhaler





42 Cigarettes (single pack)






Cleaning tools/Mops/Brooms





20 Perfumes and colognes/Body powder 21

Hand sanitizers

32 Domestic table and still wine


43 Single-serve frozen entrees






Dry dip mixes

44 Refrigerated fruit drinks






Frozen cooked shrimp

45 Baby soothing accessories






Eyelash curler

46 Specialty nut coconut candy






47 Cake, cupcake and pie mixes





48 Salad toppings





49 Cigarettes (multipack/carton)




50 Ready-to-drink almond milk
















Refrigerated breakfast sausage, ham






Non-dog, non-cat pet food













Refrigerated almond milk







Urine test kits




20% /September 2018 / Store Brands


STORE BRANDS' GROWTH 100 TOP 10 BEVERAGE CATEGORIES Categories where private brands had dollar/unit sales gains of 5 percent or more, and accounted for $5 million or more in total sales (52 weeks ending July 15, 2018)

1] 2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8] 9] 10]

Imported table and still wine Cappuccino/Iced coffee Shelf-stable bottled cranberry juice/ Cranberry juice blend Domestic table/still wine Refrigerated fruit drink Ready-to-drink almond milk Ready-to-drink coconut milk Shelf-stable bottled orange juice Aseptic juices Refrigerated ready-to-drink coffee

THE GOOD NEWS FOR STORE BRAND WINE IS ITS REPUTATION IS IMPROVING WHILE ITS PRICE IS GOING DOWN. CONSUMERS CLEARLY SEE ITS VALUE. TOP 10 NON-FOOD CATEGORIES Categories where private brands had dollar/unit sales gains of 5 percent or more and accounted for $5 million or more in total sales (52 weeks ending July 15, 2018)

1] 2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8] 9] 10] 26

Multipurpose insect rodent chemicals Shampoo and conditioner combo pack Cat snacks Baby play and discovery accessories Baking cups (paper) Baby care and safety accessories Non-disposable gloves Perfumes and colognes/Body powder Hand sanitizers Bottles (reusable drink)

Store Brands /September 2018 /

sales and unit sales gains of 5 percent or more, and account for $5 million or more in total sales in the last year, in data taken by IRI from supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries,and select club and dollar retail chains. The list draws from food, beverage and non-food categories. Second on the 2018 Store Brands’ Growth 100 list is another small but burgeoning non-food segment: shampoo and conditioner combo packs, with sales of $5.8 million, a growth of 237 percent from the July to July time frame. Unit sales increased 256 percent and the average price per unit is $5.48, down 32 cents from the previous year. While the smaller categories matter, especially the ones with significant growth, retailers are no doubt more interested in the larger dollar categories that also experienced substantial growth. Volume rules. Consider refrigerated uncooked meats (not including poultry), the largest category in the top 100, which ranks ninth in the food category and 18th overall. The category soared nearly 52 percent in sales in the time period, with sales reaching $3.3 billion. Dollar share for private brands in the category increased to a meaty 66 percent, a 19 percent improvement from the previous year. Unit sales are up nearly 42 percent. Interestingly, the average price per unit increased 43 cents to $6.60. Clearly, the statistic speaks largely to the emphasis more retailers are putting on private brand refrigerated, uncooked meats in the fresh section — and their promotional and merchandising tactics are working. Also, Americans still love red meat, despite an increased interest in plant-based “meat” products. Americans ate an average 55.6 pounds of beef in 2016, up from 54 pounds in 2015, according to the Department of Agriculture. Another store brand fresh food category that experienced solid growth is eggs, with sales of $3.4 billion in the period, an increase of more than 25 percent. Unit sales increased 5.6 percent. Store brand fresh eggs now own 60 percent of market share in the category, an increase of nearly 4 percent. The average price per unit of eggs is up 34 cents to $2.17, another indication of the category recovering from deflation. Refrigerated uncooked meats (not including poultry) and fresh eggs are the only billion-dollar private brand categories, with a 5 percent increase in unit sales. At $886.3 million, the frozen fish/seafood segment is also thriving for private brands. Sales increased more than $38 percent and private brands now own about 40 percent of the market share in the category, an increase of more than 10 percent. Unit sales increased 34 percent. The thinking here is that more single millennials are purchasing more store brand frozen fish/seafood because: one, they want healthier products; and, two, they want portion control. Retailers such as Aldi and Costco Wholesale are catering to that crowd with an array of frozen fish/seafood offerings. Aldi offers products under its Sea Queen private brand and Costco under its Kirkland Signature own brand.

STORE BRANDS' GROWTH 100 The top-growing category in food, with sales of $53.6 million — an increase of 218 percent — is edible cake decorations from the baking needs category. Unit sales are up 217 percent. There probably isn’t a person in private brands who could have predicted this. But why not edible cake decorations? It totally makes sense and private brands are capitalizing. In beverage, the private brand wine category is gaining in recognition and growing in sales. That’s not surprising, considering the many retailers that have introduced their own wine labels in the past year. In addition, retailers like Costco, Trader Joe’s, The Kroger Co., Aldi and Lidl are setting a high standard by offering award-winning quality wines at reasonable prices. The No. 1 growth item in private brand beverages was imported table/still wine, with $8.9 million in sales, an increase of 91 percent. Unit sales increased about 100 percent. The average price per unit is $8.28, down 43 cents from the previous year. The No. 4 growth item in private brand beverage is domestic table/still wine, with sales of $5.2 million, a 44 percent increase. The average price per unit is $7.62, down 34 cents from the previous year. The good news for store brand wine is its reputation is improving while its price is going down. Consumers clearly see the value — quality and price


Store Brands /September 2018 /

— in store brand wine. And because the segment owns low single-digit market share in the imported and domestic wine categories, it has plenty of room to grow. And it will. In the how-things-change department, only one product category in the top 10 this year appeared in the top 10 last year — private brand baby care and safety accessories — which continues to soar. Sales rose to $33.8 million, an increase of 73 percent. Unit sales are about 3.9 million, an increase of 51 percent. In last year’s report, sales of baby care and safety accessories were $16.8 million, an increase of 62 percent, for the 52 weeks from July 9, 2016, through July 9, 2017. It’s one hot category for private brands, but can it sustain that growth for a third year? We shall see. For next year, we believe some of the trends we see now in food will continue, especially in the fresh department, where retailers are aiming to increase their private brand presence. In beverage, we believe private brand wines will continue to attract more consumers’ attention. In non-food, we expect anything to do with pets, especially cats and dogs, to gain more ground in store brands. SB Aylward, editor-in-chief of Store Brands, can be reached at



FRESH TAKES ON MATURE PRODUC TS How retailers and manufacturers of eggs, coffee and paper towels can inject own brand categories with new life

Private brand products are evolving in positive ways. Two-thirds of consumers recently surveyed by market researcher IRI said they plan to purchase private brands more frequently in the near future. ”The market is quickly transforming, as assortments evolve and become more targeted,” states Mark McKeown, principal of retailer gateways-client insights for IRI.

Retailers are also expanding their overall private brand labels. IRI tracks store shelf space in terms of overall product assortments and found there are increases in private brands across categories, ranging from 2 to 19 percent, McKeown says. “This is likely due to retailers using private brands to drive loyalty to their banners, which can increase shopping trips, basket size and same-store sales,” he adds. Yet, retailers can often fall in a trap, not paying adequate attention to mature categories of private brands. Even if a product has not fundamentally changed much, there are opportunities to refresh its packaging, product information, serving size and promotions, says Jim Wisner, president of Wisner

Marketing Group, a Libertyville, Ill.-based consulting firm specializing in private brands. “[Products] can be made better-for-you or have clean labels,” he adds. Store brand product development is growing at a greater rate than current market shares would suggest, Wisner adds. “Mature categories can certainly be made more exciting, particularly because consumers have an extremely high regard for the quality of certain private brand categories,” he says. There are many ways to differentiate what historically were thought of as commodity items. Shelf optimization is invaluable, notes Stephen Goldsmith, managing director of Hanover Research in Arlington, /September 2018 / Store Brands


TRENDING Va. “It allows store brands to draw attention away from name brands or to specific store areas,” he says. “Dynamic technology, such as cart or basket trackers or GPS locators, allows brands to understand how a customer interacts with the product, aisle or entire store, and leads customers to store brands.”


Eggs, which are praised for their high protein content, vitamins and nutrients, comprise one of the oldest grocery product categories and are becoming trendier in diets in part because of their recent blessing by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines as being healthier. An egg’s cholesterol content (187 milligrams per single large egg) used to be deemed high, the main reason consumers avoided them. But the updated guidelines removed the daily limit on cholesterol intake, which has egg producers and protein-loving consumers cheering.

Market research firm Packaged Facts says eggs align well with today’s dietary protein needs (an egg contains 6 grams). The new nutritional consensus may be helping fresh grocery eggs hold a steady 93 to 94 percent usage rate in U.S. households, the firm says, noting that usage of organic eggs surged to 26 percent in 2017. “Private label fresh eggs are seeing higher dollar sales (31.1 percent for the last 52 weeks ending July 31 versus a year ago),” McKeown adds. “This may be due to organic eggs, where dollar sales, unit sales and velocity are up.”


Store Brands /September 2018 /

Attributes such as cage-free, antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed and omega-3-fortified can allow retailers to participate in the premium and higher margin segment of the category, says Randy Burt, a partner at A.T. Kearney, a Chicago-based management consultant firm. “The first step is to use in-store marketing and promotions for these products, as well as digital and conventional shopper communications to drive trial and repeat,” he says. Sampling and store demonstrations can also be effective at driving trial, Burt adds. Consumers will pay a premium for quality, so retailers should focus on private brand growth and market expansion, Goldsmith adds. “Store brands can use this to reinvigorate mature categories with cage-free organic eggs, environmental and ethical messaging and artisan-style packaging,” he notes. Specialty eggs, such as organic versions, draw a substantial share of health-conscious food shoppers. But store brand eggs haven’t been touting their health benefits, notes David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts’ research director. “Non-store brand eggs appeal disproportionately to health-conscious shoppers because they are disproportionately likely to have better-for-you positioning, such as organic,” he says. “I don’t think store brand organic eggs would be less appealing to the healthconscious shopper than non-store brand eggs — in fact, I’d suspect the opposite, giving the price advantage,” Sprinkle says. “The point is the premium characteristics of the eggs themselves, not the labeling.” One revamped store brand of eggs is at Gelson’s Markets in Encino, Calif., where the independent grocer recently converted to 100 percent cage-free, private brand eggs and expects to be 100 percent cage-free on all of its available eggs by 2020. Local California farms supply the cage-free eggs, which Gelson’s promotes via newsletter ads, social media posts and store signage. “It is important whenever it makes sense to our customers,” says Rich Gillmore, Gelson’s director of center store category management. “We are dedicated to providing what customers want, and current trends are pushing us in that direction. Customers have been trending to cage-free eggs for some time. It is all about education and communication. We have received a positive response [to the conversion].”


Even though the coffee category has been around for decades, coffee is thriving. Market researcher Statista says coffee sales are perking at nearly $13 billion and will continue to do so. Coffee is also evolving with new roasts and flavors in microbrews, cold brews, nitro brews and fair trade versions as well as iced, spiced, pods (capsules), cascara and others. As consumers continue to search for higher quality and more coffee choices, private brands are stepping up to meet their needs. Walker, Mich.-based Meijer, for example, offers several distinct flavors in its Meijer Gold line of ground and whole bean coffees that the company says are the equal to those in gourmet groceries. Flavors include Michigan Cherry and Mackinac Island Fudge, which pay homage to the company’s Michigan roots. “Some private brands have created a loyal shopper base in certain flavors and roasts,” McKeown adds. One of the hottest trends in the coffee space is cold-brew coffee, which has been launched by numerous national and private brands. Sales of coldbrew coffee rose 370 percent in two years, according to reports. Linked with sugar reduction, cold brews offer an energizing but lower-calorie alternative to sweet ice tea. Cold brews can also be consumed throughout the day, not just at breakfast. TreeHouse Foods in Oak Brook, Ill., offers a six-flavor line called Steep 18, sourced from quality Arabica beans and steeped for 18 hours to ensure potency and taste, the company says. Steep 18’s aseptically packaged carton helps keeps it fresh for up to a year with no preservatives. In June, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven introduced its own version of cold-brewed coffee. The convenience retailer says the new beverage is not just for the morning, but for later in the day and on weekends. Arlington, Va.-based Lidl offers cold-brew coffee concentrate in original, roasted coconut and French vanilla flavors while Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. offers Kroger iced coffees in half-gallon easypour cartons. Flavors include vanilla, caramel and mocha Light. With their fast-paced lifestyles, millennials want private coffee brands that pass muster on taste and budget. Thus, retailers are testing different ways for their own brands to stay relevant with millennials and stand out from the crowd. “Flavors can be developed by better understanding what customer needs are not being met, and fan favorites require a significant understanding of the customer base and brand expectations,” Goldsmith says. “To ensure success, brand owners should conduct extensive sensory tests on new flavors and niche products.”


Private brand paper towels hold the top spot of market share at 30 percent in the overall $5.1-billion paper towel category, according to IRI’s latest data for the 52-week period ending May 20. Sales of private brands climbed 3 percent, IRI adds. One private brand that impressed Consumer Reports in its latest review of the best paper towels is Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart’s Great Value Strong & Absorbent brand. “When it comes to slurping up spills, some paper towels really deliver, some don’t,” Consumer Reports notes. “Some store brands offered impressive absorbency, scrubbing and strength at a good price.” First Quality Enterprises, a Great Neck, N.Y.-based manufacturer of private brand paper products, says it is critical to use high-quality raw materials from sustainable resources in the production of store brand paper towels. “Sustainability and environmental packaging claims attract customers,” Burt agrees. GreenWise two-ply paper towels from Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets are made using “100 percent-recycled fiber with 50 percent post-consumer fiber (may contain less than 0.5 percent incidental, nonrecycled fiber), according to the company’s website. The packaging features understated but attractive multicolor label graphics. Graphics can set a brand apart, as does variety, choose-a-size control, quality, strengths (number of plies) and performance criteria such as “scrubbing ability,” Burt says. “Paper towel innovation also centers on package size, particularly with home delivery, and click-and-collect shoppers who tend to over index on bulk items,” he explains.


Sprinkle advises marketing mature products as attractively as possible. Mature categories are also looking for more authenticity and premium qualities. “Authenticity is particularly important to millennial shoppers, and adds an experiential component that enhances value,” Wisner adds. Sources agree that digital communication/ordering and advertising are vital to attracting shoppers to both mature product categories and private brands. Successful store leaders have curated their own products and need to tell how they did it and why the products have great value, McKeown points out. The bottom line is to stay relevant and keep pace with changing consumer needs in mature categories, the sources say. SB Hartman, managing editor of Store Brands, can be reached at /September 2018 / Store Brands



CAPTIVATE AT THE PERIMETER Get creative to differentiate your fresh sections and lock down shoppers’ loyalty B Y D AN A C VETAN

Get shoppers in the door. Let them take in the dazzling hues of the produce section and the fabulous aromas of the bakery. Direct their attention toward the people skillfully making delicious food just for them. Show off all of those good-looking cuts of meat and gorgeous fresh fish. In the face of all this, they will fall fast and hard. Simple, right? Of course not. But it can be done. Oh, and it can be done very well. The offerings of a retailer’s fresh sections are the great differentiators. They don’t all look exactly alike. They don’t stack neatly on shelves. Each item is on display in all of its singular glory. It’s a canvas for creativity. Research suggests that the best way to differentiate and win over shoppers is with a store’s fresh sections, says Rick Stein, vice president of fresh foods for or the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in Arlington,Va. Consumers are buying more fresh foods, according to FMI research. “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2018,” based on 2017 data, found 18 percent of consumers said they purchased more fresh perishable items than a year ago, and 5 percent reported buying more fresh prepared foods than in the previous year. FMI research also found that 72 percent of retailers say they are emphasizing private brand products as a competitive strategy. Further, food executives surveyed said they foresee aggressively expanding private brands in fresh. Forty-one percent targeted fresh prepared offerings, 25 percent meat, 23 percent produce and 22 percent bakery. The most important attribute consumers consider when choosing their primary grocery store is the quality of its fruits and vegetables (80 percent), followed by the quality of its meats (77 percent), FMI found. Whether conveyed with in-store signage or knowledge32

Store Brands / September 2018 /

able employees, communicating the benefits of what is in fresh departments is crucial to success, Stein emphasizes. “Hire knowledgeable associates who can interact with the consumers. Consumers are dying for information,” Stein says. “Shoppers like to get the full experience of the grocery store — that’s why they like brick-and-mortar shopping.” CHECK OUT THE GRAPES One of the top reasons a consumer shops at a brick-andmortar grocery store is for its produce, Stein points out. A winning produce section has more than a few components, Stein says. “High-quality standards, local produce, identifying where the produce comes from, a compelling story and most importantly merchandising, which can make a huge difference in sales if done appropriately.” Consumers will purchase on impulse if the produce looks fabulous, Stein asserts. For instance, say a shopper heads for a particular store because the grapes are on sale. “If that bag of grapes is gorgeous and looks mouth-watering, the shopper is liable to eye the rest of the produce department and pick up other good looking fruits and vegetables,” Stein explains. Color breaks help sell produce. “Really good color breaks are eye-popping,” and give a store a great, fresh look, Stein adds. The ability to provide local produce also fosters shopper loyalty, not just that consumers assume it is fresher and of better quality, but because the retailer is seen as supportive of the local economy, which impresses shoppers, Stein says. Cleveland-based grocery chain Heinen’s Fine Foods features multiple artful displays of locally grown produce with signage explaining where each colorful stack of

FOCUS ON FRESH stack of bounty was grown along with stories of the farmers who grew it. WHAT’S COOKING? Consumers are buying food prepared away from home more than they are preparing it at home, says Stein, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics. Given this reality, it behooves retailers to become a destination for foodservice, whether that means carrying out a rotisserie chicken, buying a freshly baked pizza or dining in a “grocerant.” Retailers are responding by “opening kitchens, hiring master chefs and creating dishes unique to their banner,” Stein reports. Retailers can use their foodservice departments to turn hungry, time-pressed consumers into their loyal, regular grocery shoppers by designing them to solve problems, says Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, an independent consultancy focused on food trends and behavior analysis. Webster believes grocery foodservice areas are widely under-leveraged for this purpose. “There are great opportunities to increase awareness, educate consumers and create a more impactful experience that deepens the connection between the retailer and its shoppers,” she says. Create a foodservice area that offers the options shoppers are most likely to require at the various dayparts, Webster advises. Morning dayparts, particularly during the week, are about convenience, speed and portability. Lunch options can be broader, but variety from healthy to healthy indulgence with packaging that facilitates carrying food back to offices and homes is key, Webster says. For evening, shoppers are looking for solutions to make dinner well and quickly without sacrificing quality. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, an Eastern U.S. grocery store chain, offers restaurantquality entrees, soups, appetizers, gourmet sandwiches and side dishes at its Market Café for take-out or in-store dining with seating for 100 to 300, according to the company. Wegmans also offers sushi made fresh daily, an old-fashioned sub shop, organic salad bar, veggie bar, Asian bar, pizza shop and the Buzz Coffee Shop with specialty coffee, tea and breakfast sandwiches. Foodservice and other departments could also work together to increase sales across the entire store, Webster suggests. For example, if the foodservice area offers a currybased dish, it should have information on curry-based products available in the other areas (shelf-stable, refrigerator, freezer) to entice trial and additional purchases. “For education, provide background on curry … its origins, the different types and applications that can also tie that information to other products available throughout the store,” Webster advises.

MEAT AND SEAFOOD Full service meat and seafood cases sell the store to shoppers, Stein says. “If you look at the sales generated from seafood, it’s small (shoppers may only purchase fresh seafood once or twice a month), but it’s a huge differentiator when it comes to loyalty,” he adds. The appearance of fresh seafood conveys a sense of quality that shoppers connect to the store as a whole, Stein explains. Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets touts its sustainably sourced seafood and meat raised without antibiotics or added hormones and sausage made fresh in the store. Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. emphasizes its commitment to responsible procurement practices for its animal proteins. Kroger’s Animal Welfare Policy requires its suppliers to adopt industry-accepted animal welfare standards, and Kroger says it monitors its suppliers for compliance. As one of the world’s largest seafood purchasers, it partners with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to guide its sustainable seafood initiative, particularly for wild-caught seafood, according to the company’s website. WHAT’S BAKING? At long last, says Stein, fresh bakeries are making a “huge comeback” and are creating a lot of differentiation. In-store bakeries suffered under the “curse of carbohydrates” for the last couple decades, but consumers are returning with a desire to reward themselves a bit with what Stein terms a “guiltless indulgence.” “Retailers are doing a phenomenal job hiring in-store bakers and decorators, [and creating] bakery cases with showcase items and artisan-type products” that consumers find irresistible, Stein says. Shoppers “see the oven, they smell the bread. They see the bakers decorating the cakes, putting the icing on. If they can’t smell it, if they can’t see it being baked,” then the store won’t get credit for the wonders coming out of the ovens, Stein points out. Hot hearth oven breads featuring grains hit on health and wellness trends consumers care about, Stein adds. Wegmans, which turns out European breads and rolls, water-boiled bagels, muffins, pies, cakes and pastries, says its wares come out of the oven several times a day. When all is said and done, remember that legitimacy and trust are vital, Stein concludes. “Consumers want you to be legitimate, especially millennials,” Stein says. “Do not try to pull the hood over their eyes — you’ll lose them forever. They know they are a targeted demographic. “It boils down to trust. In every strategy, the one that is paramount is consumer trust. We would not sacrifice that for anything.” SB / September 2018 / Store Brands



WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT Largest U.S. generation loves to play with its food, presenting opportunities for private brand product developers BY LAWRENCE AYLWARD

Here’s a shocker: Millennials like to take photographs of their food before they eat it and post them on social media. So what did you expect from the generation that grew up clutching iPhones, not stuffed animals? Jean Shieh, marketing manager for Turlock, Calif.-based Sensient Natural Ingredients (SNI), sees a connection between millennials’ penchant for social media and what they eat. Millennials are all about experimenting with new ingredients and flavors and then letting their social media followers know what they are trying. And then their followers try what they tried, and the cycle continues. It’s a big reason why millennials have gained a reputation for trying ingredients and flavors that previous generations might not have touched with a 10-foot fork. “This is a generation that is not afraid of trying anything,” says Shieh, whose company produces natural ingredients to bring flavor, texture, color and nutrition to clean-label food products. “Millennials are all about having choices.” According to market research company Mintel, millennials are now aged 24 to 41, meaning the youngest millennials are now entering the work force and the generation’s overall spending power is increasing. Millennials are also the largest generation, and their impact on product development is growing. 34

Store Brands / September 2018 /

INSPIRED BY FLAVOR Millennials want ingredients and flavors that will take food and beverage products to another level — a premium product level in many cases. If you give a millennial a lemon, that millennial will make raspberry peach lemonade out of it. “Millennials are more exposed to the global cultures and are interested in exploring different cultures through food,” says Kristie Hung, an SNI marketing specialist. “Millennials look for flavor inspiration from authentic traditional cuisines — Mexican, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Indian, etc. [They prefer] complex combinations that offer multiple layers of flavors beyond two-dimensional flavors.” But millennials are not seeking completely new flavors, Shieh says. Often, it’s about adding a new twist to a familiar flavor. Take caramel, for instance. “Caramel is a sweet flavor that most people like,” Shieh says. “What we can do is add some heat to the sweet with something like habanero.” The key is adding a hot flavor, whether from a chili pepper or a ghost pepper to a common flavor which could be sweet, bitter or sour, in small doses, so a product can be consumed multiple times and at a larger volume, Shieh says. Mexican chocolate is another example of a product that fits well with millennials and could present an opportu-

FLAVORS & INGREDIENTS nity for private brands. It’s chocolate with a dose of zing — in this case chili pepper. “It’s a familiar chocolate flavor but with a new twist,” Shieh says. “So it’s not completely out there.” Hung adds that millennials prefer flavorful ingredients that also bring bright bold colors to products such as activated charcoal ice cream, purple corn chips, beetroot chips, green Hatch chile ice cream and spirulina beverages. THEY STUDY LABELS According to market researcher Nielsen, millennials are more likely to buy natural and organic products and products free from certain ingredients deemed as not healthy. Rebecca Albini, an SNI innovation scientist, says millennials have a list of non-desirable ingredients, including extra sugar, GMOs and food additives that they don’t want to consume. “Millennials are really taking a look at what exactly is going into their bodies,” she adds. “They want to see labels that are understandable with the least amount of ingredients as possible.” Millennials simply want more information on the ingredients they’re consuming and where they come from, adds Paul Laudiero, director of marketing for Manassas, Va.-based GHIGI Food Industries, which manufactures authentic pasta, sauce, olive oil and balsamic vinegar for private brands. “There’s an increase in buying knowledge with consumers, especially millennials,” Laudiero says. In its marketing, GHIGI makes clear its identity to appease millennials and their buying knowledge. GHIGI says it’s a “farmer-owned company” with products “all sourced directly from our fields.” It markets its products as made with “100 percent Italian ingredients, 100 percent GMO-free, with certified organic capabilities, and 100 percent traceable from our own fields.” Laudiero also notes the importance of educating retailers about its products to pass onto to millennials and other discerning consumers. “We make sure [retailers] are aware of all of GHIGI’s capabilities, such as our full organic and whole wheat offerings, and the fact that we only use 100 percent Italian non-GMO durum wheat,” he says. “We are one of only a handful of factories that is owned by an agricultural consortium and only uses 100 percent Italian wheat. These qualities help retailers fully develop pasta lines as well as add the proper call-outs on packaging.” Such call-outs are part of the story that a product can tell about its history, the origin of its ingredients and other factors. Millennials want to learn these stories through packaging and

Millennials want differentiation, but often on their terms.

Green Hatch chile aioli is the type of product featuring ingredients and flavors that many millennials savor.

merchandising, Shieh notes. “The company that can tell a good story behind a product’s sustainability, traceability and social responsibility will capture millennials’ attention,” she adds. But the “story” has to be legitimate, Shieh notes, which is why millennials prefer certifications on products such as “USDA Certified Organic” to trust they are consuming foods that are “real” to them. OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND Albini says that millennials are stimulated by new products and that retailers and food and beverage manufacturers of private brands should explore more divergent offerings. She says categories that private brands can capitalize on with millennials include plant-based protein bars, beverages and vegetarian products; dairy products such as yogurts, ice cream and creamy dips; snacks such as popcorn, chickpeas and legume extrusions; salad dressings; baked goods; and other protein-fortified products. Many millennials favor flexitarian diets or semi-vegetarian diets, Shieh says. While those eating a flexitarian diet also eat meat, they want something with a “savory meaty flavor” to eat when they don’t eat meat. Millennials want differentiation, but often on their terms. For companies like SNI, it’s an exciting and opportunistic time to be in product development for private brands. . SB Aylward, editor-on-chief of Store Brands, can be reached at laylward@ / September 2018 / Store Brands




DO mix flavors and highlight product quality, freshness, healthfulness and adaptability.

A sluggish condiments sector is ripe for a flavor infusion. With the mayonnaise and mustard segments registering steep activity declines, merchandisers that provide newer and bolder options are in a position to boost activity, analysts note. Condiment sales were flat over the last two years, with 2017 revenues totaling $7.1 billion, while dressings sector sales reached $2.7 billion, down 1 percent from a year earlier, states market researcher Mintel in its December 2017 “Condiments US” report. Contributing to the decline were falling sales of shelf-stable items, which account for 83 percent of dressing activity. Refrigerated dressing revenues, however, grew 2

DON’T forget to add seasonal items that keep shoppers returning for more. Barbecue Sauce


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Store Brands /September 2018 /

percent because of greater consumer interest in foods that they perceive as fresher and healthier, Mintel notes. Mintel forecasts annual condiment revenues to reach $7.5 billion in 2022, with dressing sales remaining flat over the next five years. Because such traditional condiments as ketchup, mayonnaise, yellow mustard and dressings have nearly universal appeal, it is difficult for merchandisers to expand the buyer base, Mintel states. Instead, sellers can potentially enhance sales by enticing the same group of shoppers to also purchase new and unique assortments, Mintel notes. OUT WITH THE OLD In a 2017 Mintel online consumer survey, 40 percent of respondents stated they would like to see more sweet and spicy flavors; 38 percent indicated interest in additional creamy and spicy flavors; 33 percent sought smokier flavors; and 31 percent wanted extra sweet and sour flavors. The 1,919 adult survey respondents had bought condiments or dressings in the previous six months. While many consumers are habitual in nature and stick to the same brands and more traditional types of condiments, according to Mintel, an interest in international, foodservice-inspired and premium offerings may suggest an opportunity for flavored condiments.” Indeed, Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters, an Arlington, Vt.-based food industry consulting firm, says many newer flavors result from world cuisine trends and include more complex heat profiles, such as gochujang, piri piri, harissa and sambal as well as hot pepper options, such as ghost. Also on the rise are herb-based or flavored selections; iterations of pesto, gremolata and pistou; and yogurt or thick dairy-based condiments including raita and tzatziki, she states. “All the flavors from abroad and home are impacting popular and ubiquitous condiments, such as ketchup and mustard,” Webster says, adding that newer versions of common condiments also are becoming prevalent as merchandisers work to keep the category fresh and relevant “and prevent it from going stagnant in the face of innovation.” Such novel options include Sriracha ketchup and aioli with Sriracha, says Charles Winship, senior research analyst as Technomic Inc., a food industry

research and consulting firm. “Brands are trying to keep the interest of younger consumers,” he states, noting that Technomic research found that shoppers age 35 and older typically prefer traditional mayonnaise for their burgers, while more persons between 18 and 34 favor flavored mayonnaise. Webster says younger shoppers are fueling the launch of newer flavors as the individuals “are far more familiar with a wide range of world cuisines and less common flavors than older consumers. Their comfort is significantly broader, and they tend to gravitate toward a lot of the hot flavor profiles.” Yet, some flavors that seem new and trendy to younger consumers also are traditional and familiar to older shoppers, which can create a broad base of acceptance for classic condiments that may be brought back and re-invented, such as hollandaise or béchamel sauces, Webster notes. The optimal selections of condiments in each retail outlet, meanwhile, will likely vary by market and consumer demographics, she says. “Urban retailers in high-end and high-income areas are likely going to stock a completely different set of condiments than a retailer in a suburban or rural area,” Webster states. “Each retailer needs a good understanding of the makeup of their current and potential consumer base as well as the competitive set to understand where the white space is and how they can best leverage those opportunities.” GREATER WEALTH THROUGH HEALTH Among the product arrays increasing in prominence are higher quality condiments with more natural ingredients, Winship states, noting that suppliers are responding to the greater shopper interest in the selections with new alternatives. “The availability of natural and organic ingredients has become much more prevalent, allowing for manufacturers to meet the demand of such items with more competitive prices,” adds Renee Hicks, director of private brands for The Fremont Co., a Fremont, Ohio-based condiments supplier. She says, however, that many health-conscious millennials still are willing to pay more for organic selections, and that retailers can strengthen the competitiveness of store brands by offering and spotlighting unique selections, such as natural products. “Retailers should embrace the change or introduction of new, innovative products even if the items are not national brand equivalents,” Hicks states. “The developing store brand culture should

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Source: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Total U.S. supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains for the 52 weeks ending June 17.

resonate quality.” In addition, retailers can further enhance their private brand portfolio by offering seasonally unique items that “bring shoppers back looking for more options,” she notes. Merchandisers, meanwhile, also can help generate greater interest in specific brands by highlighting product adaptability, quality and healthfulness, Mintel states. “Premium condiments and dressings may offer greater value to consumers as many are willing to pay more for these options that are seemingly fresher,” Mintel notes, adding that condiments that contain a mix of flavor combinations can further bolster shoppers’ interest in the sector. “While consumers are heavily engaged with condiments and dressings, habitual behavior keeps the categories in a holding pattern struggling to grow sales,” Mintel notes. “The key strengths: versatility, affordability and excitement, are a strong foundation to upgrade users of all types through enhanced usability, flavor exploration or shifts to premium offerings.” SB Mitchell is a freelance writer from Wilmette, Ill..

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Store Brands /September 2018 /


BRINGING CARBS BACK Carbs have been the enemy for years. Whether you were on a diet or just interested in being more health-conscious, you avoided pasta and rice. But cutting out a food group that is so versatile and mainstream wasn’t easy; consumers wanted their pasta and rice back. Manufacturers have stepped up to the plate with healthier alternatives like glutenfree pasta, organic rice and pasta, as well as new flavor profiles. According to an April 2018 report from market researcher Mintel on grains and rice, the oncestagnant rice category will bounce back a bit. But private brand rice sales will outpace that of the big brands. The biggest opportunities for the category will be among those rice or rice/grain blend products that boast protein and added nutrients like vitamins, antioxidants or fiber. But the onus is on the store brand retailer to make sure these benefits are clearly highlighted. ORGANIC AND HEALTHY Healthier pasta has been a significant trend of late, and shows no sign of slowing down. “The organic trend has been gaining momentum in the last couple of years,” says Felipe Mesa, business development director of Pastaio USA in Atlanta, “and we have observed that the big retailers are capitalizing on this trend with their own store labels.” Mid to premium pasta and organic pasta have been a major focus of retailers, agrees Pasquale Laudiero, president of GHIGI Food Industries in Manassas, Va. “While the first-label (entry-level) products are where the majority of the volume has been and will continue to be, the premium and organic segments are where retailers are seeing the most growth,” he says. These segments offer retailers the opportunity for higher margins, Laudiero explains, but the real value is how the category helps retailers better connect with and retain customers. “What we’ve seen is that customers who purchase pasta in these segments and are happy with the product tend to come back into stores searching for the specific product,” he adds. But just sticking the word organic on a pasta package is not enough to draw the shopper. Retailers could consider product traceability and integrity as well. “Consumers are becoming a lot more aware of the ingredient label on pasta and want to understand

where their pasta/food products are being sourced and produced,” Laudiero says. “We also believe that being more transparent with consumers can lead to better retention and build private brand equity, which could flow over to other items under the private brand.” Among the different demographics, millennials, in particular, are the least loyal to brands and most likely to want to understand where their pasta/food products are being sourced and produced, he adds. PACKAGING/PRICING PUNCH It’s important to price store brand pasta and rice products appropriately so that the price reflects the products’ value and role within the overall store brand program. According to Laudiero, pricing continues to be more and more important with the likes of low-cost retailers such as Aldi, Lidl and now “We’re seeing more and more retailers focus on sourcing product as efficiently as possible,” he says. “Retailers need to spend time understanding costs

DO offer organic pasta as a store brand to take advantage of the organic movement and to diversify your offerings.

DON’T forget to set your product apart through premium measures, not just through pricing. /September 2018 / Store Brands


CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE PASTA AND RICE throughout the supply chain process so they can effectively source product, but also keep suppliers ‘honest’ and viable at the same time.” But pricing is not enough to set a product apart. With premium pasta comes a need for a premium look and feel; an investment to be sure, but worth considering.

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Source: Infoscan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Total U.S. supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains for the 52 weeks ending June 17.


Store Brands /September 2018 /

“The best store brand opportunities in the pasta segment lie on the notion that store brands need to stop being boring,” Mesa says. “[Instead, there is] the need to behave more like a branded product; that is, by looking, feeling as their competitive branded products.” In other words, investing the time and resource on the packaging and design is imperative. Store brands need to have more depth to create the added value the customer is looking for, Mesa explains. Retailers are spending more time and money on brand and packaging design, Laudiero states, especially over the course of the past five years. “Retailers are spending more time developing the design, story and vision of their private brands to attract and retain customers,” he explains. “Kroger’s Private Selection brand is a great example of this trend and the success retailers can have when executed correctly.” When it comes to cross merchandising ideas in the pasta category, retailers can find an abundance of ways to create spaces where products that complement each other can be displayed together. For one, retailers could display pasta products with olive oil products, Mesa says. He encourages retailers to pack their private brand pasta in cardboard instead of cellophane. “This [type of package] could be costlier but it creates a higher perceived value of the product,” he adds. “[They are] easier to merchandise and there is less damage when handled by the final customer.” A combination of good merchandising and aggressive quarterly promotions could help consumers give private brand pasta a try. “Assuming the customer is happy and sees a quality and pricing advantage relative to the national brand equivalent, we’ve seen the customer stick with the private brand,” Laudiero says. To give an example, he says offering a “4 for $5” promotion on a premium pasta that might normally retail at $1.79 is big enough to draw consumers to try the brand. LOOKING AHEAD Growing store brand pasta and rice — especially the premium tier — takes some extra work. But the payoff is worthwhile, especially for pasta. “We think offering a well-sourced quality pasta at a competitive price, in a nicely designed private label package and merchandised correctly gives retailers a great opportunity against the national brand equivalents in the premium and organic pasta segments,” Laudiero says. SB Jevtic is a freelance writer from Schaumburg, Ill.


FROZEN GETS A MAKEOVER For years, we have been told that fresh — not frozen — was best. Fast-forward to the busy pace of today’s lifestyles and that perspective has changed. We have grown to appreciate and to rely on the convenience and ease of frozen entrees and meals. Now, a new crop of frozen entrees is making it easier to eat healthy by delivering less-processed meals that also meet specific dietary needs and preferences while featuring an ethnic twist. According to a recent report from market research firm Mintel on frozen and refrigerated prepared meals, products such as entrees in bowls and value-added veggies marketed as starch replacements are fueling usage and sales. Private brands are incorporating these trends to expand their frozen entrée offerings too. Created for Walmart by Islandia, N.Y.-based Whitsons Culinary Group, a foodservice company,

the Tastefully Plated Paleo frozen entrée line features paleo meals without dairy, grains or refined sugars. At Holland, Mich-based Request Foods, Jeff Gehres, senior director of sales and product development, says the company is developing more meals with cauliflower. “The cauliflower can either be mashed or used as whole pieces,” he explains. The Sriracha Shrimp Bowl from Trader Joe’s is billed as a “meal in a bowl.” Featuring red and brown rice and a blend of vegetables, the singleserve frozen entrée includes shrimp topped with a spicy Asian Sriracha sauce. But who is driving these trends? According to Mintel, younger consumers are the most demanding when it comes to their frozen meal options. Not only are they interested in more portable pack-

DO try to update flavors and showcase meal components consumers can use to create their own combinations. DON’T be afraid to experiment with global ingredients.


Store Brands /September 2018 /

CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE FROZEN ENTREES aging and meals that adhere to dietary preferences, they also want a greater variety of cuisines. “Millennials are now purchasing more frozen single-serve meals and it is important for our R&D team to capitalize on this,” Gehres says. “We have been developing a variety of new ethnic singleserve cuisines [such as] Mediterranean, Mexican, Japanese [and] Thai.” Other retailers are going a step further and embracing international flavors in a big way. Keasbey, N.J.-based ShopRite, debuted its latest store brand, ShopRite Trading Company in late spring 2018. The new line consists of premium, artisanal foods inspired by a variety of world cuisines and can be found in nearly every aisle including frozen. Foods and flavors are imported from Italy, Ecuador, Spain and Greece, among others. “We sent our ShopRite experts around the world in search of the very best ingredients and finest products,” says ShopRite Spokeswoman Karen Meleta in a press release. “The Shop Rite Trading Company brand captures those culinary adventures with authentic products and recipes that bring the best of the world’s cuisines right to your home.” Even tried-and-true frozen staples like lasagna

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CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE FROZEN ENTREES Single-serve frozen dinners/entrees Private Brands

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Source: Infoscan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Total U.S. supermarkets, drugstores, mass market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains for the 52 weeks ending June 17, 2018.

are getting a flavor update. “Any ingredients that are now being used on pizzas we can also include in lasagna,” Gehres says. “For example, a barbeque chicken lasagna, pizza lasagna, roasted vegetable lasagna [and] seafood lasagna.” Looking ahead, the frozen meals and entrees category will continue to grow. But store brand offerings could take some steps to better position themselves to reap the most rewards, especially if they promote mixing and matching meals and sides. The Mintel report suggests retailers use secondary freezer case locations adjacent to perimeter departments. Organizing the primary freezer case to highlight meal components would also allow shoppers to create their own combinations of entrees and sides. “I feel that the frozen meal category will continue to grow over the next five years,” Gehres says. “The consumer will continue to realize the benefits of great-tasting frozen meals and how convenient they are.” SB Jevtic is a freelance writer from , Schaumburg, Ill.

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Store Brands /September 2018 /

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HEALTHY OUTLOOK, DESPITE A FEW CHALLENGES Sometimes it’s not easy to stay healthy, and get all the nutrients we need in the food and beverages we consume. So more than half of Americans take multivitamins and at least one vitamin supplement, according to a 2017 Journal of Nutrition study. Roughly 29 percent of older adults (over 65) take four or more supplements a day, a recent Gallop poll revealed. Market research firm IRI says 2018 is a bonus year for store brand vitamins and supplements, mainly because of the surging trends in health and wellness. Dollar sales and unit sales of both private and name brand vitamins are up in the 52 weeks ending June 17, but private brand dollar sales outpaced last year’s sales for the same period by 6.6 percent, while all brands were up only 3.9 percent. IRI says dollar sales climbed 2.9 percent for all supplement brands and 5.2 percent for private brands. “Private brands

continue moving away from being a low-price option. Now they’re more targeted and unique, with more custom formulations and distinctive products than ever before,” says Brianne Vaskovardzic, director of marketing for Oklahoma City-based Norax Supplements, a private brand manufacturer. “The focus for supplements is on emerging ingredients, but there is also a significant opportunity in existing categories such as sports nutrition, probiotics, meal replacement and weight loss.” There are challenges, however, for vitamins and supplements overall. Market researcher Mintel says consumers continue to struggle with trust, costs and the shopping experience associated with vitamins and supplements. “To best position vitamins and supplements, category players should emphasize natural qualities, transparency and online sales to drive growth,” explains Jana Vyleta, Mintel’s health

DO offer a variety of products that emphasize ‘clean’ qualities. Be transparent. DON’T neglect the look of your packaging. Try eye-catching but upscale features.


Store Brands /September 2018 /

CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS and personal care analyst. Private brands should highlight the role vitamins and supplements play in a healthy lifestyle, and widen their natural and organic offerings to maximize their advantages, Vyleta recommends. Patricia Jones, general manager of sales for Miami Lakes, Fla.-based Mason Vitamins, says listening to customers and researching retail data are critical for success. “Capturing web search data enables the retailer to determine the optimal mix of branded and private label products,” Jones notes. “Many top store brand retailers also invest in marketing, merchandising and analytics to further drive sales, but overall engagement in these activities varies widely. Many retailers use their websites to drum up online engagement, and often incorporate unique sections on their sites to promote their private brand and engage consumers.” In some cases, retailers also merchandise private brands as premium, investing marketing dollars or positioning them as value/substitute brands by pricing them below national brands, Jones says. Condition-specific products are trending, Jones

says, noting products geared toward women that promote beauty from within, relieve menopause symptoms, strengthen bones as well as products that meet top health challenges, specifically diet. Turmeric and coconut oil supplements and their many therapeutic applications are also finding their way into private brand selections she adds. CUSTOMIZATION, CONSUMER EDUCATION Special formulations can help store brand vitamins and supplements stand out. “Store brands can also build on opportunities by providing a diverse product line,” Vaskovardzic says. “Core vitamins and minerals will remain consistent sellers, yet yield lower margins, while trending ingredients allow for premium pricing, but [will be] affected by the market environment, and therefore, be subject to more volatility. A larger product portfolio can help build both brand loyalty and profitability. Store brands also must stay on top of the latest trends.” But whether brand owners alter an existing formulation or develop an entirely new product, customizing the brand is “extremely important”

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Store Brands /September 2018 /

CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS to reach new customers and to build brand loyalty, Vaskovardzic says. Educating consumers on health, diet and wellness is more important than ever, sources say. “Exhibit the category as a vitamin and supplement resource by offering consumers a [current] trending assortment with a knowledgeable staff and in-store education materials,” Jones advises retailers. “If vitamins and supplements are not merchandised and promoted properly, consumers may overlook them in grocery.” Own brand retailers should also consider the demographics before vitamins or supplements are developed, because such products can be influenced by personalization, popular diets and gender- and age-specific criteria. “Personalized nutrition is key in the immune health category because consumers select products based on specific need states,” says John Quilter, vice president and general manager of Kerry Functional Ingredients & Actives in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, which produces immune health and probiotic ingredients. “Products should target different groups [seniors, moms, athletes, etc.] in ways that clearly speak to the health benefits [claimed], using on-pack messaging that resonates,” Quilter adds. Some supplements such as exogenous ketone and beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) are being developed to coordinate with the highly profitable keto diet market, Vaskovardzic says. “Digestive support products, turmeric supplements, multi-vitamins (because multivitamins are easily customizable to multiple markets) and core vitamins and minerals will also see steady growth,” he says. CONVENIENT, ATTRACTIVE PACKAGING Store brand packaging should entice shoppers with easy-to-use accessible structures. “Convenience remains the king,” notes Robert Tupta, a project manager at Mold-Rite Plastics in Twinsburg, Ohio. “The older population wants easy-open-and-close packaging, with dispensing features like a flip top. Millennials want packaging to fit their busy lifestyles that is easy to hold and grip. They also demand transparency in labeling and information verifying product efficacy.” Tupta doesn’t see many flexible pouches in this market, but says they could work with the new gummy products, which are typically larger than pills or capsules. Marny Bielefeldt, vice president of marketing at St. Louis-based Alpha Packaging, agrees. “Gummies and chews tend to clump together

Vitamins Private Brands

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Private Brands

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Mineral Supplements


Source: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Total U.S. multi-outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the latest 52 weeks ending June 17.

during the filling process,” Bielefeldt adds. “Wider 63-millimeter openings can dramatically increase filling speeds and efficiencies.” Appealing graphics give store brands an edge, Tupta says. “Bold colors, labels and packaging easily distinguish condition-specific treatment options and simple, cleaner packaging identifies a store brand, which is becoming critical,” he adds. “Improvements in manufacturing processes and digital printing are helping to accomplish this. More colors, package shapes, custom designs and decorating are appearing on store shelves.” SB Hartman, the managing editor of Store Brands, can be reached at /September 2018 / Store Brands



Snack Bites “ Store brand snacks are outpacing national brands, and in 2017 began posting dollar growth of more than three times the rate of branded products.” NIELSEN’S TOTAL CONSUMER REPORT, MARCH 2018

Snacking Trends

71% 10%

How many U.S. consumers snack at least two or three times a day.

Store brands current market share of the snack market. Source: IRI

Source: Mintel

9.3% The increase in total points of distribution for store brand snack shelf space over the past four years, compared to


for national brands. Source: IRI

$502 MILLION Sales of store brand potato chips in 2017, an increase of 9.2 percent over the previous year. Source: IRI

“ Health as well as decadence trends prove there is enough space for better-for-you, indulgent and even some in-between options in the snack space.” MICHAEL AVERBOOK, MINTEL FOOD AND DRINK ANALYST, ON WHAT HE SAW AT THE 2018 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO


Store Brands / September 2018 /

50% The number of Americans who say they snack to treat themselves. Source: Mintel


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Innovation ation · Inspiration ation · V Value alue The opportunities in Frozen en Bread are unparalleled. A category positioned to offer exactly what consumers crave. The foundations are: Unmatched Food-Value Heart-warming, Grandma-approved Approachable, Inspiring destination items At Furlani we cater to trends not fads. Providing best-in-class retailers and food service operators with core-assortment items, plus gourmet-nostalgia signature products.