Store Brands - Oct 2018

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Introducing the Top Women in Store Brands

How to gain shopper feedback

Getting social with Geoff White October 2018 |

Marie-France Gibson and her team challenge each other in their quest to grow retailer’s own brands with quality products that consumers will embrace and enjoy


Volume 40 No. 10 October 2018


Editor’s Take




Around the Industry


Getting Social


End Cap





Coffee and Tea

Metro’s Mission


Candy and Chocolate


Canned Fruits and Vegetables


Paper Products


Pet Products

Private brands team’s leaders challenge each other and work together to grow Metro’s own brands with quality products that consumers will embrace and enjoy

FEATURES 32 TOP WOMEN IN STORE BRANDS True pros The 2018 Top Women in Store Brands aren’t just top women in their profession, they are top professionals in their profession

44 FOCUS ON FRESH Standing out with soup


Whether a comfort food or vehicle for creative experimentation, fresh-prepared soup can captivate customers and differentiate grocery retailers from the competition

49 PRIVATE LABEL TRADE SHOW PREVIEW Stars of the show Check out some of the companies that will exhibit at this year’s event


Gaining customer feedback

Gaining shopper feedback is critical to improving the in-store experience. Here’s how to do it

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 / October 2018 /

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EDITOR’S TAKE Business Intelligence for an Evolving Market

8550 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631 (773) 992-4450

Vice President/Brand Director


Eric Savitch


EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief

Lawrence Aylward

(330) 635-2586

Managing Editor

Lauren Hartman

(224) 231-6359

Contributing Writers

Here’s the great thing about the 2018 Top Women in Store Brands. Every single one of this year’s honorees said they couldn’t have achieved what they have achieved in the past year and throughout their careers if it wasn’t for the help of others. How noble is that? Makes you realize that these women — for all they have accomplished — are not all about themselves. They acknowledge that their success stems from others who have contributed to their accomplishments. This year’s nine Top Women in Store Brands are profiled beginning on page 32. Each year, Store Brands and Women Impacting Store Brand Excellence (WISE), a professional development organization, solicit nominations from the private brand industry to identify and honor a select few of these women through the Top Women in Store Brands program, which was created to provide welldeserved recognition for female professionals who have achieved exceptional success and bring a passion for store brands to their day-to-day activities. I interviewed this year’s nominees, and each one of them made it a point to give credit where credit is due: to their peers, teams, bosses and family members. Sure, they were taking the high road by doing so. But I could hear the genuine sincerity in their voices when they told me there were others who needed to be recognized along with them. “Certainly, I wouldn’t be able to have accomplishments if it weren’t for all the great people I work with. I never lose sight of that,” Albertsons Cos.’ Nancy Cota, one of two recipients for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, told me. Simmons Pet Foods’ Leah Lambrakis, who is receiving this year’s Research and Development/Quality Assurance Award, was just as grateful to her coworkers. “I am where I am because of my team. They are the people who make it happen,” she said. Encore Associates’ Crystal Butler, who is being honored with this year’s Marketing/Merchandising Award, said she was proud of the honor, but “I want to share it with everybody” because it “couldn’t happen without teamwork.” The other honorees voiced similar comments. The nine women being honored this year — also including Kimberly Giryluk of Lassonde Pappas and Co., Robin VanDenabeele of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, Stephanie Harris of the Food Marketing Institute, Kasey Sheffer of Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services, Heidi Knapp of Whole Foods Market and Vicki Smith of TreeHouse Foods — aren’t just Top Women in Store Brands. They are top professionals in the industry. Fact is, they would probably be top professionals in any industry. They are driven and passionate about their work, which are givens to be considered for these awards. But they are also self-effacing in their willingness to credit others for the credits they receive. They have been placed on a pedestal, but they won’t take that pedestal alone.

Rich Mitchell, Dana Cvetan, Nevenka Jevtic

ADVERTISING & SALES Associate Brand Director Suzanne Caputo

(201) 855-7628

Regional Sales Manager

Kari Mills

(773) 992-4420

CUSTOM MEDIA Director of Client Services, Enterprise Solutions Kaeli Elisco (224) 632-8221

AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT Director of Audience Engagement

Gail Reboletti

Audience Engagemnet Manager

Shelly Patton

(215) 301-0593

List Rental


847-492-1350, ext. 318

Elizabeth Jackson

Subscriber Services/Single-copy Purchases 978-671-0449

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President Production Kathryn Homenick

(973) 358-4875

Creative Director

Colette Magliaro

Custom Project Manager

Kathy Colwell

Custom Project Manager

Judi Lam

Advertising/Production Manager (973) 607-1322

Pat Wisser


Please contact Wright’s Media at or (877) 652-5295.


Alan Glass

Chief Executive Officer

David Shanker

Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer

Richard Rivera

Chief Brand Officer

Korry Stagnito

President, The Path to Purchase Institute Chief Digital Officer

Terese Herbig Joel Hughes

Chief Human Resources Officer Senior Vice President, Innovation

Jennifer Turner Tanner Van Dusen


Lawrence Aylward, Editor-in-Chief 6

Store Brands / October 2018 /










De-Lish Aerosol Cheese ™

Your Preferred Supplier Visit us at PLMA Booth F3730 Old Fashioned Foods • PO Box 111 • 650 Furnace Street Mayville, Wisconsin 53050 800-346-0154 •


By Todd Maute

Todd Maute, a partner at CBX, a brand agency and retail consultancy, can be reached at


Why smaller store brand manufacturers are back in vogue Small is good again in the world of store brands. To understand why, consider the paradigm shift that has occurred in manufacturing over the past few years. In the early stages of store brand development, the retail industry was extremely fragmented. Makers of store brands mostly provided me-too products to the profusion of smaller, regional grocers that comprised the bulk of the U.S. market. In this older model, they were content to let national brands bear the expense of spurring product innovation. With time, though, American retail became heavily consolidated. National chains swooped in and gobbled up regional grocers. Some store brand manufacturers scaled up in direct response. With time, their business model began to mirror that of the big consumer packaged goods (CPG) makers: It was all about managing volume and developing scale. Fortunately, others took a different path. A considerable number of store brand manufacturers stayed nimble. They understood that changing tastes were driving demand for niche products. It takes a massive operation to produce store brand potato chips for a national discounter. But if the retailer wants to populate its organic section with unique products — chipotle cassava chips fried in avocado oil, let’s say — a niche manufacturer fits the bill. But while tastes might have initially changed mostly on the fringe, the craving for uniqueness went mainstream fast. And that caught many of the largest-scale CPG players off balance. In the last five years, in fact, aggregate revenues at the top 10 publicly traded, packaged food and beverage companies declined by about 15 percent, according to a

Store Brands / October 2018 /

recent report in the The Philadelphia Inquirer. One of the biggest culprits for this sluggishness, experts believe, is lack of innovation and the consumer’s desire for more fresh, healthier and unique products. When you count your revenues in the billions of dollars, being nimble isn’t easy. But for the many specialty manufacturers operating in today’s store brands sector, innovation is doable. When national chains need new ideas, they’re increasingly turning to these smaller players. Large CPG companies, for their part, are increasingly investing in incubators and startups as well. The race is on, in other words, to meet the changing demands, needs and wants of consumers today, whether you’re talking about products that are unique, premium or fresh. Now that smaller manufacturers are back in vogue, retailers need to seize the opportunity and leverage these resources to develop unique private brand offers. Will this really drive customer loyalty? According to market researcher Nielsen, sales of private brand products have been growing at more than triple the rate of conventional brands, especially on the premium end. A recent survey by Daymon showed that 81 percent of U.S. consumers now buy store brands almost every time they shop. That means strategic partnerships between store brand manufacturers and retailers can shift the innovation game to their own court. Niche manufacturers can bring high-quality products to market with remarkable speed, so long as they have the right mindset and commitment. The key is to be clear about the strategy. Instead of thinking exclusively in terms of price, value and variety, store brands need to continually test their boundaries. For their part, retailers have more relevant customer data than CPG manufacturers had 20 years ago. That means they can customize product offers to an incredible degree. Chains should continue to seek out creative manufacturers — and empower them to make innovation their top priority. SB


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Gingrich bullish on America Former politician cites country’s ongoing ‘sheer technological revolution’ as reasons for growth and prosperity

By Lawrence Aylward

Newt Gingrich speaks during the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Washington Conference Oct. 1 and 2. The private brands industry is thriving. In the past year, several studies have reported on the growth of private brands, and those studies forecast even more future growth. And if you believe Newt Gingrich, who says the U.S. is at the beginning of a long period of prosperity and growth, the private brands industry could have its best days ahead of it. Gingrich, the speaker of the house from 1995 through 1999 and a 2012 presidential candidate, spoke at the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (PLMA) Washington Conference on Oct. 2 in the nation’s capital. “People have no idea of the scale of American wealth that is coming down


the road,” Gingrich, a conservative Republican, told attendees. “There could be 30 or 40 years of growth … unless we really work hard to screw it up.” Gingrich cited the country’s ongoing “sheer technological revolution” and the ability of companies like to take cost out of the system to grow and succeed. “It’s not like anything I have ever seen,” Gingrich said. “And it’s just going to accelerate.” Gingrich said he believes “we are very close to a turning point when we are going to start taking cost out of health care,” noting he thinks health care costs could be reduced by 40 percent. For instance, Gingrich said

Store Brands / October 2018 /

the health care industry is beginning to migrate away from kidney dialysis centers and to home-administered kidney dialysis, the latter of which he said is 90 percent cheaper. “[This] will be a revolution for the economy, and that will make us more competitive than we are now,” he added. “It will just be astonishing.” However, there are distractions and even possible barriers to that growth, Gingrich stressed. The 75-year-old said America “is in the middle of a cultural civil war” that has created much hostility on both sides of the political spectrum. “Nobody should assume there is some automatic solution to this,” he added. “And I think it’s going to go on for a long time until one side gets exhausted.” He also cited immigration issues, saying that a system needs to be in place that is sustainable. Another challenge is the war on terrorism, which Gingrich expects to last another 100 years. And then there’s President Donald Trump, who Gingrich said “does a lot of stuff that is self-destructive” and who has alienated many Americans with his behavior. But Gingrich says Trump is getting “a lot of stuff done” and commended him for the recent trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Gingrich said he told Trump in a meeting between the two of them that “10 percent less Trump would be 100 percent more effective.” Despite the country’s problems and challenges, Gingrich said he’s an optimist. “I think this is the most astonishing and successful country in the world because we allow people to pursue happiness,” he said. Gingrich reiterated his prediction that the U.S. is in a position to achieve long-term economic growth and prosperity. “We’re about to have another cycle of innovation, and you’re going to see explosive things happening that will dramatically improve the quality of life,” he said. SB

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AroundtheIndustry SHORT TAKES

Outstanding own brands PLMA names winners of 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards program

By Lawrence Aylward

Target rolls out value line Target debuted Smartly, a private brand line of essential and personal care products for budgetconscious shoppers, on Oct. 14 in stores and online. The Minneapolis-based retailer is promoting the line as products that “get the job done but don’t cost an arm and a leg.” Smartly includes more than 70 everyday items, from all-purpose cleaner and body lotion to paper plates and razor blades, with most items less than $2. Target will continue to add to the line with new products through early 2019.

Kroger debuts Dip

Store Brands’ Editor-in-Chief Lawrence Aylward helped judge products in PLMA’s Salute to Excellence Awards program.

Innovation ruled at the Private Label Manufacturing Association’s (PLMA) 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards program. In this year’s competition, more than 500 new private brand food and non-food products were evaluated by panels of industry professionals and consumers. Judges selected 53 products — 38 food and 15 non-food items, for the Salute to Excellence Awards. In a press release citing the winners, PLMA stated, “Gone are the days when supermarkets offered only commodity products that imitated national brands.” Indeed. Innovation abounds in private brands today like it has never before. “What is really amazing is how good retailers have become in spotting trends and developing new products,” said PLMA President Brian Sharoff in a press release. “Ten years ago, all you heard were complaints from national brands about how private label was nothing more than copycats. Now it is the retailers and their store brands’ suppliers who are pioneering and leading the way.” The products were evaluated by panels of industry professionals and consum-


ers. I was fortunate to be part of the panel that judged a few categories last June in New York. It’s clear that retailers of all sorts, from supermarkets to club stores to convenience stores, are striving to develop and offer exclusive products. And they are succeeding. In the grocery segment of PLMA’s competition, PLMA cited the unusual but winning flavor combinations of some products, such as Metro’s Irresistibles Green Tea and White Chocolaty Ice Cream Bar and Albertsons Signature Select Chipotle Craft Beer BBQ Sauce. Others reflect the latest consumer trends, such as Aldi’s Earth Grown Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger, Sobey’s Compliments Naturally Simple Ancient Grain Steel Cut Oatmeal, Walmart’s Great Value Ciabatta Pizza Crusts, and 7-Eleven’s 7-Select Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic Juice. PLMA said retailers also introduced innovative products that have international flair, such as Earth Fare’s Himalayan Pink Salt Kettle Chips. And some offer distinctive ingredients, including Wegmans for its Pasilla Pepper Adobo Bold Roasted

Store Brands / October 2018 /

The Kroger Co. introduced its Dip own brand clothing line to 300 of its Fred Meyer and Marketplace stores in September. In a press release, the Cincinnati-based retailer called Dip a “fresh, fun, effortless style brand.” The Dip collection offers clothing for men, women, young men, juniors, kids, toddlers and babies. More than 80 percent of the Dip collection costs $19 or less.

H-E-B to develop tech facility in Austin, Texas In its efforts to become a dominant force in the digital retail space, San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B said it has leased a building in East Austin, Texas, to develop a world-class technology facility and innovation lab for its growing digital team and for Austin-based Favor Delivery, its on-demand delivery service subsidiary, according to a press release. Set for completion in the spring of 2019, the recently renovated industrial warehouse will be transformed into “a creative and collaborative workspace for H-E-B’s partners (employees) of the digital team and Favor’s corporate headquarters,” the press release added. H-E-B said it will fully customize the two-story, 81,000 square-foot facility, which is within walking distance of its 7th Street H-E-B grocery store.

Aldi named Value Leader for eighth-consecutive year Batavia, Ill.-based retailer Aldi continues to gain recognition for value. For the eighth-straight year, Aldi, which offers a 90 percent assortment of private brands, was named the Value Leader by Market Force Information, which surveyed nearly 13,000 U.S. consumers. In addition to earning the top spot for value, Aldi moved up to No. 4 among America’s favorite grocery stores, as measured by customer satisfaction and loyalty, Market Force Information said in a press release. Aldi was also the only grocery retailer among the top five to increase its loyalty score year-over-year. SB

AroundtheIndustry Chili Paste. Products sourced at origin were winners, too, like Kroger’s HemisFares Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wakefern’s Shop Rite Trading Company Imported Artichoke Hearts from Peru and Lidl’s Preferred Selection British Vintage Cheddar Cheese. Non-food award winners also feature unusual ingredients, such as Trader Joe’s Cucumber Avocado Body Butter and Lavender Tea Tree Scent Liquid Dish Soap, while Thrive Market was recognized for its Coconut Sunscreen Lip Balm, Liquid Lavender Laundry Detergent and Bamboo+Recycled Bath Tissue. In the personal care and wellness category, Walgreens won with its C.Y.O Eyeshadow Palette Rainbow Warrior Colors. Among the health care winners was CVS Health’s Pro Strength Kinesiology Tape. Retailers and wholesalers across the U.S., Canada and Latin America were asked to submit their new store brands products for consideration. The products were reviewed for innovation based on trends in the category, the markets in which the retailer operates and what competitors were offering, according to PLMA In addition to innovation and product concept, products were also judged for taste, texture and smell, packaging and presentation, and value for money. The winning products will be on display at PLMA’s 2018 Private Label Trade Show Nov. 11-13 at the Rosemont Convention Center near Chicago.

Here’s a complete list of winners: FOOD FOR THE FAMILY

Walmart Great Value 2 Ciabatta Pizza Crusts

Appetizers & Hors d’oeuvres Lidl Italiamo Seafood Cocktail with Marinade & Basil

Soup (tie) Thrive Market Thrive Market Organic Bone Broth

Main Dishes Aldi Parkview Select/Cuts Three Cheese Uncured Cooked Chicken Sausage

Ahold Delhaize USA Store Brand Logo Chicken & Chorizo Sausage Gumbo

Side Dishes Sobeys Compliments Super Green Blend Frozen Vegetables

Breakfast Foods Sobeys Compliments Naturally Simple Ancient Grain Steel Cut Oatmeal

BAKERY & DESSERTS Deli/Prepared Foods Lidl No Name Pulled Chicken with BBQ Sauce Pizza

Cakes & Pies BJ’s Wholesale Club Wellsley Farms White Chocolate Twist Cake

Pizza (tie) Metro Irresistibles Canadian Mega Pizza

Breads, Rolls & Muffins Wakefern ShopRite Trading Company Garlic Tandoori Naan

It’s all about the food!


Store Brands / October 2018 /

Ragozzino Foods, Inc. • 10 Ames Ave., Meriden, CT 06451 800-348-1240 •

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

AroundtheIndustry Ice Cream & Frozen Novelties Metro Irresistibles Green Tea & White Chocolaty Coating Ice Cream Bars Cookies Costco Wholesale Kirkland Signature European Pastries Breakfast Cereal Metro Irresistibles Naturalia Coconut Flakes & Hemp Seeds Granola

SNACKS Chips & Crisps Earth Fare Earth Fare Himalayan Pink Salt Kettle Chips Nibbles & Noshes Hy-Vee Peaceful Piranha Sweet BBQ Peanut Poppers Candy & Chocolate Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Toasted Sesame Caramels Spreads & Dips Wakefern Wholesome Pantry Organic Raspberry Preserves Children’s Foods Southeastern Grocers SE Grocers Apple Sauce Pouches Variety Pack BEVERAGES Juices, Energy & Flavored Drinks 7-Eleven 7-Select Go! Smart Clean & Green Cold Pressed Organic Juice Hot Beverages Uniquely J Single Serve Diner Blend Coffee


Soda & Flavored Waters (tie) H-E-B Central Market Organic Lemon Italian Soda Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Rhubarb & Strawberry Soda HEALTHY EATING Healthy & Natural Wakefern Wholesome Pantry Organic Beet Hummus Organic Albertsons O Organics Japanese Inspired Salad with Yuzu Vinaigrette Dressing

MEAL PREPARATION Ingredients Wegmans Wegmans Food You Feel Good About Pasilla Pepper Adobo Bold Roasted Chili Paste Dressings/Marinades & Oils The Kroger Co. HemisFares Cornicabra Extra Virgin Olive Oil Pasta & Pasta Dishes Earth Fare Earth Fare Organic Spirali Organic Macaroni Pasta Sauces & Cooking Sauces Target Simply Balanced Portabella Mushroom Pasta Sauce

Vegetarian/Vegan Aldi Earth Grown Quinoa Crunch Veggie Burger

Asian Food Aldi Season’s Choice Steamed Asian Seasoned Medley

Special Dietary Foods

Mexican/Latin American Foods

Wegmans Wegmans Organic CauliCrème

Wakefern ShopRite Trading Company Imported Artichoke Hearts from Peru

Infants & Toddlers Topco Tippy Toes Organic Organic Baby Food Apple Zucchini Spinach Strawberry

Condiments Albertsons Signature Select Chipotle Craft Beer BBQ Sauce

DAIRY Cheese Lidl Preferred Selection British Vintage Cheddar Cheese

PERSONAL CARE & WELLNESS Body Care & Hair Care Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Cucumber Avocado Body Butter

Dairy & Non-Dairy Milk Walmart Great Value Lactose Free Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Beauty Care & Cosmetics Walgreens C.Y.O Eyeshadow Palette Rainbow Warrior Colors

Yogurt Walmart Great Value On The Go Lowfat Yogurt Tubes

Baby Target Cloud Island Diaper Bags

Store Brands / October 2018 /

Men’s Grooming Costco Wholesale Kirkland Signature Triple Blade Razor & Cartridges

Bath & Shower Walmart Equate Beauty Rainfall Bath Gel HEALTH CARE OTC Albertsons Signature Care Emoji Adhesive Bandages Health Care CVS CVS Health Pro Strength Kinesiology Tape Sun Care & Toiletries Thrive Market Thrive Market Coconut Sunscreen Lip Balm Children Walgreens Walgreens Suncare Family Pack HOME & HOUSEHOLD Kitchen & Cooking Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Lavender Tea Tree Scent Liquid Dish Soap Home & Garden BJ’s Wholesale Club Berkley Jensen Folding Wagon with Tray Laundry & Cleaning Thrive Market Thrive Market Liquid Lavender Laundry Detergent Paper & Plastic Thrive Market Thrive Market Bamboo + Recycled Bath Tissue Pet Food & Pet Care (tie) BJ’s Wholesale Club Berkley & Jensen Puppy Chicken & Rice Holistic Recipe Food Metro Irresistibles Apple & Chicken Dog Treats SB


Q A with Geoff White President of Own Brands, Albertsons Cos. How did you come into the world of private brands? I’ve spent 37 years in retail and merchandising with Albertsons Cos., and I have been in my current role for 18 months. Because of my experience, I was challenged by our leadership to look at our private label strategy differently in the face of a fast-changing grocery business. They trusted that “know-how,” and I feel really privileged to lead the incredibly talented team we have. Describe the private brands industry in one word. Electrifying. What do you like most about the industry? Fast-paced, customer-focused and tons of opportunities for growth. What one great thing does the industry have going for it? Customers at Albertsons Cos.’ stores have recognized that our Geoff White enjoys spending time with family and friends when he's not innovating at the company, whether it’s at a Green Bay Packers game or the beach at Monterrey, Calif.

Own Brands are about more than just value. Excellent quality, leading innovation and unique products and brands are leading the way. For example, O Organics is a top brand across our entire store, and our customers have rewarded us by making it a $1 billion brand. Customers trust our Own Brands to satisfy their needs more than ever before. If you could create one private brand product, what would it be? Build an item that has such stark-raving fans that it becomes worth $1 billion. Who is your hero and why? My wife Diane. I never could have accomplished what I have in my career without her unwavering support. She has too many incredible traits to list, but my favorite is that she always believes in me. That is so powerful every time I set off to work. What’s the best advice someone ever gave you? It comes from my wife every day. She says, “Always choose happy.” I work hard to do exactly that. It’s 5 o’clock (or later), what do you do for fun? My family and friends are the most important things to me. Anytime I can surround myself with them always turns into fun. You have a week off. Where do you go and why? Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Sun, sand, surf and a little tequila mixed in. What song do you love to crank up in the car? “Night Train by Guns N’ Roses. I grew up in the 1980s and have heavy-metal music flowing in my veins. SB


Store Brands / October 2018 /

build The pet food brand that will fly off the shelf!

C O M E S E E U S AT B O OT H F 8 8 1 9 AT P L M A !

Product images above represent American Nutrition’s capabilities and do not depict actual products.

Nutrition, Quality and Safety. That’s what today’s pet parents demand. Since 1972, American Nutrition has been helping build pet food brands that surpass even the highest safety and quality standards.


Metro’s private brands team is led by (left to right) Marie Horodecki-Aymes, MarieFrance Gibson, Paula Deane and Annie St-Laurent. Their goal is to increase Metro’s sales of private brands by 4 percent in the next two years.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

metro’s mission Private brands team’s leaders challenge each other and work together in their quest to grow Metro’s own brands with quality products that consumers will embrace and enjoy BY LAWRENCE AYLWARD

In a center-store aisle at a Metro supermarket in Montreal, four women gather around a shopping cart full of Metro’s private brand products. The women — Marie-France Gibson, Paula Deane, Marie HorodeckiAymes and Annie St-Laurent — are assembled in the store on this late summer morning for a photo shoot and to be interviewed for this story. With the women gathered around the cart of products, the photographer aims his camera and snaps away. The women are all smiles, enjoying the occasion. They laugh and joke. Clearly, they appreciate each other’s company. The women are the leaders of the private brands team for Montreal-based Metro, which operates several banners in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Gibson, Metro’s vice president of corporate brands, leads the team; Deane is the director of product development for private brands; Horodecki-Aymes is director of design and packaging for private brands; and St-Laurent is director of business development and negotiation for private brands. Together, they make the strategic decisions regarding Metro’s store brands. The fact that four women head the private brands team for one of Canada’s leading grocers is a victory for gender equality. But Gibson, Deane, HorodeckiAymes and St-Laurent don’t flaunt that fact. If they are singularly or collectively proud of it — and they should be — they never let on. Their goal as professionals is simple: They are on an infinite quest to grow Metro’s private brands program with quality products that Canadian consumers will / October 2018 / Store Brands


Metro’s Irresistibles private brand features an array of products, including (1) Naturalia, a line of products free from undesirable ingredients; (2) premium products, such as gourmet pizza; and (3) the retailer’s popular ice cream line.


1 3 embrace and enjoy. To achieve a successful private brands program, they know they must bond, whether they’re in a high-level business meeting or yakking it up during a photo shoot. They need each other, even if they don’t always see eye to eye. “We’re all different, and sometimes we don’t agree with each other,” Horodecki-Aymes says. “But we always find ways to achieve the best results possible.” Horodecki-Aymes says this in the presence of her coworkers, who couldn’t agree more with her words. “We are honest with each other,” St-Laurent adds. “We challenge each other, but in the end we need to find solutions together.” Deane doesn’t take her relationships with Gibson, Horodecki-Aymes and St-Laurent for granted. “You don’t see this in all organizations,” Deane says of their rapport. “And that’s what makes this team

really strong. We have strong opinions about things, yet we are respectful of each other’s opinions. I really appreciate the opportunity to work with everybody.”


Gibson, Deane, Horodecki-Aymes and St-Laurent know how important it is to be in sync because they have some major goals in front of them. One is to increase Metro’s sales of private brands by 4 percent in the next two years. To do that, Gibson says Metro’s private brand team will need to innovate and execute. “Within our private label team, innovative ideas are welcome,” she adds. “They can come from all members. But we need to execute them. That is the key to success.” Metro, which began in 1947, is the third-largest grocer in Canada after Loblaws and Sobeys. With annual sales of about $16 billion, Metro operates

“We’re all different, and sometimes we don’t agree with each other. But we always find ways to achieve the best results possible.” — MARIE HORODECKI-AYMES 22

Store Brands / October 2018 /

tiers touch myriad categories Metro offers several tiers of private brands under two brand names, Selection and Irresistibles. They include: Selection — National brand equivalent line of food, beverage and non-food items. Selection Eco — Eco-friendly household and cleaning products line. Irresistibles — Premium line of food, beverage and non-food products. Irresistibles Life Smart — Food products featuring lower salt, sugar and fat. Some products are vitamin-enriched. more than 600 grocery stores under several banners, including Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics, as well as about 700 drugstores under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners. Metro and Metro Plus comprise 333 of the grocers. Metro’s private brands are sold throughout its banners, but the company wouldn’t disclose sales figures. Metro offers several tiers of private brands under its Selection and Irresistibles lines. Selection is Metro’s national brand equivalent line and includes more than 2,500 grocery products. It’s the retailer’s largest-selling private brand. Under the line, Metro also offers Selection Eco, a line of eco-friendly household and cleaning products. Irresistibles is Metro’s upscale line and features premium and exclusive food, beverage and non-food products. The line has grown over the years and now has several extensions, including Irresistibles Organics, Irresistibles Gluten-Free, Irresistibles Artisan (premium deli meats and premium bakery) and Irresistibles Life Smart (lower salt, sugar and fat, and vitamin-enriched). Last year, Metro launched Irresistibles Naturalia,

Irresistibles Naturalia — Line of food and beverage products that are natural and free-from undesirable ingredients. Irresistibles Organic — Line of organic foods and beverages. Irresistibles Artisan — Bakery and deli meat products. Irresistibles Gluten-free — Gluten-free products. featuring products like all-natural peanut butter and grain-fed chicken that are free from artificial and synthetic ingredients. Overall, Metro offers more than 1,500 products in the Irresistibles line. When Gibson began with Metro nine years ago, she focused on improving category management for Metro’s store brands to improve growth opportunities through proper shelving, promotion and pricing. She knew the success of Metro’s private brands hinged on studying and surveying each category, and finding out what tier or tiers of Metro’s private brands made the best sense for each category. It’s a constant process. “We want to make sure our brands stand out,” Gibson says. Metro is careful to only introduce private brands that will make a difference in categories and drive clients to its stores, Gibson stresses. Too many new products could reduce overall impact. In essence, less is best. “Our private brands really need to perk up [categories], so we have to be more sensible [with product introductions],” Gibson says. Because its volume and scale are smaller than

“Within our private label team, innovative ideas are welcome. They can come from all members. But we need to execute them. That is the key to success.” — MARIE-FRANCE GIBSON


Store Brands / October 2018 /


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other retailers in the Canadian market, Gibson says Metro must negotiate more smartly with suppliers. Metro sources most of its private brands from Canadian suppliers because the Canadian dollar is weak compared to the U.S. dollar and euro. But for some categories, including cheese, bakery, sauces, chocolates and olive oil, Metro will import products from suppliers with stellar reputations for manufacturing those products.


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even more value by offering items with more count, like bigger packs, and more significant in-and-outs for different times of year.” Gibson and the team are excited about the growth potential of Irresistibles. Sales for the line, including its extensions, are up 15 percent in 2018, she says. Metro is accentuating Irresistibles because more Canadians want premium private brand products, Gibson says. The line is also where Metro can differentiate most with exclusive items to maintain shopper loyalty. Consider new products like Irresistibles green tea and white chocolaty coated ice cream bars and Irresistibles Naturalia coconut flakes and hemp seeds granola, both which recently received top honors in the Private Label Manufacturing Association’s 2018 Salute to Excellence Awards. In creating new products for Irresistibles, Deane says the strategy is more about than just honing in on trends to create a cutting-edge and dynamic product. “You always have to find the balance between something that is trendy but something that will also resonate with consumers and sell,” she adds. Deane knew that Naturalia coconut flakes and hemp seeds granola was a winning combination of ingredients. First, it was granola, a product of which consumers are familiar. Second, it featured coconut, an ingredient that continues to gain popularity. And, third, it includes hemp seed, an ingredient that consumers are hearing more about because of its health benefits. “It’s about taking something recognizable by the consumer and taking it to the next level,” Deane says of the product. “It fills consumers’ wants and needs for something different.” The good news for Metro and other Canadian retailers of private brands is that private brands continue to grow in sales among Canadian grocers, and consumers are willing to pay more for them, which bodes well for premium products. According to market researcher Nielsen, market share of private brands has grown consistently the past five years. Retail sales of private brands in Canada were $14.4 billion in 2017 with a dollar share of 18.6 percent.

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“But when we convert to volume or consumption, that share jumps to 23.6 percent: Basically almost one quarter of what we consume is a private label product,” Carman Allison, vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen Canada, told Canadian Grocer, Store Brands’ sister publication, earlier this year. “Canadians share very positive attitudes toward private label,” Allison adds. “When we asked consumers if private label is a good alternative to national brands, 70 percent responded positively. We also found high scores for equal quality (63 percent), good value (62 percent), and 34 percent of us are willing to pay more for our favorite private label brand.” Consumers’ willingness to pay more enables retailers to introduce more premium offerings, which is what Metro is doing in grocery and fresh. In the latter, Metro is known for its meat and seafood, especially its kebobs, which the supermarket offers in beef, chicken and lamb varieties with myriad on-trend flavors. Consumer demand for organics and natural products continues to increase in Canada, and Metro realizes the opportunity to grow sales in those categories in fresh through Irresistibles Organics and Irresistibles Naturalia. “The fresh department is going to give [our organic and natural private brands] a big lift,” Gibson says. Deane, who has spent her entire 15-year career in private brands, says “now” is one of the most exciting times she has ever experienced in the industry. Not only are consumers more accepting of private brands, but they are embracing premium products. “Consumers see that we are offering them innovative products,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for us. Our customers will drive to our stores to buy those particular products because they know the quality is there.” On the packaging side, Horodecki-Aymes also strives for innovation and differentiation. When she arrived at Metro about six years ago, Horodecki-Aymes didn’t seek immediate and drastic changes to packaging, which she says could’ve confused customers. She takes a methodical approach, making small changes at a time. She knows the impact that subtle but powerful packaging can have on products, from colors to enticing product photos to taglines that utilize personalization. For instance, the tagline on Irresistibles Naturalia reads, “Nature in your kitchen,” which speaks directly to consumers. Horodecki-Aymes also knows the importance of utility in packaging. It was her idea for Metro to introduce a limitededition glow-in-the-dark box for facial tissues as a private brand so consumers could locate the tissue box in the dark. “It’s about providing our customers with simple and useful solutions,” Horodecki-Aymes says. For Gibson, Deane, Horodecki-Aymes and St-Laurent, it will always be about that — working together to appease Metro’s customers. SB Aylward, editor-in-chief of Store Brands, can be reached at


Store Brands / October 2018 /

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Top Women in Store Brands


Top Women in Store Brands


The 2018 Top Women in Store Brands aren’t just top women in their profession, they are top professionals in their profession


Store Brands / October 2018 /

They are energetic and enthusiastic. They are self-assured as well, but also humble. The 2018 Top Women in Store Brands possess a collective can-do attitude. And while they are proud of their accomplishments, including this honor, they will be the first to tell you that they couldn’t do what they do without others, especially their co-workers and peers. They aren’t just top women in their profession. They are top professionals in their profession. Each year, Store Brands and Women Impacting Store Brand Excellence (WISE), a professional development organization, solicit nominations from the private brand industry to identify and honor a select few of these women through the Top Women in Store Brands program, which was created to provide well-deserved recognition for female professionals who have achieved exceptional success and bring a passion for store brands to their day-to-day activities. This year’s categories of recognition include seven functional expertise areas: innovation; marketing/ merchandising; operations; research and development/quality assurance; human resources/information services; supply chain/procurement; and sales. There are also two lifetime achievement awards given to women who have achieved impressive professional and personal accomplishments during their impactful careers in the private brands industry. The award winners will be recognized during WISE’s annual meeting and luncheon on Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Ill. The event coincides with the opening day of the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s Private Label Trade Show. For more information about the meeting, visit Now, onto this year’s honorees ...

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD NANCY COTA/ALBERTSONS COS. Upon hearing she was receiving such a distinguished award, Nancy Cota says she was “honored, overwhelmed, thrilled and super excited about it.” And then Cota, the vice president of own brands, product management, innovation and brand management for Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., quipped, “I feel like I’m supposed to retire.” That’s how a “lifetime achievement” award might make you feel. But make no mistake, Cota, who has worked in the grocery industry for 45 years, isn’t going anywhere. Cota not only excels at private brands development, but she is one of the most benevolent people you might ever meet. Several years ago, Cota and her husband Kevin adopted three children who are now all 20 years old and in college. “We have made the commitment to get them through college,” says Cota, who also has four adult biological children. “So I have several years before I can retire. And that’s OK.” It’s also good news for Albertsons Cos. “There is no one more committed to our private brands than Nancy,” says Geoff White, president of Albertsons’ Own Brands, who nominated Cota for the award. How committed is Cota? When Safeway launched its Open Nature store brand in 2011, Cota, who worked as a vice president for Safeway at the time and spearheaded the launch of Open Nature, took it upon herself to market the new store brand. Cota, who was driving her motorhome across the country on a family vacation, covered the vehicle with Open Nature signage. She also stopped the motorhome at various Safeway locations to hand out samples of Open Nature products. How’s that for taking one for the team? Cota’s list of accomplishments is impressive; she has left her mark all over Albertsons’ private brand catalogue. White says she was the key leader in the development of Albertsons’ Primo Taglio, Waterfront Bistro, Signature / October 2018 / Store Brands



Top Women in Store Brands

Café, Debi Lily, Open Nature, Signature Reserve and O Organics lines. They are achievements, for sure, but Cota is also forging ahead, according to White. “Nancy’s primary responsibilities are to provide leadership in continuous, incremental and game-changing product innovation and renovation for our portfolio of Own Brands products,” White says. “She oversees the strategy and concepts behind the development of new brands or product platforms from idea through launch.” When asked her biggest accomplishment, Cota laughs. “I’ve survived,” she says, noting her lengthy tenure has endured many corporate changes. For instance, Cota was with Safeway when Albertsons acquired the retailer in 2014. Seriously, though, Cota has made a tremendous impact on the industry. “I feel like I have left a little legacy in many of the products in our stores,” she says. “It’s always nice to feel like you contributed.” Cota is also a mentor. “She is always focused on training, coaching and developing her teams,” White says. “Many individuals that have worked for Nancy have taken on larger roles both internally and externally.” Cota has always believed it’s about the team. She feels that if she can help make someone better, then everyone will benefit. “We are a team, and we all support each other,” she says. “Certainly, I wouldn’t be able to have accomplishments if it weren’t for all the great people I work with. I never lose sight of that.”

KIMBERLY GIRYLUK/ LASSONDE PAPPAS AND CO. Kimberly Giryluk will soon retire after 30 years with Lassonde Pappas and Co. Giryluk, vice president of research and development for the Carney Point, N.J.-based private brand beverage manufacturer, is going out on top by receiving one of WISE’s most prestigious honors. “What I’ve loved about the company and have been able to say for so long is that it’s never boring, and that there are always challenges and opportunities to be innovative,” Giryluk says. “This is what has kept me engaged.” Giryluk, of course, has helped drive that innovation.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

In nominating Giryluk for the award, Lassonde Pappas and Co.’s Director of Research and Development Lauren Smith points out that Giryluk led her team, of which Smith is a member, in developing and launching 124 new products in the last year. Giryluk is also responsible for developing an astounding 3,500 formulas in her career at Lassonde Pappas and Co. “If you’ve drank a private label beverage in your lifetime, then you have been touched by Kim Giryluk, which is truly why we are nominating her for this award,” Smith says. Working with the company’s senior leadership, Giryluk oversees and supervises all development and innovation efforts by the company. She is responsible for creating an environment that fosters innovation, leading employees to work collaboratively with all teams to execute projects that generate cost savings and quality improvements to products and manufacturing processes, Smith says. When Giryluk first began at Lassonde Pappas and Co., she says private brands was a “me-too business.” Now retailers want companies to show them potential products that are innovative and interesting, she states. “And that has been really fun,” she adds. “We have worked with some awesome customers that are all willing to think outside the box with us.” When Giryluk came to Lassonde Pappas and Co., it was a small company known as Clement Pappas (Lassonde Industries purchased the company in 2011). Giryluk was the first product development manager the company hired, beginning her career there as a special project manager. Smith says Giryluk is credited “with building the backbone of the private label cranberry sauce manufacturing supply in the U.S. through formula optimization and processing improvements,” which led to Lassonde Pappas becoming the No. 1 producer of cranberry sauce in the country. “It has been amazing to watch the company grow over the years,” Giryluk says. Smith says Giryluk has also been a leader in formula cost optimization. Giryluk has saved the company more than $50 million in formulation savings throughout her career. “It has been a challenge, but that’s what our team of scientists enjoys most about it,” Giryluk says. “How can we come up with a premium product and still make it a cost-effective product that consumers are willing to purchase? We are also constantly looking at how we can offer the best value for our customers.” Outside of work, Giryluk is passionate about helping others. A mother of three, she has also fostered many children and is even working to be a certified counselor to help others.


to our own Nancy Cota! 2018 Top Women in Store Brands Lifetime Achievement Award Presented by Store Brands magazine and Women Impacting Store Brands Excellence (WISE)

The Top Women in Store Brands program was created to provide well deserved recognition for women executives who bring a passion for store brands to their day-to-day activities. Nancy’s commitment to driving Own Brands sales, developing new product innovation has delivered superior results for Albertsons Companies. Her passion and commitment to our organization has positively impacted our work culture and overall business goals.


Top Women in Store Brands

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT/ QUALITY ASSURANCE AWARD LEAH L AM BRAKIS/SIMMONS PET FO O D It’s no wonder that Leah Lambrakis is so passionate about her job as vice president of research and development and innovation for Simmons Pet Food. She loves animals and is the proud owner of two dogs that she calls family members. Her love of animals fuels the love she has for her career, and is why Lambrakis is being celebrated with this award. “Leah has exemplified the leadership required in research and development,” says Rick Shields, Ph.D, the senior vice president for the Siloam Springs, Ark.based company’s U.S. private brands, who nominated Lambrakis for the award. Lambrakis has spent her entire career in animal nutrition. Her first job was at the Toronto Zoo, where she worked as a nutrition research assistant. At Simmons Pet Food, Lambrakis leads a team of 25 scientists across the company’s wet, dry and treat divisions. She has personally created and formulated more than 1,000 pet food products during her 19-year career at Simmons Pet Food. Today, her team manages a portfolio of more than 3,500 pet food and pet treats products. “It’s very exciting because it’s always changing,” Lambrakis says of the pet food industry. “We are always learning and discovering.” Lambrakis has embraced her role because she empathizes with today’s pet owners, who treat their furry companions as family. “We are pet parents,” she says. “And the industry has had to react and respond to that. It’s not just about the food we are feeding [our pets] … there is an emotional connection.” Shields notes that Lambrakis’ team was instrumental in launching new dry pet food formulas that contain inclusions and real meat as the first ingredient. “Leah works to assist all departments with the complicated process of formulating pet food while meeting the


Store Brands / October 2018 /

high demands of our customers,” Shields adds. Lambrakis says private brands are flourishing in the pet food industry. Store brand pet food products aren’t just national brand equivalents, she says, but unique offerings representing individual retailers’ commitment to the category. “We are extremely proud to be part of that growth and innovation,” she says. “When a retailer comes to us and says [it] wants to make [its] brand unique and special, we want to be part of that journey and development. I can tell you my team gets extremely motivated and excited when it has a new formula to create — a new brand to design and define based on the store brand’s philosophy.” There have been challenges. Recently, Lambrakis and her team had to reformulate about 850 individual formulas in 18 months to comply with new pet food nutrition regulations. “Leading that effort and coordinating that effort was very challenging,” Lambrakis says. “But I couldn’t have done it without my team. I am where I am because of my team. They are the people who make it happen.”

INNOVATION AWARD ROBIN VANDENABEELE/FRESH THYME FARMERS MARKET Robin VanDenabeele is a student of innovation. The director of private label for Downers Grove, Ill.-based Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is constantly looking for inspiration to create new and different products. The results of her studies are evident in Fresh Thyme Farmers Market’s private brand catalogue, where innovative products abound from organic kombucha to double crème brie to plant-based cleaners. From May 2017 to April 2018, VanDenabeele successfully launched 769 private brand items. With the help of Private Label Category Manager Shane Sherrell, she has grown the retailer’s dry grocery private brand market share to 26.5 percent since joining the company in 2015.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of the merchant leaders, category managers and especially the executive leadership team at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market,” VanDenabeele says. She calls the private brands industry “an open book,” citing an array of opportunities. “If you work hard and ask the right questions, you can find almost any item that will meet or exceed quality and consistency against most national brand equivalents,” she says. While innovation can come from a trend, it also must be pursued. VanDenabeele calls this the “hunt for innovation.” “Keep in mind that suppliers are not knocking the doors down in the private label world to get new business. You need to hustle to make this happen,” VanDenabeele says, noting she and her team attend various trade shows across the country to find “the next best item with the next best supplier.” VanDenabeele received two nominations in the category for her award from Ivan Manfredi, CEO of Italian supplier Emilia Foods Srl, and from Simon Cutts, director of grocery for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. “Robin has created a well-known store brand with an outstanding selection,” Manfredi says. Cutts says Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, under VanDenabeele’s leadership, has been able to quickly and profitably convert customers to the retailer’s own brand and attract new customers to its private brand categories. “Fresh Thyme is growing and our brand is growing because of the work of the merchant teams and the private brands team working together,” Cutt says. “Robin has helped foster the open collaboration that every company strives for within a private brands program.” VanDenabeele says the retailer, which operates 74 stores in the Midwest, offers private brand products with taste profiles that surpass those of the mainstream brands but at a lower price and with a promise of high-quality and pure and simple ingredients. “I want our customers to be excited about connecting with the brand,” she says. VanDenabeele’s zeal for private brands is surely driving that consumer connection. “From an enrichment standpoint, I love learning about emerging industry trends, meeting with new and existing suppliers, and learning about ingredients,” she says. What new innovations might we soon see next from VanDenabeele and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market? “That’s a secret, but I can tell you we are not slowing down and the private label team will continue to bring innovation to the industry,” she says. / October 2018 / Store Brands



Top Women in Store Brands

OPERATIONS AWARD STEPH ANIE HARRIS/ FOOD M ARKE TING INSTITUTE While she is honored to be named one of this year’s Top Women in Store Brands, Stephanie Harris, the chief regulatory officer and legal counsel for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) says the reward is a reminder that she is fortunate enough to work in the “wonderful and unique” world of private brands. “The private brand industry has seen a significant boost in its presence over the past few years, which has also provided me with new opportunities to help companies understand the regulatory requirements associated with expanding their operations,” says Harris, who has spent four years with FMI, an Arlington, Va.-based trade association representing the retail food industry. “Private brand manufacturers often don’t have the same budgets as the national brands, so every regulatory burden that I can help mitigate for our members will make a meaningful difference in their operations.” Harris’ primary responsibilities at FMI include drafting and submitting comments on federal proposed rules facing the food retail industry, interfacing with federal administration officials on behalf of FMI and its members, and educating FMI’s membership about new regulatory requirements, compliance and implementation. “Stephanie regularly meets with federal and state government officials and stresses the impact of regulations on private brand businesses,” says Doug Baker, FMI’s vice president of private brands and technology, who nominated Harris for the award. “These meetings are critical to the growth and development of the private brands industry. Our industry wouldn’t be able to flourish without Stephanie’s ability to explain the impact of regulations on the private brands industry to officials clearly.” Harris says she always wanted to work in the food industry, especially food law. “I work in an industry that provides safe and


Store Brands / October 2018 /

affordable food to people every day — utilizing new forms of technology, experimenting in new types of retail environments and surrounded by hard-working people,” Harris says. FMI member companies operate nearly 33,000 retail food stores and 12,000 pharmacies. Its membership includes food retail venues from across the spectrum. Part of Harris’ job is to educate members on the regulatory requirements of regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act, update them on the Nutrition Facts Label and how to implement new disclosure standards for foods containing bioengineered ingredients. “For most regulatory changes, FMI has been involved with both the early legislative stages as well as the rule-making process with the agencies, so I often try to provide context and rationale about why an agency is making certain regulatory changes to help our members better understand both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the regulation,” Harris says. While Harris works in the legal end in of the industry, she’s as “foodie” as a foodie can get. “I’d say it’s safe to say that food drives me, especially in the context of the complex supply chain and ecosystem that gets food to the grocery shelves every day,” she says. “It’s really pretty amazing.”

SALES AWARD KASEY SHEFFER/RETAIL BUSINESS SERVICES, AHOLD DELHAIZE USA When the parent companies for Ahold USA and Delhaize America merged, Kasey Sheffer was charged with analyzing several private brand lines so they could transition seamlessly within the two retail groups’ grocery operations, which include Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Martin’s, Food Lion, Hannaford and Peapod. It was a challenging and demanding assignment, to say the least. But according to Juan De Paoli, the senior vice president of private brands for Retail Business Services, a services company created from the merger to drive synergies and provide services for Ahold Delhaize USA’s grocery brands, Sheffer was the

epitome of grace under pressure in completing the task. It’s a reason that Sheffer, director of private brands product management for Retail Business Services, is being honored with this award. “In perfectly executing this immense project, Kasey displayed astounding leadership abilities and skill,” says De Paoli, who nominated Sheffer for the award. “Under Kasey’s leadership, the private brands team met ambitious goals.” Sheffer, who is based in Retail Business Services’ Carlisle, Pa., office, says her role allows her to balance analytics with creativity, a task she has embraced. “It’s about understanding what consumers are looking for and [discovering] their unmet needs,” she says. “It’s about having the opportunity to serve them in that white space and then being able to see that come to life through A to Z.” De Paoli also cites Sheffer’s ability to drive innovation, which Sheffer often thinks about away from her office. For instance, when Sheffer shops for her family at the local grocery store, she becomes a student of her profession — searching for items that don’t exist that consumers might need. “If there is something I need, other consumers might

need it as well,” she says. “When I think about innovation in the space of private brands, it connects back to making sure we are applying that level of new thinking to how we are running the business side.” Sheffer says being named one of the Top Women in Store Brands is “an eye-opening experience.” “It makes me more mindful of how powerful an impact a supportive manager can be,” she says. “For the first time in my career, it helped me realize that I’m impacting others, even if in a small way. I just hope that the impact I’m making is parallel to how I attempt to approach my work, which is with competitive grit but also with camaraderie. I really think that winning together is a lot of fun. De Paoli is thankful to have Sheffer on his team. “She is recognized across the industry for her knowledge and steadfast commitment to expanding the private brand scope,” he says. That commitment emanates from the private brands industry, Sheffer says. “I don’t know if there are any other industries where you have the soup-to-nuts ability to influence like the way you can in private brands,” she says. “That has been really inspiring to me.” / October 2018 / Store Brands



Top Women in Store Brands Knapp looks back on her big move to Austin. Her kids were grown, and she wanted to pursue the bucketlist item on her list: working at Whole Foods Market. “I moved down on a wing and a prayer to find a new journey,” Knapp says. “I’m glad I did.”

SUPPLY CHAIN/ PROCUREMENT AWARD HEIDI KNAPP/WHOLE FOODS MARK ET Heidi Knapp moved from Keene, N.H., to Austin, Texas, in 2007 with a desire to work for Austin-based Whole Foods Market. Fast-forward 11 years, and it’s evident that the retailer is glad that Knapp moved to town and came knocking on its door for employment. Knapp is the senior logistics analyst for Whole Foods Market’s exclusive brands, comprised of its 365 Everyday Value line and Whole Foods Market items. When Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon last year, Knapp was presented with the challenge of quickly incorporating its exclusive brands onto According to Chris Wood, senior coordinator of logistics for Whole Foods Market’s exclusive brands, Knapp pulled off the assignment without a hitch. It’s why Wood nominated Knapp and why she was selected for this honor. “Heidi’s role of providing key product information for the exclusive brands was instrumental and made the launch of over 1,600 items onto possible, almost overnight,” Wood says. “Her composure, drive and attention to the many details to execute this accomplishment was an inspiration to others, particularly given the incredibly quick timeline.” Knapp was eager for the opportunity to lead the project. “I looked at it as a great way to get our items out to even more consumers” she says. “I was ecstatic.” Wood says Knapp is “organized, flexible, creative and always dependable” in helping work through any challenges. Knapp says she never felt overwhelmed about the project. “I look at big projects like this as fun and challenging,” she adds. “I take pride in ownership of anything that is handed to me. I want to do a really good job.” While the project was “a whirlwind,” things have settled down some for Knapp. “This past summer, we focused on tightening up processes and procedures,” she says.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

MARKETING/ MERCHANDISING AWARD CRYSTAL BUTLER/ENCORE ASSOCIATE S Crystal Butler made a quick and positive impression shortly after she joined Encore Associates as director of product and category development in 2016. San Ramon, Calif.-based Encore Associates is a sales and marketing firm that specializes in store brand product development and the launch of new items into the grocery industry. In mid-2017, Butler was given the opportunity to direct the general merchandise seasonal business for a major grocery retailer. “Crystal immediately saw the potential of developing a cohesive private label category and product strategy, and developed an own brands strategy across more than 10 unique categories,” says Linda Nordgren, CEO and president of Encore Associates, who nominated Butler for the award. “She created own brand seasonal icons and developed designs for over 300 products.” Butler also formed a global team of domestic and international suppliers of the products, which ranged from dining and drink ware, plush items, table clothes, kitchen towels and novel accessories for each season as well as the holidays. She traveled to Asia twice to meet with factory representatives to ensure the retailer’s own brand collection met all quality and design expectations consistently. “Her inspirational leadership defined the own brands product strategy, kept the team on focus and delivered a stunning, innovative new growth business,” Nordgren says. “Crystal’s leadership was the foundation for the team’s achievement.” For Butler, it was all in a day’s work. And while




Top Women in Store Brands

thankful for the recognition, she credits her team for getting the project done. “I might be the driving force of this, but it really takes the support of all the other teams we have to work with to make this happen,” Butler says. “I’m very proud of [the honor] for sure, but it definitely couldn’t happen without teamwork. I want to share it with everybody.” Butler, who has been in the grocery industry for 26 years and in private brands for 11 years, says her favorite part of her job is “starting each season fresh by creating concepts, researching trends and working with retailers and factories to bring those creative ideas to life through product development, packaging, supply chain, retail operations and merchandising.” Butler also likes the challenge of teaming with retailers to help them differentiate. “[Retailers] really have a great opportunity to differentiate if they have quality own brand items,” she says. Butler puts the onus on herself to stay up with and ahead of trends to help retailers differentiate. She has embraced what private brands have become and will become. “Crystal’s passion for developing quality, ontrend products is coupled with her desire to create an exceptional customer experience — an experience of joyful discovery each new season at the grocery aisle,” Nordgren says.

HUMAN RESOURCES/ INFORMATION SERVICES AWARD VICKI SMITH/TREEHOUSE FOODS When Vicki Smith began her work life at 12 years old — she cleaned her neighbors’ homes — she adopted a hard work ethic and a customer-first attitude. “Every single job I did was customer-focused,” Smith says. “I always wanted to make other people’s lives easier.” Today, Smith is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) business architect of finance for Oak Brook, Ill.-based TreeHouse Foods, a food processing company that produces private brand packaged foods. She is still all about making lives easier — in this case

Congratulations, Heidi! Winner of the Women Impacting Store Brand Excellence (WISE) Supply Chain Procurement Award Heidi Knapp is the Senior Logistics Analyst for Whole Foods Market’s Exclusive Brands Team, encompassing 365 Everyday Value and Whole Foods Market brands. Her award celebrates her exceptional success supporting the launch of Whole Foods Market private-label products onto


Store Brands / October 2018 /

her co-workers at TreeHouse Foods. It’s why Smith is being honored with this award. Last year, the company announced its TreeHouse 2020 restructuring program, a multi-year plan to fully integrate the business and reduce its cost structure in order to invest in market-differentiated capabilities to serve the evolving needs of its customers that are focused on and committed to their own brands. As part of that program, Smith was charged with kicking off and leading a transformational initiative for the finance and accounting department called S/4HANA Central Finance, a new and cutting-edge SAP (systems, applications and products) application that harmonizes, streamlines and centralizes near realtime financial information from all of the company’s ERP systems. “It is a central hub for information and reporting,” says Alexis Ward, the ERP information technology director of SAP at TreeHouse Foods, who nominated Smith for the award. “With central finance, TreeHouse Foods will have the right data in the right place at the right time. This will enable us to tighten our controls, spend more time doing high-value work and enhance our employees’ experience. Vicki has been instrumental since the start of this project. Her knowledge and expertise is helping make sure this

project is done correct and runs smoothly.” Smith is not bragging when she says she has “a unique skill set.” She does. It helps that she loves what she does. “I understand the business and the processes, and I can design and implement technical solutions for people,” she says. “I embraced the challenge.” Ward says Smith, who has spent six years with TreeHouse Foods, has partnered with the company’s finance and accounting teams to build solutions that are reliable and accurate. “She is an expert in SAP finance and making it work in the store brands industry,” Ward says. Smith, who previously worked for two branded companies, says she enjoys the store brands industry because it offers “true entrepreneurship.” “I just like the newness of it all,” she says. “It’s always changing.” Ward says Smith is one of the key reasons TreeHouse Foods continues to have successful information technology implementations. “Her work ethic, drive for success and partnership with the business has helped give the finance organization at TreeHouse Foods the tools to run our business productively,” Ward says. SB / October 2018 / Store Brands




SMARTS Whether a comfort food or vehicle for creative experimentation, fresh-prepared soup can captivate customers and differentiate grocery retailers from the competition B Y C AR O LYN SCH IERHORN

With autumn’s crisp arrival, customers increasingly crave soup. But it’s no longer a can of Campbell’s or national brand equivalent that fills these fall food fantasies. According to market researcher Mintel’s June 2018 report on U.S. soup, center-store sales within this $6.9-billion category have been stagnant for years, with condensed wet soup declining 2 percent and ready-to-heat wet soup increasing only 0.3 percent since 2013. But Mintel forecasts that the category overall will increase 9 percent in sales during the next five years. Fresh-prepared and refrigerated prepared soup are poised for significant growth, say experts, while soup kits may have potential as well. Beyond having a couple of soup wells in a salad bar or hot bar, a number of grocery retailers dazzle with dozens of delicious fresh-made offerings that rotate daily and seasonally. Not every retailer should take the plunge, however, cautions Ryan Powell, vice president of merchandising for Dallas-based Symphony RetailAI. Foraying into freshprepared soups requires a big commitment and needs to be data-driven, he says. “The first challenge is the infrastructure,” Powell observes. “Can you do it in-house or not?” This depends on such factors as store layout, kitchen capacity and the retailer’s existing methodology for developing, making and merchandising fresh-prepared items.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

CATERING TO LOCAL CUSTOMERS Dayton, Ohio-based Dorothy Lane Market (DLM) has become a destination for fresh soup, thanks largely to Culinary Director Carrie Walters and her team at the retailer’s three stores. Although the gourmet grocery chain sold prepared soup before Walters joined the company some 20 years ago, she has expanded and modernized the program, developing many new recipes over the years that she refines in her test kitchen. Today, DLM offers more than 30 fresh-prepared soups, which are made from scratch and classified by season. The retailer serves fresh cold soups such as corn gazpacho, pineapple jalapeño and strawberry watermelon gazpacho only during the summer months, for example, while certain classic hot soups, including chicken noodle and tomato bisque, are available to customers year-round. Each DLM store has a self-serve soup area in the deli department with five or six wells and a seafood soup area with two to four wells. Prepared fresh each morning, most of these soups rotate daily as well as seasonally, with 70 percent of customers consuming them in the retailer’s café seating areas, Walters says. Because the three stores — in Dayton’s Washington Park neighborhood and the suburbs of Oakwood and Springboro, Ohio — have demographically distinct clienteles, they offer different selections in their soup bars. “Our Oakwood clientele tends to be older,” Walters notes. “We always have people in that store who want

FOCUS ON FRESH know their customers, especially in the grocerant space, where food waste can be tremendous. To be successful in this venue, according to Powell, supermarkets need to analyze their customer data to determine whether their shoppers at each store gravitate toward the new and different or the familiar, what flavors customers are purchasing across all food categories, and who their stores’ competitors are. With prepared soups in particular, the competition ranges from convenience stores to fast-casual restaurants such as Panera Bread. “Supermarket grocerants need to understand both their own comfort with cutting-edge trends as well as the comfort of their customer base,” adds Maeve Webster, president of Menu Matters in Arlington, Vt. “Not all trends will be relevant to every retailer.”

BETTER-FOR-YOU COMFORT FOOD Chef Carrie Walters has made Dorothy Lane Market a Dayton-area destination for fresh-prepared soups.

With four stores in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa, Calif.headquartered Oliver’s Market captures the area’s


chicken soup in the hot bar every day, and they tend to be very vocal if it’s not there. Our Washington Square store is middle-of-the-road, while our Springboro clientele is much more adventuresome.” Although customers can find a variety of soup flavors in all of DLM’s hot bars, the most exotic ethnic offerings are served more frequently in Springboro and Washington Square than in Oakwood. “We have an albondigas soup, which is a tomato-based Mexican meatball soup with zucchini,” Walters shares, describing a few of her favorites. “We make our own chorizo in house, so the meatballs are half chorizo and half ground beef. “We also have an avocado pozole soup that’s really good; it has hominy in it and pork shoulder. And we have a couple of Thai soups that have really taken off, including a chicken soup with straw mushrooms in it and cilantro.” Besides serving soup in its hot bars, Dorothy Lane Market has an extensive assortment of fresh-prepared refrigerated soups at each store as well as a handful of frozen fresh-prepared soup choices. “All of the seasonal flavors are usually available at any given time in any of our stores in the cold soup case,” Walters says, noting that DLM will happily heat up a refrigerated soup for a customer who wants to consume it in the store. “We freeze our top five or six soups for the customer who has to have that chicken soup or that tomato bisque soup if it’s not in our hot bar, and we’re sold out of it in the cold case,” she adds. DLM’s complex algorithm for providing fresh soup that shoppers want illustrates how critical it is for retailers to

TIPS FOR SOUP SUCCESS Know your customers. Some people prefer classic over exotic flavors.

Be prepared. Before foraying into the realm of signature prepared soups, make sure you have the staff, space, infrastructure and resources to support the program.

Rotate offerings. Leverage limited-time seasonal selections that showcase fresh and local ingredients.

Don’t overlook cold soups. Spanish gazpacho, Nordic berry and other intriguing cold varieties may entice customers during the summer.

Consider soup kits. Like other meal kits, these would help cross-merchandise recipe components sold throughout the store while facilitating enjoyable and successful cooking experiences at home. / October 2018 / Store Brands


FOCUS ON FRESH penchant for health and wellness with its standout soup program. The retailer offers 38 rotating varieties of freshprepared soup, some of which are seasonal. Each store has a soup bar with four to six wells. “We try to balance out the selections each day, with choices like meat, vegetarian, vegan, cream-based and Oliver’s Fit Friendly soup, which is 400 calories or less per serving,” says Roxanne Abruzzo-Backman, the food service coordinator for Oliver’s Market. “We are also moving more toward organic and non-GMO selections.” Oliver’s tries to use California-produced ingredients in its prepared soups. “Our customers love the fact that our soups are made in-house and with quality local or seasonal ingredients wherever possible, and they appreciate the range of offerings,” Abruzzo-Backman says. “All of our stores have indoor and outdoor seating for our customers to sit and enjoy their food.” Similar to Dorothy Lane Market, Oliver’s offers a larger selection of refrigerated prepared soups in each store’s “cold Grab ’n Go wall,” in addition to the hot bar options. “We have a regular clientele coming in week after week for their favorites like clam chowder, tomato basil, chicken noodle and cream of crimini mushroom, to name just a few,” Abruzzo-Backman adds.

U.S. Alliance Paper has one request when it welcomes visitors to Island Booth H 2105 at the PLMA Private Label Trade Show on November 12th and 13th in Chicago: close your eyes and feel the difference. “Household paper products, without wrappers or packaging, are difficult to evaluate visually,” says Steve Saraf, Vice President of Sales. “You really need to touch and feel the product to appreciate the difference various paper grades make. We manufacture across the spectrum, from ultra-premium TAD, to FSC® Certified, 100% recycled and traditional grades, so our customers have all the options and flexibility in developing their paper programs.” U.S. Alliance Paper works closely with its private label customers to help develop the optimal paper program for their specific situations and consumers. The company helps to identify opportunities for private label alternatives to top-selling SKUs in different quality tiers and product segments. Its computerized ‘flex manufacturing’ lines also allow for a wide range of product customization to help its customers execute multi-tiered shelving and pricing strategies for both their brand-loyal and valueconscious consumer - from “supersized” rolls, custom sizes and bundles, to pre-packed displays and end caps. For customers who may not have the volume requirements for their own private label program, the company will present its “control brands” at the show. Ultra-Premium Azure paper towels and bath tissue are the

Cream of crimini mushroom is one of the most popular fresh-prepared soups at Oliver’s Market.

most recent entry. Ready-to-shelve in eye-catching packaging, Azure offers customers the opportunity to enhance their margins with value products in premium quality tiers. The Daisy line of kitchen towels, bath tissue, napkins and facial tissues was developed for the discount and dollar store segment; the Delicate Touch line offers consumer-tested packaging for grocery, club and mass; and the specialty line of Earth First products is manufactured with 100% recycled fiber and 80% post-consumer content, without chlorine bleaching. “We’re excited to showcase our breadth of manufacturing capabilities as well as our control brands at the PLMA Show,” adds Saraf. “Our sweet spot is our ability to flexibly develop household paper products in the best configuration, price point and quality tier for our customers. But what really sets us apart is 100% reliability. From over a million square feet of manufacturing and warehousing facilities in New York and Arizona, we deliver to our private label customers anywhere in the country – exactly when and where they need it.”


Store Brands / October 2018 /

FOCUS ON FRESH SHOWCASING FRESH INGREDIENTS To promote fresh-prepared soups, supermarkets should tout their offerings’ better-for-you attributes, their soothing and uplifting characteristics as a comfort food, and the limitedtime availability of seasonal varieties, Webster advises. “Soups are so versatile that they can incorporate virtually any produce or herbs in-season,” she says. “That includes making seasonal variations of traditional soups to keep those soups interesting and relevant.” In marketing and merchandising its prepared soups, Dorothy Lane Market stresses they are made with fresh ingredients that customers can purchase in its stores, Walters notes. “Retailers should also consider how best to use their soup program to promote other areas of the store, from fresh to center aisle,” Webster adds. “Bundling and crosspromotions to drive sales overall that incorporate — or springboard off of their soups — can be highly effective if the soup program is strong.” To encourage customers to try new grocerant- or deli-prepared soups, sampling stations in other areas of the store are important. But what’s even better is just letting customers taste whatever soups are available in the hot bar, Walters suggests. At DLM, the deli hot bar is right by a sandwich station, so an associate is available to help customers who want to

sample an unfamiliar soup before ladling it into a container. Grocery retailers with successful prepared soup programs might also want to consider offering soup kits for certain recipes, so customers can make the soups at home. Consumers increasingly desire experiences, Powell notes. “I think people are moving away from wanting just stuff plopped on plate for them,” he says. “People are more aware of ingredients. And I think if you took a fresh-prepared soup and put it next to a soup kit, you’d be satisfying two totally different customers.” Webster agrees that own brand soup kits could be successful if developed strategically. “If the store has the labor and resources available, a soup kit would be a great extension,” she says. “Consumers want the option to make things at home but need assistance to make that experience easier and time-friendly.” In addition to soup ingredients and recipes, the kits could include suggestions that direct customers to other parts of the store, such as recommended bread pairings as well as appetizer, entrée and dessert ideas. “Then the kits could not only serve as a product extension of the soup program,” Webster explains, “but also be a springboard to additional sales and greater interaction with customers.” SB Schierhorn is a freelance writer from Wheaton, Ill.

Put your mind in the Tropics! Subscribe to the iTi Innovation blog for recipes, infographics, and more. / October 2018 / Store Brands





Join us at PLMA Booth F2919

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Exhibits at the Private Label Trade Show increased more than 5 percent last year over the previous year’s event and the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) expects the show to expand even more this November — occupying more than 1 million total square feet and utilizing all available exhibit space at Chicago’s Rosemont Convention Center, where the show is held. The show is set for Nov. 11-13 and will feature more than 2,800 exhibit booths from private brand manufacturers spanning myriad product sectors’ The following pages highlight some of the companies exhibiting at the show.



★★★ / October 2018 / Store Brands



American Nutrition Inc.

Catania Oils

American Nutrition is a custom manufacturer of consumables with the formulation expertise, marketplace intelligence and turnkey production capabilities to serve leading retailers and pet food brand owners looking for best-in-class products, facilities and support. This year at the Private Label Trade Show, we will feature our Nature’s Source super premium pet food.

Catania Oils is a leading provider of conventional, nonGMO and organic edible oils for retail, foodservice and ingredient divisions. We are a trusted private label supplier. Stop by our booth to see our full portfolio of products and our latest and greatest oils in bag-in-box packaging.

American Nutrition Inc. 888-897-3477 Booth #F8819


Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers’ Cooperative Citadelle is a Canadian producers’ cooperative that develops and markets only the highest-quality pure maple, honey and cranberry products on a global scale. Private label offerings for maple syrup, honey, dried cranberries and juice will be the main feature at this year’s show. Citadelle Maple Syrup Producers’ Cooperative 819-362-3241 Show Booth #1404F

★★★ 50

Store Brands / October 2018 /

Catania Oils 978-772-7900 Booth #F2211


Cibaria International Inc. Cibaria has all the ingredients for your success. Our extra virgin olive oils, imported balsamic vinegar, organic, Non-GMO Project Verified product lines, specialty oils, infused oils, seed oils, blended oils, sustainably produced coconut and palm oils are ready to add a rich heritage to a growing category. We also offer glass, PET and bulk packaging. Cibaria International Inc. 951-823-8490 Booth #F3219


Club Coffee LP

Colordyne Technologies

Since 1906, Club Coffee has built a reputation for quality and innovation. With over 500 custom label products and over 160 branded products, we are a major roaster, contract manufacturer and distributor of packaged coffees that Canadians buy. Club Coffee meets requirements for Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade and Kosher certifications, and is a leader in developing sustainable coffee solutions.

Colordyne Technologies is a leading manufacturer of fast, high-resolution digital print solutions, providing full-color label and tag on-demand inkjet printers for many applications. We offer a range of platforms — from benchtop industrial color printers to complete, in-line finishing production presses — demonstrating Colordyne’s scalability of the industry’s most versatile products.

Club Coffee LP 416-675-1300 Booth #F2559

Colordyne Technologies 262-784-1932





Rice Rusks

Smoothie Melts


Mini Rice Cakes

1.76 oz (50g)

0.21oz (5.9g)

1.48 oz (42g)

1.4 oz (40g)




Mini Wafers

Single Vegetable Combo (Fruits & Vegetables) Protein 4.5 oz (128mL)

6.5 oz (185g)

1.48 oz (42g)

1.4 oz (40g)

Toddler Formula Stage 3 24 oz (680g)




DelGrosso Foods Inc.

Furlani’s Food Corp.

Global Tissue Group Inc.

DelGrosso Foods Inc. is the oldest major family-owned producer of pasta sauce in the U.S., with 30-plus years of private label experience. We specialize in the very best mainstream, organic and ultrapremium pasta sauces and salsas. Visit booth F1513 or www. for a complete overview of our company.

Furlani’s is North America’s leading manufacturer of valueadded bread. Our specialties are garlic bread, garlic toast, biscuits and breadsticks. We are the largest supplier of frozen grocery private label programs and the “side-bread experts” to the foodservice trade.

Through excellence in product delivery to innovative manufacturing processes, Global Tissue Group (GTG) has become a leading converter of household paper products. GTG is one of the few converters to provide three levels of paper quality: standard, premium and ultra premium. With all the success in innovation, GTG is a low-cost provider of high-quality store brand paper products for all retail channels.

DelGrosso Foods Inc. 814-684-5880 Booth #F1513


Global Tissue Group Inc. 631-419-1300 Booth #H1506


Great Lakes Cheese Co. Inc.

Italian Rose Garlic Products LLC

For 60 years, Great Lakes Cheese has been committed to our customers’ success by investing in people, technology and facilities, and practicing sustainable, ethical sourcing processes to deliver awardwinning, natural and processed bulk, shredded, sliced and snack cheeses.

Italian Rose is the leading producer of salsa in North America. Five of the top 10 selling retail SKUs are made by us — we make the salsa America eats. Production capabilities on both coasts mean we deliver it faster and fresher. We offer a variety of packaging styles, sizes and formulations that span fresh, natural and organic.

Great Lakes Cheese Co. Inc. 440-834-2500 Booth #F9510

★★★ 52

Furlani’s Food Corp. 877-317-7146 Booth #3719

Store Brands / October 2018 /

Italian Rose Garlic Products LLC 800-338-8899 Booth #F8010



J&J Snack Foods Corp. J&J Snack Foods Corp. is a leader and innovator in the snack food industry for over 45 years. We are excited to showcase our wide range of soft pretzels, stuffed sandwiches and extensive bakery product lines at this year’s Private Label Trade Show. Visit us at booth F1317 to taste the latest offers from J&J Snack Foods Corp. J&J Snack Foods Corp. 888-JJSNACK Booth #F1317


Joseph Campione Inc. Our father used only the finest, freshest ingredients and baked with pride, establishing our company in 1960. We continue that tradition today, offering the same consistent, superior homemade taste in our endless varieties of frozen garlic breads, cheese breads, USDA pizza toast, garlic & cheese Texas toast varieties, breadsticks, cheese sticks, specialty stuffed sticks and specialty breads. Joseph Campione Inc. 414-761-8944 Booth #3720


Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

Mondiv Division of Lassonde Specialties

Consumers are prioritizing sustainability. Is your brand making a difference? With a variety of certified and origin coffees, and the infinitely recyclable steel can, MZB can become “Your Brand’s” solution. Let us help you encourage social responsibility, increase trade up to premium coffee, and establish your coffee aisle as a destination experience.

Mondiv Division of Lassonde Specialties is a leading manufacturer of private label pasta sauces, dips, tapenades, broths and ready-to-drink coffee. Mondiv Division of Lassonde Specialties 450-979-0717 Booth #F910

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA 757-215-7300 Booth #7405



BOOTH BOOTH#F6610 #F6610 / October 2018 / Store Brands


Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods LLC At Nature’s Touch, we’re driven by a sole passion — to bring tasty, high-quality frozen fruits to our private label partners and consumers. Meet us and try our fruits at our smoothie bar. Nature’s Touch Frozen Foods LLC

514-737-7790 Booth #F2722


Overhill Farms Inc.

Pacific Coast Producers

Overhill Farms is a custom manufacturer of high-quality prepared frozen foods, serving customers in the branded retail, private label and foodservice sectors. We provide a one-stop solution that offers new product development or precise replication of existing recipes as well as manufacturing and packaging. Our product lines include poultry, meat, fish and several other offerings.

PCP is a grower-owner owned, agricultural cooperative located in California. Our facilities are within miles of our fields, ensuring our products are packed at the peak of freshness. We are a private brand supplier with a product line consisting of canned fruits, canned tomatoes, 4-ounce plastic bowls, salsa, organic fruits, tomatoes and maraschino cherries.

Overhill Farms Inc. 800-859-6406 Booth #F2215

Pacific Coast Producers 209-367-6278 Booth #F2500



Request Foods is your co-packing partner. With 600,000 sq. ft. of cooking, blending, freezing and packing capacity, we are your one-stop resource for R&D and processing. Our team of top culinary chefs creates custom entrées, side dishes, heat ‘n’ serve portions and a whole lot more—every meal in every size. Give your retail, club store or national brand the consistent quality of Request Foods. We Make Your Brand ... Better.

3460 John F. Donnelly Dr. • Holland, Michigan 49424 • 616.786.0900 •


Store Brands / October 2018 /

Buying our honey means buying from American beekeepers.


Buying from Sioux Honey Association Co-op means keeping 270+ American beekeepers in business. Like Darrell Rufer, one of our independent beekeepers who has helped put pure, U.S.A. honey on store shelves for generations. We’re proud of our honey; you will be, too. Buy what’s best for your private label. Buy American. Visit booth F2507 at the Private Label Trade Show.

Private Brands Consortium Inc.

Phillips Gourmet Mushrooms

Private Brands Consortium is a leading private label supplier servicing the fast-growing organic and conventional baby food and snacks segments in North America. New to our portfolio this year is a complete line of organic and conventional crackers, including a variety of rice and premium wafer crackers. PBC also offers organic and conventional broths, dairy alternatives and nutritional shakes in many different formats and sizes.

Phillips Gourmet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Phillips Mushroom Farms, is the largest producer of value-added specialty mushroom products in the country. Located in Kennett Square, Pa., the mushroom capital of the world, Phillips Gourmet specializes in the development of proprietary mushroom formulations and supplies market-leading mushroom products.

Private Brands Consortium Inc.

Phillips Gourmet Mushrooms 610-925-0520 Booth #F6610

514-768-4122 Booth #F2146 x 2247 ISL

★★★ GLC_PLMA_OctNov_18_PRINT.pdf


★★★ 1


Store Brands / October 2018 /

8:42 AM

Red Gold Four generations of the Reichart family have been producing premium-quality tomato products for over 75 years. It began in 1942 when the family began producing tomato products for the soldiers overseas. Since then, Red Gold has become the largest privately owned tomato processor in the nation. It partners with family farms to sustainably produce premiumquality canned tomatoes, ketchup, sauces, salsas and juices. Red Gold

765-557-5500, Ext. 1127 Booth #F7410


Request Foods Inc.

Riverbend Foods LLC

Seneca Foods Corp.

Request Foods is a leading co-packer of frozen prepared entrees, side dishes and specialty items, delivering better solutions to retail, club stores and foodservice customers. Request Foods has two stateof-the-art production facilities located in Holland, Mich. Both facilities are GFSI-certified.

Riverbend Foods is a manufacturer of private label and contract manufactured canned, Tetra Recart and jarred soups, broths, gravies, sauces, infant feeding products as well as human-grade pet food. Whether you’re seeking solutions to your brand of baby food, soup or human-grade pet food, Riverbend Foods has innovative solutions to meet your needs.

Seneca Foods ensures U.S. farm-fresh goodness through its 26 facilities located in prime American growing regions. A leading global provider of packaged fruits and vegetables, Seneca’s flexible packaging solutions meet evolving consumer needs, from traditional cans and frozen foods to convenient pouches and plastic cups. Organic options are also available.

Request Foods Inc. 616-786-0900 Booth #1638


Riverbend Foods LLC 412-442-0920 Booth #F9125


Seneca Foods Corp. 608-757-6000 Booth #200



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Snak King Corp.

Superior Pack Group

The Fremont Co.

Southern California-based Snak King has made innovative snack foods since 1978. From day one to today, the mission has been to listen to our customers and consistently service their needs. We are a reliable brand with a commitment to customer satisfaction and excellence.

Superior Pack Group is a fullservice, single-source contract packaging company that helps companies get their package to market with the quickest turnaround, by offering turnkey solutions from concept to completion.

The Fremont Co. has been manufacturing ketchup for over 90 years. We are one of North America’s leading private brand ketchup producers and the only one focused exclusively on our partners’ brands and business. We invite you to partner with “The Ketchup Experts” for store brand ketchup that turns shoppers into lifelong customers.

Snak King Corp. 626-363-7711 Booth #F2416



Store Brands / October 2018 /

Superior Pack Group 845-534-1015 Booth #F1552


The Fremont Co. 419-334-8995 Booth #F2308


Trade Show Schedule Saturday, Nov. 10

Monday, Nov. 12

11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PLMA executive education program

7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Registration open/ Rosemont Convention Center 8 to 9 a.m. Opening breakfast/Hyatt Grand Ballroom • Keynote speaker: Fred Morganthall, former president of Harris Teeter 9 a.m.xxxxxx to 6 p.m. Trade show floor open/ Rosemont Convention Center 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PLMA’s Idea Supermarket and New Product Expo/Rosemont Convention Center

Sunday, Nov. 11

U.S. Alliance Paper Inc. U.S. Alliance Paper, one of the largest manufacturers of private label household paper products, will feature its Ultra Premium Azure and other control brands, giving retailers who may not have the volume for their own private label program the opportunity to offer their consumers high-quality value products. U.S. Alliance Paper Inc. 631-254-3030 Booth #H2105 Island


9 a.m. to 2 p.m. PLMA executive education program 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Trade show registration open/Rosemont Convention Center 2 to 4 p.m. Opening seminars /Hyatt Grand Ballroom • Presentation I — Jim Hertel, senior vice president of Inmar Analytics, “Today’s Marketplace: Retailing Fundamentals Under Pressure” • Presentation II — Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, “E-commerce and Digital Marketing: What to Know and What to Do” • Presentation III — Garett Chau, senior vice president of professional services for Nielsen, “Understanding U.S. Private Label” 7 to 8 p.m. Opening night reception/ Hyatt Grand Ballroom


Tuesday, Nov. 13 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration open/ Rosemont Convention Center 8 to 9 a.m. Retail trends breakfast/Hyatt Grand Ballroom • Neil Stern, senior partner of McMillanDoolittle, “The Next Big Thing? Online-2-Offline” 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Trade show floor open/ Rosemont Convention Center 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. PLMA’s Idea Supermarket and New Product Expo/Rosemont Convention Center

★★★ / October 2018 / Store Brands


prepared Delivering the nuanced insights and proprietary shopper research needed to thrive in today’s CPG and Retail industries.



THINKING OUTSIDE THE CART Gaining shopper feedback is critical to improving the in-store experience. Here’s how to do it LAUREN R. HARTMAN

Customers have always had a voice, but today it is louder than ever, thanks to social media, smartphones and online reviews/comments courtesy of the internet. That’s good, because successful stores want customer feedback that will give them an advantage. But retailers with successful store brand programs don’t wait to hear from customers. 61

Store Brands / August 2018 /

They actively solicit, track and measure feedback to help ensure they deliver product quality, service and an experience that keeps their customers coming back. Asking in so many words if customers are happy tells a store it is doing a good job and, more importantly, what it can do better. To stay ahead of the competition, it’s vital for /October 2018 / Store Brands


TOTAL STORE retailers to ask customers what they want, how they want it and what they don’t want, because shoppers have more choices than ever to spend their time and money. “As the management gurus have said, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,’” notes Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert based in St. Louis. “Meaning, for retailers to move the needle positively or understand their stores’ key performance indicators (KPIs), they have to know what their numbers are.” KPIs measure store results and performance via shopper survey statistics. The numbers demonstrates how effectively a company achieves key objectives and targets. Good retailers know when they are doing a good job, and more importantly, when they aren’t, Hyken points out. “They take advantage of all data, good and bad, for opportunities to take customer experiences to the highest level possible,” Hyken says.


Surveying customers who buy private brand products can be performed with some quick, numbers-based objective Net Promoter Score questions, Hyken suggests. A Net Promoter Score index gauges customer loyalty. Often correlated with revenue growth, the score ranges from -100 to 100, measuring customer willingness to recommend products or services to others. It is also used to rate overall customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Open-ended follow-ups can tell stores why they were given certain ratings and can help to determine what stores can do to get higher numbers to improve their customer focus. Retailers can also use the NPS to identify what percentage of a customer’s shopping cart contents are coming from their stores versus a competitor’s store, and what they are doing to drive store visits, Hyken adds. Stores might ask shoppers questions in person, online or by phone about how they rate store brand product quality on a scale of one to five, and why they bought private brands over national brands, Hyken says. “If the response is, it tastes exactly the same as the national brand and costs less, you’re getting both objective and subjective answers,” he adds. “A follow-up question would be: Is there one thing that would make doing business with us better?” A short survey issued at checkout or by email, phone, text message or mobile tracking system can include subjective and objective questions about what customers buy; if and how employees interacted with them at checkout; a store’s cleanliness, attractiveness and lighting; the fairness of a store’s return policy; if customers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that asks their opinions; was the staff friendly, helpful and knowledgeable; and how likely they are to recommend the store to others. Asking customers general questions about store brand products can be effective, Hyken says. Store staff may ask if a customer considered buying X product over a brand name. If the customer replies no, the customer should be asked why. If the customer answers yes, a survey system can lead you down a different path based on the answer, Hyken says. “The answer could earn more business from existing customers and steal others away from the competition.” KNOWLEDGE IS POWER Obtaining feedback from core customers is essential, says Matt Sargent, senior vice president of Magid, a consumer-focused business strategist and research firm in Minneapolis. A main source of store revenue, core customers repeatedly purchase a store’s products or services and are often considered the target market. The store “understands their behavior well” through market research or past experience.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

TOTAL STORE “Customers expect a high level of service from retailers, and the ability to measure how they’re engaging with customers is an essential benchmark in this process,” Sargent says. Customer feedback is also key to building strong brands, he adds, so retailers who know their customers will build better brands. “Retailers with better brands will be able to differentiate themselves” Sargent says. Customer feedback is especially key to building, improving and differentiating store brands to best meet customer needs, Sargent notes. “Private brands are no longer national brand copies, they’re about differentiation,” he adds. For private brands to evolve, retailers must understand how consumers perceive the role the brands have in specific categories and industries, Sargent says. Retailers need to learn what draws customers to specific brands, customer perspectives of existing private and national brands, and what would be the attributes of customers’ ideal brands. Store brands are the single-largest differentiator a retailer can use and control, Sargent says. “Two players at the top of their private label game are Publix and Costco; their private label lines are the best because they back the brands strongly with quality first, followed by value,” he says. “[For instance], Costco’s Kirkland Signature wine series has generated extremely strong ratings from wine connoisseurs.” CUSTOMER SERVICE COUNTS Private brands can also meet customer needs with quality service, says Jan Fura, vice president of client success for Solutions for Retail Brands Inc., a private brand grocery retail specialist in Nottingham, England, and Fort Worth, Texas. To find out how their private brands rate with shoppers and “align with consumers is to use highly effective feedback loops that track opinions and allow grocers to react quickly and effectively,” Fura says. Fura defines feedback loops as two-way dialogues or exchanges retailers and customers can have via channels (phone or online questions, in-store surveys) that are convenient for the shopper to use. “A successful loop starts with capturing quality feedback that can be properly analyzed,” he says. The level of customer service can heavily influence feedback scores. If a consumer has a positive experience, he may look for other opportunities to support the brand even further, and tell others to buy into the brand, Fura notes. Fura remembers a customer seeking help on a large chair order from two separate wholesale retailer call centers: One, for general inquiries, accessed by a phone number on the shopper’s retail member card; and the other a private brand specialist number listed on the product packaging. “When the customer had no luck at the store on buying large volumes of chairs for an upcoming wedding,

he called the member card line, but still found no help,” Fura says. “But the private brand specialist number acted, and within two hours a product team spoke with the chair manufacturer, which arranged for a shipment of chairs to the consumer’s home.” Care and attention to private brand feedback must exceed the level for national brands, Fura says. “Retailers should view such feedback … as an essential ingredient for a great brand offering,” he adds. Sargent agrees. “Customers expect retailers to support their own brands more intensely. This data can be obtained through disciplined research maintained over time by tracking behaviors and attitudes.” Shop-alongs, quantitative and qualitative surveys, focus groups and secret shoppers who may work for the retailer but pose as shoppers to gather data can mine rich details for concept development, Sargent says, and offer feedback on a retailer’s store brands. Hyken suggests surveying customers within 24 hours while their store visit is still fresh on their minds, and indicating how long the survey will take to prevent survey fatigue. Reward clubs for customers who provide regular feedback are beneficial, and loyalty coupons issued at checkout or via mobile devices on most-purchased items are a simple recognition of customer feedback. They go a long way in adding value, Fura says. “Coupons keep them coming back for more.” Real-time shopper data can be “incredibly helpful” in terms of what is and isn’t selling, Sargent notes. “Costco and Publix take it to another level by developing ongoing feedback mechanisms that reveal satisfaction levels with their brands and lifestyle trends of their customers,” he says. “This allows Costco and Publix to understand what they did well in the past and what should be done differently in the future,” he says. MINING THE DATA Data can be used by customer service teams and quality, food safety and legal compliance departments to resolve issues, teach and reward employees and develop private brand products, Fura adds. “Departments should manage feedback that needs follow-up action, which includes consulting with the consumer if needed,” he notes. Feedback is like a nugget of gold that can keep private brands ahead of competitors, Fura says. “The best private brands engage customers through staff members, online shopping and data analysis to ensure the information is captured, recorded and properly shared as quickly as possible with all stakeholders,” he adds. SB /October 2018 / Store Brands




DO provide store brand products with visibility in the online marketplace.

From single cup to ready-to-drink (RTD) to cold brew to nitro brew, the coffee and tea category has been no slouch when it comes to value-added innovations. Pursuing those innovations could hold the key to increasing private brand’s share of the riches. “There is still a lot of potential within all segments and products within RTD private label, because on the whole private label is still underdeveloped from a share perspective within the RTD space,” says Kirby J. Harris, chief commercial officer for Berner Food & Beverage LLC in Dakota, Ill. Three segments are largely responsible for coffee category growth: single-cup coffee, refrigerated RTD coffee and cappuccino/iced coffee, according to consumer market research provider Packaged Facts’ August report, “U.S. Beverage Market Outlook, 2018.” It’s important to ensure that own brand products truly drive incremental value to the category, bringing in new users who might not have par-

ticipated before, Harris adds. “For example, some consumers might not be willing to pay at the branded item level for products, whereas private label can offer a similar type product for those consumers through driving value and bringing them into the category.” This is true for both national brand equivalent coffee products as well as differentiated store brand products in all aspects of flavor, packaging and value to the consumer, Harris says. When it comes to creating differentiation, retailers are focusing on purposeful innovation to build on consumer loyalty with products that are more premium and products that create value and meaningful consumer experiences, says Solange Ackrill, vice president of marketing and corporate strategy for Club Coffee LP in Toronto. Getting the products to market at the right time, when trends are experiencing scale and profitability, is also critical, Ackrill adds.

DON’T forget to create differentiation with products that are more premium and products that create value.


Store Brands / October 2018 /




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Single-Cup Coffee

“Keys to growth will expand beyond the products into an ever-evolving omnichannel, go-tomarket strategy,” she notes. “From channel differentiation to loyalty programs to product search optimization and artificial intelligence, leverage consumer data to stay connected, relevant and ahead of the pack.” The beverage marketplace is crowded, so private brand retailers must have products that are of equal or preferably better quality than national brands, without trying to be something to all consumer groups, says John Harper Crandall, vice president of sales for tea provider Amelia Bay in Johns Creek, Ga. “Simple, clean-label quality is critical to a beverage’s success,” he adds. Coffee category sales increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9 percent between 2012 and 2017, with volume growth higher than dollar growth, according to Packaged Facts, which projects retail dollar sales of coffee (including RTD coffee) to exceed $18 billion in 2022, increasing by a CAGR of 5.9 percent between 2017 and 2022. Innovations, including RTD cold-brew coffee, are driving growth, especially among millenni-


NuZee, Inc. is a San Diego based co-packer that is revolutionizing the way single serve coffee is enjoyed in America. uZee is the only level 2 SQF certified single serve pour over coffee co-packer in the US. The single serve pourover has much less of an impact on the environment compared to a single serve cup and delivers a much better tasting cup of coffee at less of an expense to the consumer. Currently NuZee is white labeling and co-packing for several of the nations leading brands and the pour-over is expected to reach home, grocery, office, hotel, food service, restaurant, & convenience store channels nationwide by the end of 2019. This is the next revolution in the coffee category and is anticipated to outgrow single cup sales due to the lower cost to consumers, convenience, and no investment required by the consumer.


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Store Brands / October 2018 /


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Ready-to-Drink Tea/Coffee Private Brands

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als, who remain connoisseurs of gourmet, smaller batch, local, niche and artisanal coffees, the report says. Total retail dollar sales of tea had a CAGR of 4.5 percent between 2012 and 2017. Retail sales totaled $7.8 billion in 2017, up almost 4 percent compared to the previous year, according to Packaged Facts, which projects retail dollar sales of tea (including RTD) to reach $9.5 billion in 2022. RTD tea (including refrigerated) dominates the category, accounting for about 75 percent of sales, and is expected to drive category growth, the report notes. WHAT’S TRENDING? Clean and clear labeling have topped the list of food and beverage trends for several years, with no signs of slowing down, Crandall says. “And highSource: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm @iriworldwide. Total U.S. multi-outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the latest 52 weeks ending July 15, 2018.

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Store Brands / October 2018 /

CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE COFFEE AND TEA quality ingredients are here to stay. Consumers are just not as willing to be swayed by low price anymore. Appearance and taste are critical for repeat sales,” he adds. Consumers are becoming more aware of the ingredients and contents of products, Harris says. Trends he sees gaining strength include cold brew, nitro, organic, better-for-you offerings, beverages with unique functional capabilities and seasonal flavors. On the horizon, Harris sees dairy-alternative offerings within RTD as having potential to hit big at retail. It will be necessary, Harris says, to accommodate changing consumer needs as the category grows and develops. “Healthy hydration” is another important trend, one that brewed tea can fulfill, Crandall adds. Consumers recognize tea’s healthy properties, and are switching to tea from carbonated soft drinks, Packaged Facts points out. Retailers need to deliver on key trends consumers are looking for, such as premium, convenient, sustainable and healthy products with eco-friendly packaging, Ackrill advises, noting that giving store

brand products visibility in the online marketplace could be “a game-changer” for the category. EXCLUSIVITY AND INNOVATION Most retailers want to own and develop unique formulas to be able to market across their total own brand category as unique versus other retailers, Harris says. The same is true for innovation, especially around functional better-for-you product offerings and seasonal limited-time offerings within the category. Millennials in particular are focused on innovation and the functional attributes of products, while baby boomers focus more on flavor and value, Harris observes. Make use of research and development to create private brand products customized to goals, Crandall advises retailers. “Also, as consumer preferences evolve and change … keep on trend with the latest flavors and ingredients … to keep loyal and new customers happy,” Crandall adds. SB Cvetan is a freelance writer from Barrington, Ill. / October 2018 / Store Brands




DO remember to be exciting, different, innovative and trendy when it comes to flavors and textures of confections.

Sure they still buy sweets on impulse in order to treat themselves, but consumers are thinking a lot more about the candy they choose. Informed, label-savvy shoppers pose some challenges for the category, according to consumer market researcher Packaged Facts in its February report, “U.S. Food Market Outlook, 2018.” They are thinking more about eating healthfully, the impact of sugar consumption on rising rates of diabetes and childhood obesity and the sustainability of cocoa farming, Packaged Facts reports. Additionally, shifts in shopping behavior such as self-checkout and online purchasing threaten to decrease the impulse purchases that drive a high level of chocolate sales. On the bright side, the chocolate market is “dynamic” … with a strong pace of innovation, an influx of creative new players and a steady flow of new products that engage consumers,” the report says. Because consumers love candy and consider it an accessible luxury, this creates the opportunity to trade them up to premium products, the report adds.

DON’T forget to encourage consumers to refine their tastes with upscale origins, inclusions and formats.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

Focus on creating unique and novel flavors and textures; healthier, more nutritious products that taste great; and premium confections (the fastest-growing segment) to boost the category, Packaged Facts advises. “We continue to see substantial strength in the category, as well as in trends [toward] health and wellness. Consumers want to eat as healthfully as possible, but also want to indulge themselves,” notes Barry Rosenbaum, president of Nassau Candy in Hicksville, N.Y. MAKE IT SPECIAL The focus for growth in the private brand confectionery sector continues to be on innovation, says Christopher Ratliff, vice president of sales and marketing for Seattle Gourmet Foods in Tukwila, Wash. “Oftentimes, it’s as simple as taking an established top seller and looking for ways to refresh the product and make it new again,” he says. To maintain mass appeal and repeat business, innovation has to walk the fine line of bringing something new to the market without straying too far from the products and flavor profiles that have the most familiarity and popularity, Ratliff adds. Another path to growth lies in encouraging consumers to refine their tastes and trade up to more sophisticated products by training them to taste and appreciate chocolate flavors, origins, inclusions and formats, says Giovanni Sala, marketing director for Agostoni Chocolate, headquartered in Lecco, Italy, with offices in Los Angeles. Single-origin, organic chocolate with high levels of cocoa solids and sustainable certifications appeal to consumers, Sala says. Focus on packaging and product formats that are easily consumed on-the-go with reasonable calorie counts and be mindful of affordable price points, Sala advises. Consumer preferences are evolving and retailers are responding, says Darin Ciavarella, cocoa and chocolate retail channel lead for Cargill in Minneapolis. Consumers are choosing unique flavors, colors and forms of chocolate that are more premium, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of dark chocolate and rising interest in cacao content, Ciavorella adds. PUSH THE BETTER-FOR-YOU BUTTON There’s a marriage between what has been identified as healthy with chocolate, Rosenbaum notes, adding that nutmeat, ginger and banana inclusions are hot trends.

CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE CANDY AND CHOCOLATE It’s equally important to remove ingredients that have been identified as not as healthy, like palm oil, and avoiding artificial flavors and colors as much as possible, Rosenbaum says. Use better-for-you callouts on confections, such as non-GMO, no artificial colors or flavors, vegan, fair trade, lower sugar and no trans fats, advises Janet Sconza Angers, director of marketing for Sconza Candy in Oakdale, Calif. “Healthier options and snackable products have been driving category growth, and I expect this will continue to be a primary direction in the next year as well,” Angers says. “Consumers are more focused on healthy choices and must fit smaller meals or snacks into a busy lifestyle.” Ratliff says the better-for-you approach and clean label continues to be at the forefront of discussions in the chocolate and candy segment. “I’m almost hesitant to call this a trend, as it’s more of a paradigm shift,” he adds. “The elimination of artificial colors and flavors, along with simplified ingredients, are the easiest ways to take an indulgence and still show the modern consumer changes that meet their changing core values. Also, the move to smaller, single-serve pack sizes continues to be prevalent as consumers focus on getting their treats, but controlling the portions that they enjoy on a day-to-day basis.” Consumers pay attention to labels, even in the sweet space, Ciavarella agrees. And demand for sustainably sourced cocoa and chocolate is also rising, Ciavarella adds, driven by a growing number of mindful consumers who are interested in knowing how their food is sourced and prefer to purchase products that align with their ethical values. Organic, sustainable and fair business models are not just “nice to have” for companies, but are now a requirement and a standard requested by more and more American consumers, Sala says. Corporate transparency will be a key factor in retaining brand awareness, he adds. “Lastly, a specific attention to sugar values in confectionary products is well-spread in northern Europe and [is expected to] become more evident [in the U.S.] in the next few years,” Sala says. “The main issue is to reduce sugar consumption and to identify some different ingredients to be used, [such as] stevia, coconut sugar or malthitol.”

creativity in the chocolate category the norm. Nothing seems to be off limits. We anticipate retailers will look to integrate some of the most beloved flavor trends into their offerings.” Innovation and exclusivity are really the two key ways for a private brand to separate itself from the mainstream brands that consumers expect to see when they pay a visit to the candy aisle,” Ratliff says. “Because there is such an overwhelming level of familiarity with legacy brands found in every class of trade, the only way for a private brand to stand out is to be something that is new and different,” he adds. “And the exclusivity factor is an important method to help establish both differentiation and loyalty to the private brands on the shelf.” Private brands are experiencing great success with consumers who are less loyal to national brands, Angers notes. “The days of offering only me-too products in this arena are over,” she adds. “Consumers expect store brand confectionery offerings to include items that are unique, exciting and on-trend. Store brand buyers are focused on these areas with manufacturing partners.” SB

GET CREATIVE “We believe flavor innovation will continue to be highly important in the coming years,” Ciavarella says. “From creative twists on classics to globally inspired exotic flavors, segments such as bean to bar chocolate have paved the way in making flavor

Cvetan is a freelance writer from Barrington, Ill.

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Source: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm @iriworldwide. Total U.S. multi-outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the latest 52 weeks ending July 15, 2018. / October 2018 / Store Brands




DO inform and remind consumers of the nutritional benefits of canned products while highlighting other attributes, such as convenience, shelf-life advantages and the role in decreasing food waste.

Canned fruit and vegetable merchandisers are facing a powerful foe in the fresh produce sector. With an 84 percent market share, fresh dominates fruit and vegetable sales. It is followed by canned at 10 percent and frozen with 6 percent, reports market researcher Nielsen. Almost all households purchase fresh produce every week, and while canned and frozen vegetables are bought by more than 90 percent of households, consumers typically purchase them less than once a month, Nielsen states. Research from market researcher Mintel found that consumers more strongly associate “health” with fresh fruit, and that canned and other options “fall considerably short of fresh when it comes to taste, natural and authentic.” Mintel projects sales of canned and jarred fruit to reach $1.8 billion in 2018, but forecasts that the segment will lose 15 percent of revenues by 2023, suggesting that “consumers may not be entirely uninterested in the concepts, but potentially unmotivated by options currently available.” Further impacting canned activity is an overall slowdown in fruit purchases as total fruit revenues grew 1.7 percent in 2017, the smallest category increase since 2013, Mintel states in its June “Fruit US” report. To help generate additional canned fruit activity, merchandisers can position products as healthy and spotlight the absence of genetically modified organisms (GMO), Mintel states, noting that 31

percent of consumers are interested in fruit with a non-GMO claim and that “comparatively few such claims have been found among private label fruit products in recent years.” TELL THE TRUTH Shoppers’ misguided perceptions of canned fruits and vegetables are the greatest factors limiting sales, says Jon Hauptman, senior director of analytics, at Inmar, a Long Grove, Ill.-based retailer, manufacturer and supplier consulting firm. “Many shoppers incorrectly believe canned fruits and vegetables are not as nutritious as fresh products and contain preservatives that are not good for their families, both of which are not true,” he states. “Additionally, the canned fruit and vegetable aisle isn’t typically a very interesting or exciting draw for shoppers.” To overcome such obstacles, retailers should inform and remind consumers of the nutritional benefits of canned products while highlighting other attributes, such as convenience (available any time of the year), shelf-life advantages and the role in decreasing food waste (much less is discarded during the canning process than during the farm-to-market-to-table journey for fresh fruits and vegetables), Hauptman notes. Retailers, he adds, can differentiate their brands by featuring the locations and/or farmers who grow the products on labels; by improving the quality of graphics and pictures on labels; by making cans easier to open;

Canned/Bottled Peaches Private Brands

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Source: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm @iriworldwide. Total U.S. multi-outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the latest 52 weeks ending July 15, 2018.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

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CATEGORY INTELLIGENCE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES by offering options across all private brand tiers; and by creating value-added flavors to complement existing “plain” products. ADD VIGOR TO VEGGIES Newer, more attractive options can help invigorate the canned vegetable sector, a category in which sales slowdowns and possible declines are likely, Mintel states. While fresh loose vegetables, the category’s largest segment, is strongly benefitting from consumers’ interest in fresh and local food selections, “frozen and canned options are much more associated with being processed, which in a category that consumers strongly associ-


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Store Brands / October 2018 /

ate with health, is proving a significant hurdle for brands,” Mintel says in its May “Vegetables US” report. Yet, because just 9 percent of consumers eat the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s daily recommended amount of vegetables, “brands that can help move vegetables into the center of the plate can also play a role in helping consumers to meet these goals,” Mintel notes. “Product development or positioning that guides consumers to new and more uses for vegetables, perhaps as an alternative for rice or pasta, may breathe new life into the category and struggling segments,” Mintel adds. Positioning canned vegetables in recipes also can boost activity, says Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, a Libertyville, Ill.-based retail consultancy. “That is already occurring with ethnic cuisines,” he states. Growing private brand revenues, meanwhile, will necessitate a greater retailer focus on new merchandising techniques, which could include changes to packaging and labeling, Wisner says. “Retailers get tired thinking about what they can do with more mature and older categories,” he states. “But with their own brands, they need to rethink, reimagine and reinvent, which could also include offering multipacks, smaller sizes and easy-open cans.” Along with canned options, frozen fruit already is attractive to many priceand convenience-oriented shoppers. Mintel research found that 20 percent of fruit buyers associate frozen with being inexpensive, compared to 18 percent for fresh and 33 percent for canned; 58 percent associate frozen with convenience, compared to 54 percent for canned and 48 percent for fresh; 36 percent view frozen fruit as being healthy, compared to 80 percent for fresh and 16 percent for canned; and 30 percent associate frozen as being tasty, versus 71 percent for fresh and 28 percent for canned. McGinley states that consumers have increasingly turned to the frozenfood aisle for vegetables and fruits. SB

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KEEN FOR GREEN A shopper focus on environmentally friendly selections is adding opportunity to a lackadaisical paper products sector. While demand is relatively steady for such staples as paper towels, toilet paper and facial tissues, a large base of “green” shoppers is seeking more eco-oriented options and creating greater sales possibilities for retailers and suppliers, analysts note. “Younger consumers are a key consumer base for green offerings, including those made with sustainable materials,” states market researcher Mintel in its January “Household Paper Products US” report. “Younger generations stand out as being more likely to purchase products with recycled, tree-free or recyclable materials, revealing their interest in such options.” To limit young users from gravitating toward cloth products, Mintel says merchandisers should emphasize the convenience and hygienic advantages

DO offer paper products in novel colors and patterns to further distinguish them as store brands.

DON’T forget to highlight environmental and functional factors.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

of disposable paper products, while also ensuring that eco-friendly items are competitive in terms of performance and value. Indeed, market researcher IBISWorld states that “the perceived environmental friendliness of a product is becoming an increasingly important driver of sales and a source of competitive advantage.” More marketers, meanwhile, are emphasizing such traits as waste reduction, use of recycled fiber inputs, moderate use of chemical bleaching and adherence to environmentally friendly protocols during production, IBISWorld states in its April “Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing in the US” report. Merchandisers also are stressing functionality by highlighting absorbency, strength, softness, comfort and texture as quality and durability remain key purchase triggers, IBISWorld notes. A MYSTIFYING MARKET The wide-ranging amount of paper products and claims, however, can negatively impact sales by creating a “confusing shopping experience,” says Mark Pitts, executive director of printingwriting, pulp and tissue for the Washington-based American Forest & Paper Association. In addition, environmental concerns about consumption of single-use paper products and a lack of knowledge about the hygiene and health benefits of paper tissue are limiting purchases, he states, adding, however, that “highlighting the sustainability of tissue items can help to counter concerns about excessive use of these products.” The listing of third-party certification seals on packages, meanwhile, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Rainforest Alliance and Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), can make products more attractive to environmentally conscious shoppers, Pitts says. Consumers, he adds, are seeking greater transparency in product content and sourcing, and also are evaluating packaging when making purchase decisions, with the size and shape of items becoming important elements. Along with environmental and functional factors, product pricing and household income

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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 July 15, 2018.

also are affecting purchase decisions. Store brands, for instance, are especially popular during periods of “soft economic conditions,” while there is often less overall demand for paper products as incomes grow, IBISWorld states, noting that increases in away-from-home dining and travel result in fewer paper good purchases for home use. Changing shopper dining habits, meanwhile, is impacting sales of paper tableware, reports market researcher Euromonitor International. Many younger consumers, for instance, are gravitating toward takeaway or other meals prepared outside the home, which they eat directly out of containers or disposable dinnerware, Euromonitor notes. In addition, the growing popularity of wet wipes is making it more difficult to expand sales of paper towels, Euromonitor states, and IBISWorld forecasts a slight decrease in paper towel demand over the next few years as environmentally conscious shoppers switch to cloth towels or rags. Evolving production technologies, however, are likely to benefit store brands by enabling suppliers to produce paper products that are “vastly superior” to previous private brand selections and which match or exceed the quality of national brands, says Jim Wisner, president of Wisner Marketing Group, a Libertyville, Ill.-based retail consultancy. Wisner Marketing Group research found that product quality is the biggest differentiator between national and store brand penetration. The availability of unique designs, meanwhile, such as paper towels in novel colors and patterns, can further distinguish store brands, Wisner states, adding that private brand promotions should match the levels of the national brands as “store brands sell very well when on sale. People will stock up.” 78

Store Brands / October 2018 /

PENCHANT FOR PRICE Indeed, private brands are benefitting from being a lower-cost alternative, Wisner says, and “the significance of the savings is readily apparent to consumers. The pricing motivation in paper products is stronger than in most other categories because they are high-frequency purchases.” About 50 percent of users report buying their paper products on sale and more than one-third report using coupons, Mintel states. That cost focus is leading major brands to regularly offer promotions to compete with the growing array of premium private brand products, Mintel notes, adding that private brands account for 25 percent of the market. “Growth in private label, paired with the prevalence of sales and coupons, reflects an extremely cost-competitive environment across product segments,” Mintel reports. “The usage of sales and coupons varies little with household income, suggesting that consumers seek the best deal, regardless of demographics. This represents a challenge to market growth as consumers have come to expect savings, which has led to thin profit margins.” Attaching extra benefits to paper selections, however, can create additional revenue possibilities and enable merchandisers to further differentiate their products, Mintel says, noting that such elements can include moisturizing, antibacterial and vapor-infused attributes for tissues. “Major suppliers have not significantly expanded their repertoire of products with these qualities for several years, suggesting opportunities for more robust innovations, which may then extend to other segments, such as paper towels and wipes,” Mintel reports. “Younger adults and Hispanics both overindex for interest in tissues with added benefits, which could drive spending.” Because older generations have historically been among the most invested in the household paper category by using a range of products — while younger generations are more likely to stick to a few staple items — the aging and decline of those shopper groups is a key merchandising challenge, Mintel adds. In addition, Wisner says there is a limit to paper product growth as the category “is still going to be driven disproportionately by population and even more so in the number of households. The good thing is that households are growing faster overall than population because of lower family sizes and every household needs paper products.” SB Mitchell is a freelance writer from Wilmette, Ill.


BARKING WITH INNOVATION There’s a lot going on in the pet food category, and it pays to be bold and innovative to compete, declares consumer market research provider Packaged Facts in its August report, “U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2018-2019.” Private brand’s standing in the pet food and supplies market is strong, with nearly $3 billion in 2017 sales (about three-fifths of that for pet food), market researcher Packaged Facts estimates, based on data from market researcher Nielsen and the Private Label Manufacturers Association. But shoppers are rapidly migrating online, and internet sales are putting brick-and-mortar retailers “on a critical offensive,” the report warns. Nearly $6.8 billion in pet products were sold online in 2017, and Packaged Facts estimates that will double by 2022. Strong online representation, whether by a proprietary direct-selling website, a third-party seller or a combination of the two, will keep retailers in the game, Packaged Facts concludes. In terms of shopper attitudes, a survey of pet owners conducted in January and February by Packaged Facts found that 68 percent agreed (23 percent “strongly” and 45 percent “somewhat”) that pet foods made in the U.S. are generally trustworthy. Only 14 percent said the same about pet foods made in China (6 percent “strongly” agreed and 8 percent “somewhat” agreed). Asked if they would be willing to pay more for pet food products that are healthier for their pets, 75 percent said yes, with 36 percent strongly agreeing and 39 percent somewhat agreeing. Not surprisingly, another Packaged Facts survey found that 90 percent of dog owners (73 percent “strongly”) and 86 percent of cat owners (65 percent “strongly”) consider their pets part of the family. For millennials, pets are “practice” children, while for baby boomers they are “replacement” children, says Bill McKee, vice president of private label sales for Simmons Pet Food in Siloam Springs, Ark. IT’S THE INGREDIENTS “Consumers want foods that not only feed their furry kids, but also offer wellness benefits. Thirty-three percent of pet parents choose pet foods and treats based on ingredients,” says Chris Ruben, chief marketing officer of Eurocan Pet Products in New Hamburg, Ontario. “Retailers are looking for foods with limited, understandable ingredient decks that incorporate as many all-natural ingredients as possible.”

Primarily, consumers seek quality ingredients and ingredient transparency. They want single-sourced meat proteins, U.S. sourcing and single or limited ingredients in their pet food, says Stephen Trachtenberg, president of New England Pet Products in Hudson, N.H. Consumers are trading up to more nutritious and nutrient-dense formulas (typically meat-based with premium ingredients,) giving retailers higher gross profits and dollar sales, says Steve Mills, senior vice president of customer brands and co-manufacturing for American Nutrition in Ogden, Utah. Consumers are also on the lookout for new, exciting and unique treats they can use to motivate and reward their pets, says Scott Jorgensen, private label manager for Carnivore Meat Co. LLC in Green Bay, Wis. TRENDS WITH TRACTION Flexible packaging is “red hot” because it offers convenience, portability, portion control, palatability and above-average profit margins, McKee says, noting that cups and tubs in particular are showing extraordinary growth.

DO offer products with quality ingredients, convenience and transparency.

DON’T forget that 33 percent of pet parents choose pet foods and treats based on ingredients. / October 2018 / Store Brands



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Dry Dog Food

Dry Cat Food

Wet Cat Food

Source: InfoScan Reviews, IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm @iriworldwide. Total U.S. multi-outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar retailers) for the latest 52 weeks ending July 15, 2018.


Store Brands / October 2018 /

Jorgensen sees continued growth in mix-ins and toppers, particularly freeze-dried raw foods that can be added to a pet’s current food for added health benefits. Freeze-dried raw foods, which can be rehydrated with water, broth or other liquids, comprise the fastest-growing category in pet food, Jorgensen says. Mills sees continued interest in more complex and higher-cost formulas with unique ingredients, kibble with inclusions such as fruits and vegetables and kibble with special coatings. Products with functional benefits for aging pets, such as those designed to support hip and joint function or control weight, are also poised for growth, Ruben says. Cannabidiol (CBD), hemp and superfoods are likely to be the next big things in pet food, Ruben adds. “Humans and pets with varying causes of pain and anxiety benefit from these components, and the pet specialty trade has already embraced these products,” he explains. TRENDSETTERS There’s no doubt that millennials are responsible for many of today’s pet food trends, McKee says. “The move to limited-ingredient foods with clear, identifiable ingredients is rooted in their desire for truth and transparency with their own food choices,” he adds. “They are also adventurous with their cuisines, which has led to the use of exotic proteins such as duck and buffalo, and popular inclusions such as pumpkin, kale and pomegranate in pet food and treats.” Millennials desire more transparency, Mills says, and want to know where the product is made, where the ingredients come from, what is the nutrient content, what the information in the Guaranteed Analysis panel means and how it is calculated. They are also focused on certifications, such as Certified Humane, Trachtenberg adds. “They want to see the next layer of accountability. They want to hold their suppliers verifiably accountable.” Not only are millennials more apt to choose products that feature all-natural ingredients from trusted sources, they demand transparency in the supply chain and production process, and prefer products, companies and retailers that support a cause they believe in, Ruben says. This on-the-go generation is also attracted to lightweight, easy-to-use and throw-in-thebackpack-and-go foods that their pets enjoy eating and that keep them healthy, Jorgensen notes. McKee also credits millennials for a rise in the growth of the small dog population, “no doubt” due to the their propensity to live in urban environments. SB

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6,000 + The number of years that olives have been cultivated. Olives originated in the Mediterranean and spread throughout Africa, and expanded to the Americas and into Australia in the last 200 years.

$700.8 $276.4 MILLION

Dollar sales of overall olives category in the U.S. Source: IRI (52 weeks ending Jul. 15)

California The only state in the U.S. listed as commercially producing olives. Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Source: California Olive Ranch



Average per-capita consumption of olive oil in the U.S. annually.

37% The amount of the world’s table olives that Spain produces. Source: Mordor Intelligence

Source: California Olive Ranch

“Kalamata olives are the highestselling table olive variety and have a dominant position in world markets.” — Alexander Georgiadis, president of Krinos Foods Canada Agronews Source: Agronews



Store Brands / October 2018 /


Dollar sales of overall private brand olives category in the U.S. Source: IRI (52 weeks ending Jul. 15)


Approximate tons of olives produced every year in California, 90 percent of which are made into extra-virgin olive oil. The remaining 10 percent are processed for table olives. Source: California Olive Ranch


Percentage of olive oil in U.S. that is imported. Source: California Olive Ranch



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