Store Brands-Jan/Feb 2022

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At Seneca, we're still doing things the way we always have - the right way. Think globally, grow locally.


of our produce is grown by AMERICAN FARMERS

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28 Pet Products Report:

Store brands are catering to demand for premium pet products and services while riding a wave of success in the pet care category


Plugging In Private Brands A list of leaders at technology companies giving private brands a digital boost in a variety of ways.


Salute to Excellence PLMA revealed winners in the 2021 Salute to Excellence awards


Editor’s Note


Nonfoods Forum





23 Plant Based:

Experts share how plant-based suppliers can get into private label

Store Brands (ISSN-0190-9851; USPS # 0488-370) is published monthly, except January, May, July, December by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscriptions: One year, $100; two years, $182. One year, Canada $118; two years, $215 One year, foreign $135; two years, $225. One year, digital $70; two year, $130.Single copies $14 US, Canada & foreign $16. Payable in advance with a bank draft drawn on a US bank in US funds.Single copies $20. Foreign, $85. 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 Chicago, IL and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: send all address changes to Store Brands PO Box 3200 Northbrook, IL 60065-3200. Copyright 2020 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. 44

Store Store Brands Brands ● January/February ● January/February 2022 2022 ● ●

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STORE BRAND MADNESS NCAA RULE COULD TIP-OFF MORE PRIVATE LABEL, COLLEGIATE PARTNERSHIPS It’s almost time for my favorite sporting event of the year: the March Madness men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. And thanks to a new rule from the NCAA, local retailers might be able to get further into the action and pair up private brands with star players. To go back last year, in July, the NCAA adopted a policy that enables collegiate athletes for the first time to “benefit from their name, image and likeness,” meaning they can make money from a brand endorsement — think being on the famed Wheaties box, or appearing at a car dealership, or mostly how they wield their powerful social media presences. The rule has been a few years in the making and now that it’s been given the go-ahead, college athletes are already striking deals, especially on a local level, where I think smaller or independent stores and grocery chains have a real opportunity to partner and even promote their private brands. In fact, it seems like a natural fit for a local retailer to partner with a homegrown star as a way to challenge larger national brands who leverage big celebrity endorsements and influencer partnerships. Take for example, Hy-Vee, the chain of 285 stores across eight Midwestern states, who announced its first collegiate athlete partnership with Caitlin Clark, a standout basketball player for the University of Iowa. Clark, a native of West Des Moines, Iowa, where Hy-Vee is headquartered, is a sophomore and an absolute star in her sport, only strengthened by the local ties. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen her play and was an instant fan, surely a March Madness star, future WNBA pick and professional international basketball player. For now, she’s in Iowa, where she’s beloved, as is Hy-Vee. It’s the perfect time for the regional chain to work with Clark — and maybe even get on a box of store brand cereal! Hy-Vee has previously worked with celebrities and athletes on endorsed store brand cereals such as the Field of Dreams Corn Flakes that it did with actor Dwier Brown and the Hy-Vee cereal Cousins CinnaMINN Snaps. I asked Hy-Vee if Clark might find her way onto an own brand cereal, and the company said for now she will be helping with general promotional and social campaigns, including calling out products she loves at Hy-Vee, as well as supporting its KidsFit wellness program. But the idea makes sense. A lot of independent grocers or smaller regional chains may not be in markets with major pro sports teams, and can leverage the loyalty of its collegiate fanbases, putting its popular athletes into store brand licensing deals. Let’s see some store brand March Madness! 6

Store Brands

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An EnsembleIQ Publication 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Publisher, Grocery Group John Schrei (248) 613-8672;

EDITORIAL Editorial Director, Grocery Group Mike Troy (813) 857-6512; Executive Editor Dan Ochwat (773) 992-4416, Associate Editor Zachary Russell (313) 622-1565,

ADVERTISING & SALES National Sales Manager Natalie Filtser (917) 690-3245,

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Creative Director Colette Magliaro Advertising/Production Manager Pat Wisser (973) 607-1322,

LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti (914) 309-3378,


REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Please contact Wright’s Media at or (877)652-5295

CORPORATE OFFICERS Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland Chief Innovation Officer & Managing Director of Path to Purchase Institute Tanner Van Dusen Chief Human Resources Officer Ann Jadown EVP of Operations Derek Esty Senior Vice President, Content Joe Territo

The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

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HEARD AT THE FORUM Soundbites from panelists at the Jan. 19 Store Brands Industry Forum


By Zachary Russell

peakers from CVS, Petco, Sprouts Farmers Market, Walgreens and Walmart joined panels at the Store Brands Industry Forum virtual event on Jan. 19, now available to stream on demand at The focus of the latest forum was on nonfood innovations and trends in select categories, such as pet, pandemic products, personal care and wellness and house and home, along with a keynote address on ways private brands can accelerate in e-commerce. The sessions were moderated by Dan Ochwat, executive editor, Store Brands. Here are some standout quotes from the event’s speakers:

KATHY KIMPLE, chief retail officer, FitForCommerce


“Only 44% of private brand product detail pages include product images. I would argue that’s the one place you really want to ‘up your game’.”

NICK KONAT, chief marketing officer, Petco

HEATHER CORKERY, senior director of store brands, CVS

ON HOUSEHOLD TRENDS… “We’ve seen a lot of trip consolidation across the board. People don’t want to make as many stops as they used to, so we’ve seen more trips to more convenient categories in our format like household and grocery.”

CARLOS CASTELAN founder and managing director, The Navio Group

“We’ve seen trip consolidation, higher basket sizes, and as consumers have been home more, we’ve seen the home goods business overall has taken off.”

ON STRATEGY… “On our site or any of our centers, you’ll see our health philosophy. That anchors not just our own brands, but us as a company. There’s a clarity there, so we’re able to create campaigns for each of those five pillars. Customers see consistency, and then we can start to promote the brands very clearly.”


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ANDREA COLLARO, senior director of health and wellness, owned brands, Walgreens

JOHN TALBOTT, director for education and research in retail at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University


ON THE PANDEMIC… “Sustainable packaging shouldn’t all be compostable. The paper-based bag is highly recyclable, and it keeps the freshness of the coffee. The big eyesore in coffee right now is that so much of the coffee comes in plastic bags that aren’t recyclable and won’t be any time soon.”

KEITH BLACKMER, senior category strategy manager of own brands, Sprouts

“One of the biggest changes from the pandemic is the education of the consumer and their focus on well-being. We’re definitely seeing an expansion of products. New products, yes, but also products that have been in the market for a long time but not necessarily a part of the mainstream.”



DANA PONCZEK, senior product development manager, Walmart

“For the suppliers themselves, the challenge has been being able to get raw materials. In our industry, there’s a shortage of cotton. So you are always doing scenario planning and risk management, and figuring out how you can be flexible. Having a flexible mindset is key, and it’s basically the new normal if you’re a supplier.”

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“There is an opportunity for trusted brands like Walgreens to make an impact with consumers by offering reliable and accessible health. We’ve seen an influx of people who weren’t digitally savvy learn how to shop online during the pandemic, so we’ve seen a big increase in our online sales.”

“Now more than ever, our food, consumables and health and wellness are really at the forefront of delivering items our customers need. It’s an obligation to service that customer in an affordable way.”

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rylock Technologies, Eau Claire, Wis., has been creating hygiene products for private label since 2011 and over that time has seen a lot of shifting consumer trends. With the pandemic, and a growing interest in personal care that’s wearable and better for the earth, the company has been developing products that meet these needs. Store Brands sat down with John Hopkins, VP of sales and marketing at Drylock Technologies, to learn more about trends and shifting consumer needs in hygiene and baby products.

STORE BRANDS: FIRST, TELL ME ABOUT DRYLOCK AND ITS PRIVATE LABEL CAPABILITIES? JOHN HOPKINS: We combine customer focus with product innovation and manufacturing, to provide hygiene products of the future, today. This shows in both our own brand (Presto, Simpli, and Magics) and private label adult incontinence, baby diapers and feminine hygiene products, which include many household brand names. At Drylock, we care about the impact we have on the environment and have committed to calculate, reduce and offset our climate impact by becoming the first factory in the U.S. disposable hygiene industry to have CO2-neutral manufacturing. SB: Baby care, a space you’re in, has seen prices rise on diapers and in products, how has Drylock navigated the pressures in the space? JH: We are fortunate enough to have a global presence that allows us to compete on raw material prices and resources. Our scale enables us to provide cost-competitive pricing, meaning a better value for our partners and their customers. With changes in raw material sourcing, comes a responsi10

Store Brands


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bility to ensure quality is still being upheld. We test new raw materials in our state-of-the-art R&D lab to ensure only the highest quality products make it to our customers. One thing that will continue to separate Drylock from its competitors, is our dedication to providing innovative products. Our committed team of product experts keep a close eye on the market to find and fill unmet needs for our partners in the baby care categories and beyond. SB: In all your wellness products, what are some consumer trends you’re seeing out there? JH: The market is shifting heavily towards thinner, more discreet wearable products. Our dedicated R&D team is constantly evaluating how to provide products that not only perform but provide discreet protection against odors and leakage. Another major trend shift is the preference for natural incontinence products. According to Mintel’s February 2021 report, 59% of consumers express a preference for natural incontinence products. Drylock is proud to be taking huge steps towards more sustainable manufacturing, products, and packaging to provide better products for our partners and the environment.

Additionally, we are seeing growth in 2-in-1 products that help bridge the gap between menstrual and adult incontinence products. These multifluid products allow new consumers to shop for one product that masks incontinence functionality within a feminine hygiene product. SB: It seems like personal care products like in feminine care and baby care are very intimate products that a retailer can leverage its loyalty against in the space, would you agree? JH: We would argue quality is the most important aspect of a retailer’s own brand. According to Mintel’s December 2020 report, mass merchandisers are one of the few retailers benefiting from the changes caused by the pandemic. Store brands have the potential to unlock more than value. Drylock’s mission is to make a better performing product than the national brands at a better price. SB: How does sustainability play a role at Drylock? SD: Drylock Technologies has become the first U.S. facility in the disposable hygiene industry to receive CO2-Neutral certification for carbon-neutral manufacturing. The CO2-Neutral label, a globally recognized certification issued by CO2logic, proves a real and measurable commitment to reduce and offset carbon emissions. Drylock is already meeting consumer demand for products made with natural materials by sourcing cotton-enhanced, green polyethylene, bio-based, and chlorine-free materials for “pure” products. Drylock Technologies has launched Simpli, one of the first natural, ecofriendly incontinence brands in the US. Simpli provides natural, plant-based incontinence protection free of fragrance, lotions, parabens, natural rubber latex, toxic dyes, and chlorine bleaching. Drylock sustainability efforts also extend to packaging by offering recycled, green packaging options, including recycled content, paper, and carbon-neutral bags. SB

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Tippy Toes Kids Body Wash and Shampoo

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. Parents want the best for their kids at a price that won’t break the bank. For safe, effective, two-in-one cleaning, they turn to Tippy Toes Coconut Delight Kids Body Wash and Shampoo. Gentle, paraben, phthalate and dye-free with a clean, pleasant coconut scent, Tippy Toes Kids Body Wash and Shampoo brings a hypoallergenic tear-free clean to bath time. 2 How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category; i.e., what makes it “excellent?” This product helps broaden the selection and elevate the private brand by offering a National Brand Better formulation. As shoppers continue to look for products that are healthy for their babies, this product fills that need by delivering an excellent fragrance that’s free from harmful ingredients. 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? This item has been performing well for Topco members, who supported this launch with marketing materials to reach shoppers in-home, instore, and in-aisle. Tippy Toes Coconut Delight Kids Body Wash and Shampoo continues to gain more distribution as members work on their reset, and we’re more than pleased with the performance of this item such a short time after launch.

Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese Crackers

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. When you’re craving a snack, there’s nothing that can make your taste buds sing like Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese Crackers. Naturally flavored with real cheese and made without certified synthetic colors, these tasty little bite-sized squares bring the perfect cheddar snap and a big, bold crunch. Don’t your taste buds deserve that big cheddar taste they crave? Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese Crackers… soon to be your absolute snack time favorite! 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category; i.e., what makes it “excellent?” Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese crackers elevate the assortment by providing a “real” flavor experience in the cracker aisle. Made with real cheese, Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese crackers deliver an exceptional eating experience without artificial colors or flavoring. The bold, delicious crunch of this flavor favorite has

helped to drive sales growth in the category for our members and serve as a pivotal item to flavor extensions in extra toasty, ridged, white cheddar and more. 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? Not only have Crav’n Flavor Cheddar Cheese crackers helped to support sales and margin in a highly competitive category – they have also helped our members grow own brand penetration throughout the last year. Topco Members also supported this launch with marketing materials to reach shoppers in-home, in-store, and in-aisle.

Crav’n Flavor Hatch Chile Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Bowl

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. A truly unique and flavorful addition to the category, Crav’n Flavor Hatch Chile Huevos Ranchero Breakfast Bowl brings quick ready-to-microwave convenience to the breakfast table together with bold, hatch chile taste and no artificial flavors or certified synthetic colors. Thirteen grams of protein, made with homestyle potatoes, scrambled eggs with a spicy hatch chile salsa, green and red peppers and real cheddar cheese in a convenient microwaveable bowl… it’s the bold restaurant-quality breakfast option deliciously designed to spice up the start of your day! 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category; i.e., what makes it “excellent?” The Crav’n Flavor Hatch Chile Huevos Ranchero breakfast bowl brings bold, restaurant-inspired, and on-trend flavors to the frozen breakfast category, which sets this item apart from the standard flavor offerings traditionally available in the frozen breakfast aisle. It’s comfort food for breakfast… with a spicy, flavorful kick! 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? The entire Crav’n Flavor breakfast bowls program is worth $2.4 MM across Total US Multi Outlet. The Hatch Chile variety represents 18% of the overall total sales.* Topco Member Retailers have promoted the Crav’n Flavor breakfast bowls through single unit pricing, in multiples, and with complementary frozen breakfast items for meal bundling ideas. They have also supported this launch with marketing materials to reach shoppers in-home, in-store, and in-aisle. SB *Source – IRI -Total US - Multi Outlet- Latest 52 Week Pd Ending 12-26-2

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he 2021 Salute to Excellence winners in private label have been named — a selection of more than 80 store brand product winners across total store categories. The awards from the Private Label Manufacturers Association had more than 770 submissions from 52 North American retailers, the highest PLMA cited some standout trends from the list of winners such as products in the eco-friendly household goods category, organic foods, baking products, specialty beverages and self-care products. Some of these winners include:


Store Brands

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Open Nature® Broccoli Crust Chicken & Kale Pizza Team Led By Elizabeth Guthrie Sr. Director, Own Brands Product Management

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. Open Nature’s Broccoli Crust Chicken and Kale Pizza is a gluten-free, vegetable-based pizza crust, made with simple ingredients from nature including white meat chicken, kale, crème fraiche sauce and a blend of cheeses. 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category? Open Nature is a leader of innovation in this space with their broccoli crust pizzas as a better-for-you alternative to traditional flour crusts, and this pizza delivers on quality! 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? Our Open Nature vegetable-based pizzas have been recognized by foodies and have become a fan favorite amongst our customers.

Signature SELECT™ Restaurant Classics Old Fashioned Brown Bread Team Led By Stephanie Chien Director, Own Brands Product Management

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. Consumers can enjoy a restaurant quality bread from the comfort of their own home with our Signature Select Brown Bread, which is made with wheat and barley flour, sweetened with molasses, and topped with oats. 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category? Our Signature Select Brown Bread elevates the bread aisle as it contains no artificial flavors and no high fructose corn syrup. 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? Customers say our Brown Bread has become a staple in their homes!

Signature SELECT™ Moose Tracks® Ice Cream Cake Team Led By Stephanie Chien Director, Own Brands Product Management

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. Our decadent Signature Select Moose Tracks Ice Cream Cake is made with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter cups, and Moose Tracks fudge, and it’s perfect for small gatherings, date night, or to enjoy as an everyday indulgent treat at home. 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category? This indulgent ice cream cake is prepared with premium products and upscale flavors. 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? This flavor has performed equally well in the colder off-season as during the summers months, proving how much customers love our ice cream cake all year-round!

Signature SELECT™ Bar Mix Sweet and Spicy Team Led By Liliana Santos Director, Own Brands Product Management

1. Describe this product and how it meets consumers’ needs. The Signature Select Sweet & Spicy Bar Mix includes honey roasted peanuts, cheddar seasoned corn sticks, sesame sticks, honey mustard pretzels pieces, pretzels, and Cajun corn nuggets – all coming together in each handful to deliver a balanced sweet and spicy flavor profile – and can be enjoyed every day! 2. How does this product elevate private brands or stand out within its broader category? Our Signature Select Bar Mix stands out on the shelf with its variety of ingredients, creating surprise and delight for our customers. 3. What can you share about how the product has been performing and how has the retailer promoted the product? Our Bar Mix has quickly become a ‘beer nut’ snacking solution for customers!

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Equate Eucalyptus Congestion Relief & Aromatherapy Shower Spray from Walmart; • Mini Rose Hydrosol from 365 by Whole Foods Market; • Bamboo Bath Tissue from Sprouts; • Total Home Earth Essentials Compostable Birch Cutlery from CVS; • Seven Farms Organic Vanilla Almond Granola from Federated Group; • Organic White Jasmine Rice from Thrive Market; • Lidl Organic Coconut Flour; • Culinaria Raspberry-Lemon Italian Soda from Schnuck Markets; • Nature’s Nectar Aloe Vera Drink from Aldi; • Kroger Hydro Go Caffeinated Water. “The award winners exemplify how store brands go above-and-beyond consumer expectations,” said PLMA President Peggy Davies. “They represent exceptional quality, value and innovation.”

All submissions were grouped in one of several categories, including Meal Preparation, Food for the Family, Healthy Eating, Beverages, Snacks, Bakery & Desserts, Dairy, Health & Beauty and Home & Household. The Salute to Excellence awards are usually unveiled during the Private Label Trade Show in Chicago, which had to be canceled out of health and safety concerns from the ongoing pandemic. In late March, PLMA is launching an online virtual event called PLMA Global that will connect buyers and exhibitors over its in-depth platform, that includes face-to-face video meetings. Registration is open. The global event combines the audiences of its Chicago and Amsterdam events. For Salute to Excellence, each product was evaluated by a panel of professional and consumer judges on several criteria, including taste and sensory appeal, packaging, presentation and value for money. Go to to see a full list of winners.


IRRESISTIBLES VANILLA CARAMEL STROOPWAFEL SANDWICHES 1. Irresistibles Stroopwafel Sandwiches with vanilla ice cream are an out of the ordinary frozen dessert available in an ideal format for both a snack or a gourmet dessert, for young and old, at a very reasonable price. 2. The Dutch waffle or stroopwafel (“waffle with syrup”) is a pastry from the Netherlands composed of two pieces of waffle filled with caramel syrup. With our vanilla ice cream inserted between two of those dreamy cookies, it’s a match made in heaven. 3. Irresistibles Stroopwafel Sandwiches are available in 4 banners: Metro Quebec, Metro Ontario, Super C and Food Basics, allowing us to reach different types of customers. Several flyers have been created to promote the product and to highlight its attributes.

SELECTION PREMIUM DARK CHOCOLATE SEA SALT PEANUT BUTTER CUPS 1. A high-end version of a classic treat that will appeal to discerning consumers. Each package contains 16 dark chocolate cups filled with roasted peanut butter and enhanced with a light touch of sea salt. These decadent melt-in-your-mouth chocolates offer a perfect balance of sweet and salty. It contains no artificial flavours or colours. 2. Selection Premium found the perfect balance of sweet and salty with this high-end peanut butter cup. Richer and more refined than its conventional counterpart, this gourmet treat is enhanced with a touch of sea salt and dark chocolate. The peanut butter cups come in a suitably elegant box, making it an excellent gift, even to yourself. 3. This product was mainly promoted during the holiday season, in the flyers and in all the Metro stores in Quebec.

LIFE SMART PLANT-BASED VEGAN PARTY PACK ASSORTMENT 1. Canadians who are vegan or health conscious will be delighted with this vegan party pack with gourmet potato samosas, curry coconut bites, beefless salsa bites and chickenless kung pao bites in one package. These savoury hors d'oeuvres will make you discover a whole world of flavours with each bite. 2. Add a delicious twist to your parties with this festive assortment and its selection of plant-based vegan bites. These 5 different varieties are ready to serve in a short time, so they provide a quick, flavourful snack or side dish. 3. The Life Smart Plant-Based Vegan party pack assortment is available in Metro Quebec, Metro Ontario and Food Basics. The product was promoted through various promotions in Metro Quebec and Ontario. It has also been put forward in these banners’ flyers.

LIFE SMART PLANT-BASED CAESAR DRESSING 1. This vegan Caesar salad dressing is perfect for Canadians who wish to reduce their consumption of animal protein, without compromising on the classic taste they expect. The teal blue label used for much of the plant-based line makes the products easy to spot on the shelves. A quality dressing at an affordable price, with no animal-derived ingredients or preservatives. 2. Life Smart’s Plant-based Caesar Dressing offers an amazing taste and is suitable for any dietary preferences. And it’s not just for salads: use it instead of ketchup or enjoy it as a dip. The dressing comes in a recycled glass container that’s fully recyclable and with a convenient resealable cap. 3. The Life Smart Vegan Caesar Dressing is available in 4 banners: Metro Quebec, Metro Ontario, Super C and Food Basics. The product has been put forward in the different flyers of these banners, mainly supported with recipes in our My health my choices booklet also available online.

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Store Brands

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etailer own brands continue to grow and become stronger brands in their own right, and technology in many facets plays a key role plugging in that charge. But in what areas and who are some of the names and faces providing this jolt? Store Brands put out a call for submissions and settled on these leaders at various technology companies, sharing who they are and how

they are stepping up for store brands. We call them “Store Brands Leaders in Tech,” a first roundup of its kind for the publication. These are private brand point people at technology companies that touch e-commerce, aid in personalization, help optimize the supply chain, provide data analytics and more. Retail and private label is just scratching the surface of how it uses technology and here are some players to keep an eye on:

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the Tasty app for Walmart private label brands, enabling consumers to directly select items for pickup or delivery at Walmart stores nationwide.

Molly McFarland,

co-founder, chief revenue officer, AdAdapted McFarland began AdAdapted a decade ago with co-founder Mike Pedersen, growing the outfit to more than 65 employees. It’s with her expertise in mobile advertising and add-to-list solutions where she can help private brands meet shoppers in the right place at the right time. She understands that private label products are a great source of revenue for retailers, so she works with them to understand the AdAdapted platform to make it easier for consumers to see private products via mobile and add them to a mobile shopping list. Via AdAdpated, private brand leaders can uncover which products are seeing popularity increases versus decreases, get a real-time read on purchase intent and predict in-store sales, see how product categories are changing and optimize ad budgets. One example, McFarland has been instrumental in bringing this technology to life for store brands, as she was the driving force behind AdAdapted’s recent partnership with Buzzfeed’s Tasty, introducing a unique Add-to-Bag service from


Store Brands

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Shekar Raman,

CEO, founder, Birdzi For a retailer partner of Birdzi’s, a personalization campaign resulted in a 38.2% increase in categories being shopped, including its private label items. Raman and the AI-powered platform he founded is a driving force in personalization and retail. Inspired by his 11-yearold daughter, Raman is passionate about building data-driven technologies that leverage machine learning to help retailers and private brands elevate the customer experience. And he’s got a dizzyingly impressive resume: Raman began his career working on the Human Genome Project at the department of human genetics, University of Pennsylvania, developing algorithms for protein modeling. He was part of some of the pioneering groups in bioInformatics at Penn and at the department of human genetics, UNLV, where he applied speech recognition techniques to identify and classify genetic sequences. Raman continued onto

AT&T Bell Labs, working in the speech recognition and later moved on to systems engineering, architecting and implementing infrastructure solutions for a large Fortune 500 company working in both consulting and management roles. Raman has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communications from Osmania University, Hyderabad India. He went to Graduate School at Villanova University where he obtained a MS in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Digital Signal Processing and Pattern Recognition. Birdzi and Raman now can help grocers promote their own brands by utilizing search results, featuring brands in weekly promotions and incorporating personalized wellness.

Allan Peretz,

president, BOLD Strategies Peretz has spent time on the branded and private brand supplier side, having worked with First Quality Consumer Products, a private brand manufacturer of paper products and more, where he helped lead the Walmart relationship, and 14 years with Procter & Gamble, helping lead the brand’s direct-toconsumer e-commerce strategy. It’s a knowledge base that helps him drive a multi-million e-commerce firm today, leading the consolidation of more

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than 25 different DTC e-commerce efforts across the United States, China, Germany and other major markets. For retailers and their store brands, he finds ways to help them grow on the digital shelf.

Diane Keng,

CEO, Breinify Keng, a member of the 30 Under 30 Forbes list for enterprise technology, runs the AI and predictive personalization platform Breinify, helping retailers and their private label brands enable data science in marketing campaigns, looking to drive up online sales and reaction rates. Prior to Breinify, Keng was at Apple and Symantec and frequently speaks on the intersection of AI, personal data, privacy and the future of smarter products. By using Breinify’s platform, customers have achieved results such as $125M in new revenue, 20 times more page visits, and more than 105% in CRM growth in the last year, according to the company. Breinify’s platform is powered by proprietary AI, which blends traditional machine learning and complex algorithms. It makes intelligent decisions for individual consumers, across digital marketing channels with measurable results within months. In 2021,

Alice Fang,

VP, U.S. retail analytics, Catalina Fang and her team have built from scratch a suite of analytics tools for the private label space, and central to it is Catalina’s Private Brand Dashboard — a data analytics platform that shows a real-time national overview of store brand sales, number of shoppers, trips, dollars spent per trip and sales penetration. The board details shopper migration and the balance of new, consistent and lapsed private brand lapsed shoppers, and it tracks private brand sales down to the UPC level. One example of Fang’s work, her team discovered that Asian American private brand shoppers seek out more organic foods and African American consumers are six times more likely to avoid products with gluten than Hispanic consumers. Two years ago, this level of granularity didn’t exist, per the company. Fang has restructured and now manages the

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company’s analytics group, and with a background in mathematical and statistical modeling, she is a thought leader in marketing campaign design, measurement methodology and ROI Optimization. Fang has integrated insights and dashboards into Catalina’s HUB360 to help retailers plan smarter, target better and optimize faster including shopper insights for Meijer and Walgreens. In 2017, she won Catalina’s MVP Award and earned the President’s Award for custom projects while at Nielsen’s Spectra Marketing, where she oversaw the company’s loyalty marketing and point-of-sale data analysis.

Breinify expanded partnerships with over 80% of existing customers and continues to grow. Breinify, San Francisco, recently raised an $11 million oversubscribed seed round.

Michael Hung,

CEO, CBX Software Overseeing two businesses that help drive private brands, CBX Cloud and TradeBeyond, Hung and CBX Software help retailers and their own brands streamline product development, sourcing and supplier management. CBX Cloud is built for tier-one retailers and brands that are focused on expanding private label merchandise assortments and scaling direct import sourcing with suppliers in order to compress supply chain time to market, run leaner, drive higher topline growth, and widen margins. For

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Trade Beyond, the platform is an online portal and app where retailers, especially those with private brands, suppliers and factories from all around the world connect, source, extend innovation, and bring private label products to market. Members work virtually in real-time changing how retail manages product development and sourcing. By collaborating with potential retailers and working partner on TradeBeyond, private labels can expedite their product development, marketization and deal-making processes. As CBX Software’s CEO, Hung holds overall responsibility for the company’s strategy and key business initiatives. With about 30 years of IT Industry ex-

perience, hel has focused on developing software and solutions that streamline business processes for leading retail, private label brands, manufacturing and financial services organizations. Prior to CBX, he consulted for a range of clients and industries with Lotus Consulting, now part of IBM andl holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Business Administration, from Carnegie Mellon University.

Wayne Bennett, SVP of retail, ECRM

Brandon Leong,

SVP, marketing and growth, RangeMe

Combined, ECRM and RangeMe have created private brand sourcing campaigns for retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Lidl, Petco, PetSmart, Walgreens and Walmart — and Bennett and Leong have been there to see it through in leadership positions. To help its retailer partners source, the two technology

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Left to right: Wayne Bennett and Brandon Leong platforms integrated to build out virtual meeting spaces that enabled suppliers and retail buyers engage in growing store brand assortments. At ECRM, Bennett developed and implemented ECRM business solutions to help large national food, drug and mass market retailers

achieve category growth goals. He’s been in the industry a long time, including as the group publisher of Drug Store News for 21 years, a publication of EnsembleIQ, the owner of Store Brands. Leong offers more of a blend of CPG industry experience and time working with high-growth technology start-ups. He has held senior marketing roles for over a decade, most recently at the retail analytics company Quri and, before that, Aria Systems. At RangeMe, Leong leads a marketing team that oversees the platform that streamlines product discovery for more than 15,000 category buyers over 200,000 product suppliers.

Katie Hotze,

CEO, founder, Grocery Shopii Founding Grocery Shopii in 2019, Hotze has made the Charlotte-based startup a player in leveraging machine learning to fuel online grocery shopping. On the private brand side,

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she helps map private brand products into shoppable recipe content that is integrated with the retailer’s basket. The tech is a white-label platform that floods the shopping experience with recipes sourced from and including private brands as well as food bloggers, all which can be added to a shopper’s cart instantly. Promoting private label within shoppable recipe content generates significant growth opportunities for retailers as they push higher margin product while reducing the total cost of each recipe for the shopper, the company said. It also gives the retailer power to fill carts with store brand products that may be overlooked by shoppers. Hotze makes all this happen with more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, data analytics and strategy. She has been named a RIS Top 10 Women in Grocery Tech, a publication of EnsembleIQ.

that dynamically compares own brand product matches via machine learning and a patented engine at Intelligence Node. Dimitrov developed the design of the product-matching solution, which is providing some of the largest global retailers with a scalable process of creating and dynamically maintaining private brand matches among competitors and across categories. For example, the solution in apparel uses image analytics to understand clothing patterns, designs, even collar and sleeve size, to create a similar match to a competitor’s product. Dimitrov helped found the company that maps more than 1 billion unique products across 190,000 brands for more than 1,400 categories across 100plus languages every minute. Intelligence Node has worked with retailers like Lidl, John Lewis and Li & Fung. Previously, he was a practice leader at the Boston Consulting Group in the London office, where he was responsible for delivering strategic planning projects to leading financial institutions.

He previously served as advisor to webbased 3D and AR solution provider for eCommerce at Vertebrae Inc, which was acquired by Snapchat. With Native, he and his team use AI-powered solutions to democratize consumer data, allowing private brands to better understand their consumer — and ultimately better optimize product development, consumer experience, marketing and more. With Native’s AI solutions, private label brands can learn more about their customers and competitively market to optimize SKU rationalization, product quality and price to strengthen their overall strategy. Native also leverages the latest in smart QR code technology to gain an in-depth understanding of a consumer’s identity and how they interact with the product. QR codes create a digital footprint at the point of scan that helps brands track their success against different variables and provide customers a more personalized experience that creates higher margins and cost-savings.

Frank Pica,

Andrew Criezis,

Yasen Dimitrov,

co-founder and chief analytics officer, Intelligence Node Dimitrov works with retailers around the globe to help them see and understand pricing on competitive store brand items, driving the Intelligence Node Product Matching solution


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cofounder, CEO, Pica, co-founder and CEO of Native. ai, has a deep knowledge of AI, having been a founding member of AI marketing platform LockerDome.

SVP, general manager, SMB, NielsenIQ As a leader behind NielsenIQ’s small and medium business operations (SMB), leading the consumer behavior-

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tracking company’s private label data activity, Criezis and NeilsenIQ aim to give clients a forward-looking view into ever-changing customer behaviors to optimize retail performance. Criezis is an expert in CPG, retail and brand analytics and revenue generation, which manifests as SMB NielsenIQ’s platform Byzzer. The platform uses product coding for private label data to enable private label brands to measure performance in specific retailers as well as across channels. Buzzer aims to provide transparency to look at branded items and compare side by side with private label counterparts. The system was launched in 2020 with Criezis as its chief product officer, showcasing his experience.

ket development, product design, consulting and more. Today, Oracle’s solution is used by major grocery retailers in collaboration with 250,000 suppliers annually, spanning 90% of private label products in the U.K. Woodward has worked with some of the very best in the private label market, and from these collaborations, Oracle has developed a technology platform to support the product development lifecycle, labeling compliance, environmental assessments, ethical practices, quality and incident management. The company called the solution that Woodward founded the “most successful private label management solution for nearly three decades.”

with a private label home brand. The retailer’s bath and beauty marketing team was notified by Outlier when candle sales exceeded the expected sales volume. The AI platform automatically found this insight and helped direct the marketing team toward a specific category of offerings that could bring in new revenue. As a result, the brand was able to quickly launch marketing campaigns to promote candles and leverage this positive change in customer behavior.

James Butcher,

Paul Woodward,

senior director, Oracle retail brand solutions, Oracle Woodward is no stranger to private label. In 1995, he founded the world’s first private label management solution with British chain Tesco, and now at Oracle provides retailers with a complete and integrated suite of business applications, cloud services and more to empower commerce and store brands. For 27 years, Woodward has led Oracle’s private label initiatives in the United Kingdom, including mar-

Sean Byrnes,

CEO, co-founder, Outlier Led by CEO and co-founder Byrnes, Oakland-based aims to help marketers, data analysts and supply chain operators across several sectors, including retail, identify unexpected changes across business data. Using advanced AI and machine learning algorithms, Outlier enables data storytelling by automatically providing customers with contextual information on behavioral data changes, related data and potential impact. The company’s resume includes private label success

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CEO, Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB) Butcher joined Solutions for Retail Brands (S4RB) in 2012 and has transformed the way that retail private brand teams work with their suppliers. S4RB clients include major players in private label such as ASDA, Walmart, Walgreens-Boots and more. S4RB’s platform enables data-driven and people-centric tools to align suppliers with brand strategy to achieve change and private brand transformation. Butcher has been an advocate of supplier engagement, empowering suppliers to work with retail private label teams as ‘one,’ which S4RB calls a ‘win-win’ relationship that ensures more efficient, consistent success for

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private label brands compared to more traditional supplier relationship management methods.

Melissa Zavislak,

senior director of retail and destinations, Shopkick, a Trax Company Shopkick’s retail operations are led by Zavislak, who joined the company last year to serve as senior director of retail and destinations. Prior to joining Shopkick, she spent six years in private label at Niagara Bottling. Shopkick is a leading shopping rewards app that uses a pay-for-performance model that is designed to deliver high ROI while driving traffic, product engagement and sales, with high-profile clients such as KraftHeinz, Barilla, Kellogg’s and Unilever. Shopkick is a mobile advertising platform that can boost private label sales without eroding brand margins. As a leading omnichannel retail marketing solution that drives incremental foot traffic, brand engagement, and sales throughout the entire shopping journey, Shopkick can help retailers convert short-term trials of private brand products into long-term customer loyalty by establishing strategies to cement new consumer shopping habits in the digital & physical world. Zavislak is responsible for am-


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plifying Shopkick’s partnership strategy across the channels.

to consider switching from national brands to own brands.

Sonia Parekh,

Julie Companey,

head of client engagement, Symphony RetailAI Parekh has served as Symphony RetailAI’s vice president of client engagement since 2019, helping clients use a data-driven approach to improving private brand strategy, customer analytics and more. The company is a leading provider of AI-powered growth management solutions for retailers and CPG manufacturers, including private label, working with more than 1,200 organizations worldwide including 15 of the top 25 grocery retailers. Parekh has more than 25 years of experience in retail, management consulting and technology, and has served in executive roles with Deloitte, Kalypso, Boomerang Commerce and more. She directly supports the own brands team at a major national grocery chain to identify private label opportunities to guide the launch of new own brand offerings. Using Symphony RetailAI’s technology, Parekh helps the team measure the impact of new private label items, gain insights into shopper loyalty for own brands versus national brands, learn which shoppers buy one or the other exclusively, and which shoppers are likely

director of client strategy, enterprise sales, grocery channel, Vericast Companey leads Vericast’s private label strategy, working with retail clients on growing market share by promoting the quality, assortment and diversity of private brands, along with expanding private brand marketing to incorporate traditional and digital media. Vericast, a marketing solutions firm, works with over 70,000 brands and businesses using award-winning technologies. Companey has more than 25 years of experience in the grocery channel industry, including 15 years working for data and media suppliers to grocery, drug, mass and dollar channels. Using her experience, Companey recommends retailers capitalize on private brand growth by promoting private brands in weekly print and digital circulars, coupons, direct mail and digital media efforts that help drive in-store or online traffic. She also shares with grocery retailers the trends in coupon redemption and new product launches that have been successful for retailers who incorporate an omnichannel private brand media plan. SB

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By Dan Ochwat

t the Plant Based World Expo in New York, held in-person last December, plant-based food and beverage suppliers lined up the aisles cooking meat-alternative dishes from chicken parm sandwiches to specialty pizzas. The trade show was buzzing, as the category is truly booming. Bloomberg Intelligence data, for example, said plant-based meat and dairy alternatives could reach 5% and 10% of their respective global market shares in the next decade, while the global plant-based alternative-meat market may grow to $28 billion by 2025. Bloomberg also reported that this could translate into

JOAN KAVANAUGH VP, national buying, ALDI U. U.S.


What can you share about the ALDI private label plant-based offerings?

The plant-based category is such an exciting one and we have been blown away by the response to these newer products, particularly our vegetarian and vegan line Earth Grown. Earth Grown started as an ALDI Find back in 2018 and received such a positive response from our customers

a $74 billion opportunity by 2030 if sales growth and penetration levels mimic those of plant-based milks to reach 5% of the total meat and fish market. Plant-based meat accounted for just 0.3% of total meat sales in 2020, but growth is accelerating and plant-based meat retail sales could reach $118 billion in 2030, per the report. However, when visiting the Plant Based World Expo, where Store Brands moderated a panel on building private label, it was evident that many of the plant-based suppliers haven’t quite transitioned into building out a private label program. Here are tips from three leaders:

that less than eight months later we expanded the line and made it a part of our everyday selection. Earth Grown has quickly become one of our most popular brands and one that we see a lot of excitement about on social media when new items arrive on-shelf. We are constantly introducing new seasonal flavors and options through ALDI Finds, and we also offer plant-based milk alternatives from our Friendly Farms line.


What are you looking for from supplier partnerships in the plant-based space?

This is such a rapidly growing category with new innovations in the pipeline every day. We’re always look-

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WHAT’S DRIVING THE PLANTBASED BOOM? Consumer interest has never been higher in two important segments of the food industry—store brands and plant-based options. Store brand market share is approaching 18% of total dollar sales accounting for almost $200 billion in revenue across all major retail channels. That is an alltime record high, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association. Private label entries are no longer “me too” versions of national brands, but sales generators in their own right. Proprietary products build store loyalty and offer a competitive edge versus the store across the street. At the same time, consumers are on a quest for healthier and sustainable food


GLOBAL SALES OF PLANT-BASED FOOD ALTERNATIVES ARE ON A TRAJECTORY TO SURPASS THE $162 BILLION MARKET BY 2030. options. Global sales of plant-based food alternatives are on a trajectory to surpass $162 billion by 2030, predicts a Bloomberg Intelligence Report. That’s up from $29.4 billion in 2020. There are currently almost 10 million people who consider themselves vegan—and that number is on the rise. Additionally, there are many people seeking out plant-based products for health and environmental reasons. Consumers have shown they are willing to seek out retailers with plant-based options. Until now, there have been few options in one of the fastest-growing categories in the food industry today— confections. Fueled by the pandemic and sustained as the world returns to a somewhat “new normal,” the category (chocolate, non-chocolate, gum and mint) posted sales increases of 10.2% for the 52-weeks ended December 26, 2021 versus the year before according to IRI data. Chocolate commands almost 60% of sales totaling $16.7 billion.

Krüger Delivers Tasty Breakthrough in Plant-Based Chocolates

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Krüger Group, a proven leader with more than 50 years of experience in store brands, has always put sustainability and healthy options at the forefront of its products. That is especially true in chocolates, a hallmark of the company. “We are seeing a huge demand for our better for you candy

products,” said Connor Kramer, Krüger national accounts manager. To meet demand the company fitted one of its factories in Poland to gear up for production of plant-based chocolates including the popular tablet form. While there are pleasing options in dark chocolate on the market, milk chocolate has proved more problematic. Until now.

MORE THAN 9.7 MILLION AMERICANS COUNT THEMSELVES AS VEGAN. Krüger met the challenge of creating tasty and vegan milk chocolate by replacing dairy with oat milk. “We’re proud of our new recipe and we want the world to know more about it and satisfy demand for this growing plant-based category,” Kramer said. The company’s menu of confectionery options match, exceed and fill in gaps that exist in national brand assortments. Since there is no leading national brand chocolate leader in the plant-based segment, the opportunity exists for a store brand to fill the gap. Store brand options not only fill a market need but can build store loyalty and boost category profit margins. In fact, research from Moonshot Collaborative revealed three-quarters of consumers who prefer plant-based foods are willing to pay a premium for plant-based alternatives. Kruger can collaborate with retailers to offer store brands that are vegan, fair trade, non-GMO, Rain Forest Alliance Certified and RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

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PLANT-BASED REPORT ing for supplier partners that we can collaborate closely with to help track consumer trends and quickly bring new plant-based products to market. For example, in recent years, one of the main trends we’ve noticed is customers embracing the idea of being “flexitarian,” and wanting to limit their consumption of animal-based products but not eliminate them entirely. We’ve taken this insight into consideration as we continue to evolve our offerings. That being said, the biggest tip I have for suppliers is to really have a pulse on the consumer, what they’re looking for and what they’re interested in. Retailers want to look at their suppliers as trusted partners who can help bring shoppers the products they want most.

Really have a pulse on the consumer, what they’re looking for and what they’re interested in. Retailers want to look at their suppliers as trusted partners who can help bring shoppers the products they want most.


What’s new with Kroger’s private label plant-based offerings?

We are developing our Simple Truth plant-based products to taste so good that even non-vegan customers will enjoy them. When we are developing and tasting new plant-based foods, we are adamant that they must be delicious and appealing to vegans and flexitarians alike. Last year alone, we added more than 30 new plant-based products under the Simple Truth brand and expanded into our Deli/Bakery department. ●

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What can you share about PURIS and its private label plant-based offerings?

Retailers and consumers are just scratching the surface of plant-based. We’re still very early in the plant-based movement despite how much the category is discussed. Our world consists of developing innovative plant-based products for literally every aisle of the store. Our assortment includes plant-based meat, dairy, RTDs, milks, yogurts, snacks, cereals, eggs and more. PURIS has the capabilities to utilize off-the-shelf formulas that can get customers into the marketplace quickly. We also have the ability to co-create unique offerings designed for the private brands’ customer base.


JUAN DE PAOLI, VP of Our Brands, Kroger

Store Brands


What are you looking for from supplier partnerships? Future growth in plant-based categories will largely come from flexitarians, not vegans. This means plant-based foods need to be as good or better than their animal-based counterparts, in taste, nutrition and functionality.

How does PURIS work with retailers to develop plant-based products for private label?

Joan Kavanaugh, ALDI


Some of the plant-based Simple Truth items are featured in our 2022 Food Trends report, including our plantbased baking mixes and cheesecake. We’ve found that there is a mindset shift in the purchasing of plant-based foods. Customers look to them for indulgence, comfort and nostalgia, while still lowering their carbon footprint. Uncovering this consumer sentiment allows us to think outside the box and deliver an array of plant-based options to delight all of our cravings.

PURIS is uniquely suited to help our customers develop and grow their private brand offerings due to our deep knowledge and expertise in plant-based foods. Every day PURIS is developing plant-based products that taste amazing, are nutritious, have a clean label and are affordable. Private brands are a great entry point for customers to try plant-based products and PURIS understands how quickly the plant-based space is growing. We’re constantly innovating and bringing new and ontrend products to the marketplace. By closely collaborating with our customers, we work to understand their plant-based needs and the purchasing behaviors of their customers. Ultimately, PURIS’s goal is to help the customer navigate through the journey of plant-based products and create an exceptional consumer experience.

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Don’t miss our 2022 Lineup!


SEPT 18th

MAY 25th

DEC 14th

Store Brands Industry Forum on Consumer Trends

Store Brands Industry Forum on E-Commerce

Store Brands Industry Forum on Supply Chain

Store Brands Industry Summit

JULY 27th

Store Brands Industry Forum on Sustainability

QUESTIONS OR INTEREST IN SPONSORING? Contact: Natalie Filtser at 917-690-3245 or email:

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By Michael Applebaum

t the Petco Reddy SoHo store in downtown Manhattan, Fido gets the four-star (or fourpaw) treatment. He can spend the afternoon relaxing at the high-end boutique, testing out the comfy doggie beds and getting a custom fitting for a monogrammed vest, all while slurping fresh water and snacking on a whipped cream cup for pups. When Petco extended the Reddy brand (part of the retailer’s owned brand portfolio that also includes WholeHearted, a nutrition brand, and Well & Good, a grooming, supplies and supplement brand) into its flagship store last October, the move spoke volumes about the strength of the overall pet category. The U.S. pet care industry, which includes pet food, supplies and treats, grooming and veterinary services, surpassed $100 billion in sales for the first time in 2021, reaching an estimated $109.5 billion, according to Statista. The momentum from the pandemic-induced adoption boom did not slow down, as growth rates within the category were comparable to those of 2020, according to data from IRI. Reddy has seen double-digit growth since its introduction in 2018, driven by category expansion across apparel, travel, home and accessories, according to Nick Konat, chief mer28

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chandising officer at Petco. That success is emblematic of underlying growth trends in the category —namely the desire among pet owners to have the best for their furry friends and to treat them like members of the family. “Macro trends such as the humanization of pets and premiumization of pet products are driving consumers’ purchasing decisions,” said Konat. “Reddy specifically addresses a white space in the market across both national and private brands by delivering clever, effortless solutions for pet parents, with an aesthetic that fits seamlessly into the urban millennial lifestyle. We know that Reddy shoppers care about sustainability [and engage in] on-the-go and outdoor activities, so we’ve created a brand that perfectly caters to this audience.”

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TARGET, ALDI EXPAND PET PORTFOLIOS Private label pet care brands have been coming on strong lately, with new entrants led by Target’s Kindfull, a high-quality brand of dog and cat food, introduced last August. This year, Aldi plans to unveil more new products under its Heart to Tail line, including apparel and toys, according to Kate Kirkpatrick, director of communications at Aldi U.S. “We’ve seen the most growth with our nonfood Heart to Tail products,” she said. “We’ve been testing out new products from the line as part of our limited time Aldi Finds, and customer feedback has been incredibly positive.” Despite the increased activity, private label’s share of the overall pet care category has remained relatively flat, rising from 17.2% in 2019 to 18.1% in both 2020 and 2021, according to data provided by NielsenIQ. Still, private label manufacturers see opportunities for further growth in areas like plant-based and all-natural pet foods. “Growing consumer adoption of the flexitarian lifestyle is fueling interest in closer-to-nature, plant-forward pet foods using alternative proteins like beans, pulses and ancient grains,” said Amy McCarthy, vice president of pet solutions at ADM Animal Nutrition in St. Louis. “Additionally, pet parents are shopping for customizable functional nutrition solutions that support pet well-being, including digestive health, immune function, oral care and healthy aging. Private label brands can rely on ADM’s pet nutrition portfolio and science-based solutions to develop quality products that meet market trends and support overall pet well-being.”


When choosing between national and store brands, Petco’s Konat said that consumers’ shopping habits vary by audience segment and product category. “Some consumers may be drawn to national brands with high brand awareness, and for others, owned or private label brands may appeal to their desire for clever innovations and unique designs,” he explained. “Shoppers, especially our guests, are increasingly discerning, with particular interests based on their pets’ unique needs, such as age, activity level and dietary requirements.” Thankfully, pets themselves tend to keep an open mind (and mouth) when it comes to new products and experiences. As Konat tells the story, one four-year-old Shih Tzu has been visiting Reddy SoHo nearly every day since opening weekend. “The dog’s pet parents shared that the boutique is one of her favorite places to visit and that they absolutely love curating fashionable Reddy outfits for her that only add to the pup’s magnetic presence and bring joy to all those around,” he said. Apparently, life is not so “ruff” all around in this category.

HOT SEGMENTS: TREATS AND CHEWS One of the byproducts of stay-at-home trends during the pandemic was that consumers sought out more items like treats and chews — two of the strongest areas of the pet market for private label manufacturers. “We’ve been shipping truckloads of training treats and chews,” said Stephen Trachtenberg, president of Tier 2 Processing in Saint Charles, Minnesota. “While we’re seeing growth across the board, those segments are really hot right now and a lot of the growth is coming from private label.” Trachtenberg says private label is catching up to national brands through advancements in pet food product quality that leverage the humanization trend with more recognizable ingredients like carrots and turnips. Still, he said grocery retailers need to do more to improve the look and feel of pet food aisles in order to level the playing field for private brands.

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Doing the Foxtrot

The modern c-store experience is alive and well at Foxtrot, a company looking to open 25 more stores in 2022 through another round of funding and expand its private label to represent an assortment of more than 200 items across coffee, ready-to-eat meals and in nonfood categories, too. Store Brands ventured into a Chicago location and were wowed by the design and private label layout.

The retailer has nice merch available, and also just entered the nonfood space with private label beauty products.

The eye-catching neon Foxtrot logo feels more like a swanky speakeasy than a retailer, and with the large open window view of this location downtown Chicago, it comes off almost as a nice cafe than a retailer.

Foxtrot boasts more than 200 bottles of wine. 30

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The chain’s ice cream is very popular and the fun packaging jumps right through the glass doors.

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