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MARCH 2021


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COVER STORY: State of the Industry

A by-the-numbers look at key categories in private label



Editor’s Note


Industry News




Questions/ Answers


Dispatches: Store Brands in the Wild

Cover Story:

State of the Industry A by the numbers look at private label overall and the topperforming categories.

24 Supply Chain 13


Best in Show Highlighting products that stood out on the virtual show floor at the recent PLMA Private Label Week

22 Hot Category: Snacks

Consumers are snacking more during the pandemic and the sales show it

Experts anticipate consumers’ postpandemic expectations for retail


32 Private Label Hall of Fame

Friends and colleagues share memories of Brian Sharoff

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. 4

Store Brands

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February 2021

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An EnsembleIQ Publication 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Seth Mendelson (973) 650-0263,

EDITORIAL Managing Editor David Salazar (212) 756-5114, Executive Editor Dan Ochwat (773) 992-4416,

Brian Sharoff should probably have been selected to the very first class entered into the Private Label Hall of Fame back in 2006. But the longtime president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association would never have let that happen. Sharoff, who passed away last May after a short illness, was never one to steal the limelight, while, at the same time, always being the one who knew exactly what to do in virtually every situation. This year, the entire private label industry is honoring Sharoff and his many, many accomplishments that greatly Seth Mendelson helped the industry by selecting him as the only entry into the Publisher/ Private Label Hall of Fame for 2021. Editor-in-Chief I knew Brian for about 30 years and I have no doubt that if he was still with us, he would put up a big fuss about being selected to the hall, let alone being the only person so honored. He would shake his head in that special way and make it clear to anyone and everyone that there were other candidates more qualified than him for this honor. He would stress over and over again that he was just doing his job, running a trade organization and helping to make retailers more aware of the many benefits of private label and store brand products. We, as an industry, He would be right on one count. There are many owe it to him for qualified candidates for the Hall of Fame. But, they all that he has will have to wait another year to gain entry into done, over a nearly this elite group of about 70 people. It is altogether fitting and proper that Sharoff stand apart as this 40-year career, year’s only entrant. for private label We, as an industry, owe it to him for all that he and store brands. has done, over a nearly 40-year career, for private label and store brands. We owe it to him for the advice he gave to retailers, suppliers and, yes, even the trade press that resulted in more sales, more profits and more exposure for this category. To honor Brian in our annual Hall of Fame issue, Store Brands asked many of his closest friends, co-workers and key industry officials to tell us a little about their interaction with him. It was probably the easiest story we’ve ever commissioned. Everyone rushed to tell a tale about Brian and how he impacted their lives, personally and professionally. We wish we had more room to feature additional industry officials about their adventures with Brian. More importantly, we wish he was here with us to share these tales, if only because he would end up telling us more. He is still very much missed by all of us. 6

Store Brands

March 2021

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

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production Derek Estey (877) 687-7321 x 1004, 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 Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several 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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3/15/21 11:44 AM

Simple Truth Inspires Beauty Products Target’s Latest Own Brand Embraces Indulgence

Target’s newest owned food-and-beverage brand is helping consumers indulge themselves. The company is introducing Favorite Day, which includes more than 700 sweet and savory products across two product lines — Favorite Day Bakery, which includes baked goods, and Favorite Day Gourmet, which encompasses sweets like ice cream and more. Target said Favorite Day was developed by its in-house team of food scientists and recipe developers, who have whipped a host of products, including bakery, trail mix, snacks, candy, cake decorating supplies, beverage mixers and mocktails, among many others. The company said the brand and its products — all of which come in at less than $15 — aim to fill the white space around wide-ranging food and beverages designed around celebration and indulgence. The retailer announced in early March that four of its store brands earned more than $2 billion annually, including Good & Gather, which Favorite Day complements. “We’re thrilled to build on Good & Gather’s success and the strength of Target’s food and beverage business by debuting our new owned brand, Favorite Day,” said Rick Gomez, Target executive vice president and chief food and beverage officer. “Rooted in guest insights and developed by our talented Target team, Favorite Day is a sweet and savory addition that tastes amazing, makes life’s little moments of indulgence even sweeter and continues to differentiate Target’s owned brand portfolio.” Some highlights of the new brand are s’mores chocolate bark with Golden Grahams pieces, caramel cold brew ice cream made with Colombian cold brew coffee and real bits of chocolate chunks with a caramel swirl, and ciabatta bread. The chocolate bark focuses on nostalgia with the Golden Grahams pieces and the ice cream aims to make inroads in the premium ice cream space. The ciabatta offers an example of the brand’s savory options. The brand will roll out to Target stores, the retailer’s website and its pickup, curbside and same-day delivery offerings beginning April 5. 8

Store Brands


March 2021

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Simple Truth, Kroger’s popular natural, organic and ‘free-from’ store brand, has added a line of beauty products from oatmilk bath milk to a sea salt, seaweed and kelp bar of soap. The food-and-beverages brand, which launched 50 new plant-based items last October, has inspired a collection of clean beauty products focused on using such natural ingredients as coconut, oatmeal, avocado and citrus, a representative of the retailer told Store Brands. Products are part of what the retailer is calling The Beauty Crate collection, which are branded with the Simple Truth Logo and leverage food-based ingredients. The self-care products are said to be a twist on beauty, inspired by fresh produce straight from the crate of a farmer’s market. Kroger said the items are vegan, non-GMO do not contain parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes/colors, or harsh chemicals. There are 20 products — including body oils, butters, scrubs, bath milks, soaps, balms and more — with 10 more coming in the spring. A few products in the lineup are: Simple Truth Coconut Milk Bath Milk, Simple Truth Coconut + Avocado Body Butter, Simple Truth Mango + Moringa Body Butter, Simple Truth Almond Body Oil, Simple Truth Peach + Apricot Exfoliating Sugar Cubes, Simple Truth Avocado + Coconut + Papaya Bar Soap, Simple Truth Cocoa + Cacao Nut Butter Scrub and Simple Truth Blueberry + Strawberry + Acai Froth Bomb. The Beauty Crate collection of products hit select store shelves in February but officially launched nationwide on Kroger Ship in early March.

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Dollar General Elevates Haircare

CVS Shoppers Pick Fave Store Brands

Shoppers have chosen the winners of CVS Health’s inaugural “Best of Our Brands” awards. Winners include products in 13 categories across the store. Customers went online to vote for their favorite CVS private brand products from its brands: CVS Health, Live Better by CVS Health, Gold Emblem, Gold Emblem abound, GSQ by GLAMSQUAD, and pop•arazzi. The contest was a fun way for the retailer to learn more about what their shoppers love most about its store brands. The winning products are given a “Best of Our Brands” designation in their product descriptions online. Among the 13 categories spanning health and wellness, snack and beauty, the winners are: • Favorite Self-Care Essential: CVS Health Healing Skin Therapy Lotion; • Favorite Skin Soother: pop•arazzi Milk & Honey Lip Balm; • Favorite Beauty Buy: GSQ by GLAMSQUAD Manicure + Pedicure Set; • Favorite Refresher: CVS Health Oil Absorbing Sheets; • Favorite Relaxation Support: CVS Health Shower Lavender Scented Effervescent Vapor Tablets; • Favorite Vitamin/Supplement: CVS Health Multivitamin Gummies; • Favorite Immunity Support Product: Live Better Vitamin C Caplets; • Favorite Sleep Support Staple: CVS Health Melatonin Gummies; • Favorite Recovery Staple: CVS Health peas Hot or Cold Therapy Pack; • Favorite Better-for-You Pantry Staple: Gold Emblem Everything Bagel Seasoning; • Favorite Snack for Fueling Up: Gold Emblem abound Heart Healthy Trail Mix; • Favorite Movie Night Snack: Gold Emblem abound Heavenly Light Popcorn; and • Favorite Trend-Inspired Product: CVS Health Shower Lavender Scented Effervescent Vapor Tablets. For more than 50 years, CVS Pharmacy has developed store brand products, with more than 200 health and wellness, beauty, and snacks products added just last year alone. More than half were welcomed under the retailer’s new Live Better by CVS Health rollout.


Store Brands

March 2021

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At an affordable price of $5 each, Dollar General has launched a line of 10 new hair care products that are vegan and cruelty free. The sleek-looking line is called Root to End, which consists of four shampoos, two conditioners, a scalp exfoliating treatment, and three styling products. The line is packaged in muted colors that reflect salon-like products. The products are available at more than 17,000 Dollar General stores and come free of SLS/SLES, parabens, phthalates and mineral oil. “Keeping the customer at the center of all we do, we worked to develop a clean hair care line for a broad range of customers’ hair care needs, and we’re thrilled to launch our new Root to End line this spring,” said Amanda Wilson, Dollar General’s senior buyer of beauty care. “We look forward to customers’ responses to our new formulations and assortment.” Every Root to End product contains a proprietary Strand Reviving Complex, a one-step blend containing 11 amino acids to help retain moisture in hair while conditioning and nourishing all hair types, the retailer said. The new items come on the heels of Dollar General announcing a six-day celebration of multicultural health, beauty and wellness at the retailer. The virtual event takes place March 15-20 and is a free, virtual event featuring seminars and tutorials on textured hair products, makeup and wellness items.

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A dvertI S e M eNt

Albertsons Associates Award Top Private Brand Products

Getting Products to Market Faster and Better Superior Pack Group Offers Single-Source Contract Packaging

When it comes to packaging, Superior Pack Group has it covered. The full-service, single-source contract packaging company helps manufacturers get the package they want and need with the quickest turnaround, in order to deliver optimum quality and shelf appeal to the consumer. Based in Harriman, NY, Superior Pack Group provides top quality packaging solutions to get products onto shelves quickly, accurately and cost effectively. “We have experience in all types of co-packing and can cover everything – with over 100 pieces of equipment in our facility we service a wide array of companies in the food and CPG industries,” reports company president Israel Schiff. In addition to its turnkey packaging solutions and state-oftheart technology, Superior Pack Group offers warehousing, distribution and fulfillment as well as ingredient sourcing, bulk purchasing and fully automated inventory control systems, among other services. Continually striving to offer the best and most updated services to manufacturers, the company maintains with pride the Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification and is now both Kosher and Organic certified. Because of its extensive system of equipment and its end-toend services, Superior Pack Group is able to help companies develop custom packaging according to their standards and needs. “We understand that packaging is a very important part of their business. Once we help customers design their package, we work with them closely to put the product on the shelves, with a quick turnaround,” Schiff says. For more information, visit, call 845-534-1015 or email


Store Brands


March 2021


Thousands of associates at Albertsons voted in the retailer’s first-ever Own Brands Associate Choice Awards, crowning products in 15 categories. The most coveted item was the retailer’s Signature Reserve dark chocolate sea salt caramels, which won two awards — favorite new store brand product of 2020 and favorite guilty pleasure food item. Chad Coester, senior vice president of Own Brands at Albertsons said the contest was about getting input from associates and identifying the items they’re most fanatical about and the ones they most proudly recommend to shoppers. “We’re proud of the quality and value of all our Own Brands products, but we were especially interested to learn which products our associates love the most,” he said. Winners were: · Favorite new 2020 Own Brands product: Signature Reserve dark chocolate sea salt caramels; · Favorite snack to eat on the go: Signature Select mix nuts deluxe value size; · Favorite healthy alternative: Open Nature parmesan cheese crisps; · Favorite “pick me up” product: O Organics French dark roast ground coffee; · Favorite breakfast item: Open Nature uncured applewood smoked bacon; · Favorite “home-gating” food: Signature Cafe hot fried chicken; · Favorite chef-inspired meal item: WaterfrontBistro Responsible Choice raw shrimp; · Favorite item to stock up on: Lucerne shredded Mexican style four cheese blend; · Favorite “kid-approved” product: Signature Select macaroni and cheese; · Favorite baby product: Open Nature Free & Clear baby wipes; · Favorite “guilty pleasure” food item: Signature Reserve dark chocolate sea salt caramels; · Favorite “treat yourself” product: Open Nature peppermint beeswax lip balm; · Favorite alcoholic beverage: Signature Reserve Tennessee whiskey; · Favorite immunity boosting product: O Organics vitamin D3 gummies; and · Favorite product for your furry friend: Signature Pet Care chicken jerky dog treats. Albertsons carries more than 12,000 products in its store brand portfolio consisting of the Signature family of brands, Open Nature, O Organics, Lucerne, WaterfrontBistro Responsible Choice seafood, Primo Taglio, Value Corner and debi lilly design.

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he Private Label Manufacturers Association completed its first PLMA Live! Presents Private Label Week, a five-day virtual trade show event that kicked off the month of February, and over the course of that week, while retailers and manufacturers connected to develop new private brand product ideas, Store Brands was on the hunt for the most interesting new products. Here’s what we found, organized by various food, nonfood and beverage categories as they were similarly designated during Private Label Week.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE Baxters — Globally inspired rice dishes Bringing flavors from around the world to the consumer’s home, Baxters North America introduced plant-based rice varieties in three exciting varieties: Indian Style Curry Brown Basmati with Lentils, Moroccan Style Brown Rice with Chickpeas, and Chimichurri Brown Rice with Quinoa. The meals, which come in microwavable pouches, feed health-minded consumers looking for clean foods they can feel good about.

Before the Butcher — Plant-based ground meat The San Diego-based company brought its own plant-based innovations to the virtual trade show, including a range of alternative ground meat substitutes that are available for private label. Flavors include chorizo, taco and Italian. The substitutes are pre-seasoned ground meat alternatives that come in 14-oz. bricks and thaw in just 5-7 minutes. The line is 100%

plant-based, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, non-GMO and made from a proprietary combination of soy, coconut and canola oils. Each serving carries 9 g of protein. Château Blanc — French butter brioche bread Bringing the bakery to the show, Château Blanc — a French industrial artisan of premium baked goods, macarons, pastries and croissants — introduced a traditional French brioche bread for private label. The bread is fully baked in a beautiful bakery brown paper. Consumers simply thaw and serve. The bread is made with 100% pure butter and the company has two recipes: a plain brioche or one with pearl sugar. C.H. Guenther & Son — Egg bites The San Antonio-based company has a range of desserts, soups, dips, appetizers and more, but its fluffy oven-baked homestyle egg bites stood out during the virtual event, helping to add to a frozen breakfast category that is up 16% and growing. Clint’s Salsa — Picante salsa San Antonio-based Clint’s has a premium salsa with a fresh, zesty, authentic Tex-Mex flavor, made with fresh ingredients. Unlike many other brands that depend on tomato paste and water as their base, Clint’s private brand salsa, as debuted at Private Label Week, has a 100% tomato base and doesn’t use water in the recipe. Flavors include medium, hot, mild, black bean and corn, and chipotle and roasted serrano. Dieffenbach’s — Kettle chips Third-generation, family-owned and operated, Dieffenbach’s in Womelsdorf, Pa., has been churning out its kettle potato chips, sweet potato chips and root vegetable chips. The kettle chips are thick cut and kettle cooked in one batch at a time until they reach a distinct crunch.

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March 2021

Store Brands


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PRIVATE LABEL WEEK COVERAGE Emilia Foods — Cauliflower fries The Italian frozen foods supplier, touching on a wide range of options, has joined the vegetable alternatives trend, introducing cauliflower fries that offer clean-label veggie fries that are easy to prepare in the oven. EMPWR — Protein snack bars Based in Belgium, the company showcased a line of functionalingredient snack bars that are high in protein and fiber, and low in sugar. The chocolate flavors offer a guilt-free alternative to indulgent snacking that help fuel the on-the-go lifestyle activity of today’s consumers. The Fremont Company — Sugar-free ketchup Fremont, Ohio-based ketchup expert The Fremont Company debuted its ketchup for private label that has zero added sugar at Private Label Week. The product was created to be a better-foryou version of the popular condiment but with the same high-quality taste. Fremont works with retailers to deliver the product with flexibility and focus for the retailer’s needs. Krüger North America — aluminum espresso capsules The Oak Park, Ill.based company is offering a line of majorbrand-compatible aluminum espresso capsules that offer the consumer a wide range of features, including being kosher and organic, as well as rain-forest alliance and UTZ compliant. “We produce a large variety of espresso, lungo and ristretto capsules, all in aluminum,” said Jennifer Lieberman, national accounts manager for Krüger. “With our aluminum packaging we offer the consumer a highquality, great tasting cup of espresso. In addition, our automated lines allow us to offer great efficiencies and competitive price points. For the retailer, they get the opportunity to offer their shoppers a product that will only enhance their own brand image and build sales and loyalty among consumers.” 14

Store Brands

March 2021

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Little Big Farms — Baking mixes The Portsmouth, N.H.-based company has roughly 62 SKUs in the baking mixes category, including pancake, scone and biscuit mixes. The focus, according to CEO Fern Phillips, is on clean labels and premium quality. “We really understand this category and can help retailers develop a strong private label image with it,” she said. “But we need the retailer to get involved too, mostly by creating a department that will get noticed by the consumer.” Maricota — Cheese bread Brazilian company Maricota has baked up cheese bread with hazelnut cream filling, a delicacy in its home country. The snack takes Maricota’s cheese bread and adds the hazelnut cream with cocoa filling. The breads are perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack. The packaged items are pre-baked and ready in 10 minutes. Maricota’s new product is available for private label in a variety of packaging sizes. The products are gluten-free.

Naturello — Plant-based dips Italian company Naturello added a line of vegetable-based salsas that it said can be eaten as a dip, on sandwiches and toast, or even as a side dish or with meat, fish and cheese. The line, sold under the Dippiû brand, includes Beet-

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PRIVATE LABEL WEEK COVERAGE root, Goat’s Cheese and Anchovy Dip; Grilled Pepper, Lime Juice and Chilli Dip; Carrot, Tomato Juice and Orange Dip; Mango and Pepper Dip; Caramelized Onion Dip; Pumpkin and Amaretti Crumb Dip; Lentil, Peanut, Anchovy and Mint Dip; and Basil, Lemon Zest and Pine Nut Dip. The company noted that the products are free of palm oil, preservatives, dyes and artificial flavors. Red Gold — Plant-based meat pasta sauce The tomato products leader has entered the plant-based arena with a new meat sauce that uses its vine-ripened tomatoes and a plantbased protein crumbled alternative to meat. The crumbles maintain a meaty texture and the sauce comes in two flavors: Italian sausage and bolognese. and development operation at our own facility that can help our customers develop their own customized products. It is not like one size fits all.” The company operates three manufacturing facilities and has about 400 employees. Besides a focus on unique raw materials that can help retailers with specific items, Wissotzky Group also places a big emphasis on packaging and design to help retailers grab the consumer’s attention at the point of purchase. Melki said that the company encourages the retail partner to get involved with the design of its packaging.


Renard’s Artisan Cheese — Cloverleaf Reserve The Door County, Wis.-based cheesemaker brought three new cheeses to the virtual event but its interesting Cloverleaf Reserve stood out as it’s a blend of Renard’s awardwinning bandaged style white cheddar blended with an alpine style gruyere cheese. It is aged for a sharp and savory flavor. Wissotzky Group — Tea Based in Israel, the company was formed in 1849 and has spent the last 170 years cultivating the art of tea blending. The result: A wide range of top-quality teas, as well as olive oils, olives and baked goods that has drawn the attention of retailers and consumers across the globe. “The best part of our operation is that we can create recipes and products according to requests,” said Schlomi Melki, marketing director — international division for the Tel Aviv-based company. “We have a strong research 16

Store Brands

March 2021

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Confitex — Period underclothing The New Zealand-based company is offering reusable, absorbent and leakproof period underwear for private label. Washable period underwear is an emerging high-growth category and Confitex said it has created the only patented 100% leakproof and absorbent textile technology that does not rely on a layer of PU plastic. Among the unique benefits to the customer are the comfortable, slimline gusset, the superior absorbency capacity (independently labverified to absorb the equivalent of 10-15 tampons), and the ability to safely tumble dry the underwear. Company officials contend period underwear addresses a range of target audiences and motivations — teenage girls ex-

3/15/21 11:26 AM

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Reynolds Presto Products — Print bags The company brought four new innovations to the virtual event, showcasing its 500 Million Plastic and Bio-Plastic includstraws are used in the USA every day. breadth of offerings, Fertin Pharma — ing plastic wrap, resealable Bio-Plastic straws are only Compostable in an Industrial Compost Facility which are limited in the USA. Caffeine gum bags, garbage bags and New to privatePlastic brands, a more, but Presto’s and Bio-Plastic straws are too small to“Fun pass through the recycling sorting machines. ready-to-license caffeine Print” bags were too cute to Most end up in landfills or in our Oceans, endangering wildlife. Plastics take up to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill and our precious chewing gum that delivers ignore. The storage bags are quick bursts of energy to ideal to make a kid’s lunch funRenewable or can be used for partyNo trees were har The BEST straw alternative is Bamboo paper straws made withmore Rapidly Resources. users looking for a boost. favors with holiday imagery, sporty imagery and more. The caffeine gum tablets were developed by Fertin Pharma, Denmark, and tre=e#, its subsidiary TabLabs. ....__"C ____ ...::c-.-..��.,..«:-=-� 50 � The gum has a rapid ef) Bamboo fect, delivering caffeine Bamboo Unwrapped Straws within 5-10 minutes. t treefreet1'­ grern·

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FI Manufacturing — Body and mesh sponges Body and facial sponges, mesh sponges and natural sponges, FI Manufacturing brought a wide range of sponges available for private brand development in a flexible range of colors and uses. The products span uses for adults and babies and joined a long list of household cloths and products from the Laredo, Texas-based company.

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True Green Paper Products — Paper products The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company has a broad range of Bamboo private label paper products in a number of categories, in- Wrapped Stra cluding bath and facial tissue, paper towels/napkins, hot and cold bamboo paper cups, and bamboo paper straws. AllBox of Straws Availa Juice the company’s products are tree-free, made from sugar cane or bamboo grass, which are renewable resources that are degradable and compostable. bamboo paper, a rapidly renewable IIUsing Marine Aerobic Disintegration Tested resource, the tree-free straws last longer than paper straws and help the enII Stronger than Paper with No Paper Taste vironment by eliminating the use of plastic straws. The straws USDA Certified 100% Bio-Based Product II BPI are certified, biodegradable, compostable and septic safe.

II Compatible with All Lids - Straws do not Splinter Xplorys — Reusable

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New to the market, Maistic — CompostaXplorys has introThebags very best of this generation, for duced generations to ble ice cube a reusable lid Danish company for wipes packages Phone: 844-Save-Trees Maistic focuses on via its baby products USDA CERTIFIED ways to replace plascompany Dooky. The True Green Enterprises, Inc . BIOBASED PRODUCT tic,PRODUCT developing packlids can be sold under 100% Raton, USAto coincide with own brand aging and household a retailer’sBoca private labelFLline � goods that are comwipes packs for disinfecting or baby wipes packages. postable or plasticThe product solves two issues: First, for packages that are free like sponges and sold with a lid already attached, the lid is more sustainable as cloths. During Priit can be removed and allow the wipes package to be recycled; vate Label Week, the company also unveiled a compostable secondly, for packages without a lid in place, and just a seal ice cube bag. The company said it’s the first of its kind to be opening, the lid can keep wipes from drying out from a seal patented and introduced. that loses its stickiness. SB

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March 2021

Store Brands



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USERGENERATED CONTENT BRINGS PRIVATE BRANDS TO LIFE ONLINE Suzin Wold, senior vice president of marketing, Bazaarvoice


s COVID-19 shuttered physical stores in early 2020, e-commerce became not only a necessity, but second nature. In lieu of visiting physical stores, shoppers now are scrolling through online brand and retail websites alongside their social media feeds. Shopping also is easier than ever before, as everything can now be purchased from the couch. In fact, a third of shoppers said they buy something online at least once a week, and 9% said they’re buying online daily. At the same time, private brands are accelerating in consumer homes. Bazaarvoice recently published a study that found private brands aren’t being purchased just because they save a shopper money, they’re being purchased because they’re preferred. But while online shopping may be more convenient, there is still something to be said about browsing the shelves at a brick-and-mortar store and being able to physically touch and see products in real life. To replicate that


Store Brands

March 2021

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in-store experience and inspire online consumers’ confidence, user-generated content, or UGC, is more important than ever. In fact, in the Bazaarvoice client network of more than 11,500 brands — of which 1,750 are retailers — we saw a 44% year-over-year increase of customer reviews submitted in 2020. And while it’s widely agreed upon that written reviews are important, visual content is entering the spotlight. Two-thirds of shoppers we surveyed said that photos from previous shoppers is important to them when deciding to purchase online. We wanted to learn more about the impact of visual and social UGC on shoppers’ buying journeys, so we conducted a survey of over 8,000 consumers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. Here’s what we found: SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT — AND BUY IT According to our survey, 66% of shoppers find the availability of photos from previous shoppers important when deciding to purchase online. In fact, 62% of shoppers now say they

are more likely to buy a product if they can view customer videos and photos. This is likely due to the fact that the more authentic shoppers think visual content is, the more confident they become in their purchases. What is more authentic than a photo of a product being used or worn by someone just like you? Shoppers no longer want to see bland, stagnant, unrealistic pictures of models from professional photo shoots on the product page. Almost 75% of respondents say that they prefer seeing customers’ photos and videos on online stores over professional imagery. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PRIVATE LABEL? According to our annual survey for our Shopper Experience Index, two-thirds of shoppers think that store brands are just as high quality as name brands, and another third ranked private label higher in quality than name brands. In fact, in the past year, 55% of shoppers have made a private label purchase. While 53% of shoppers intentionally purchased private label products in the past year, the availability of private label products has also played a role in addressing global product shortages due to COVID-19. About 60% of shoppers report product shortages during the pandemic, most commonly for grocery and cleaning supplies. And more than a third (39%) of consumers purchased from different brands during pandemic shutdowns. All of this points to the fact that private labels are in a prime position to increase market share right now. To do so, they must utilize the voice of the consumer by allowing customers to provide photos and videos of themselves using their brand’s product, which amplifies a brand’s most influential advocates. And by spreading that content far and wide, on product pages and throughout social media (over half of consumers say they shop on social media!), a private label can make the most out of those resounding recommendations. SB

3/15/21 8:55 PM




n October of last year, the Kwik Chek chain of convenience stores began a full rebrand of its 47 locations under a new look and name — Texas Born, or TXB. The change was to better reflect the company’s Texas roots, emphasizing locally sourced merchandise, Texas flavors in foodservice, and delivering a bolder look. Store Brands talked with Brandon Frampton, TXB’s vice president of foodservice operations, to learn more.

STORE BRANDS: HOW DID THE REBRANDING COME ABOUT? BRANDON FRAMPTON: We rebranded the company to emphasize our Texan roots and values that the brand was built upon — authenticity, hospitality and integrity. The company is genuinely “Texas Born,” as we are not only based in the Lone Star State but we also source local products at every opportunity we get, including our meats, tortillas, fruits, vegetables and much more. SB: How far along is the company in the rebranding process? BF: Construction on two new newto-industry stores kicked off at the end of 2020 in Georgetown and Bee Cave, Texas, with a third location in Cottonwood Shores, Texas, soon to follow. We’re very excited to open the first original brick-and-mortar TXB location in Georgetown in April 2021. The new branding has a very clean, sleek look and has already begun to show up in all of our existing stores, from our TXB menu boards (print and digital) and cappuccino machines to promotional signage, TXB fountain cups and more. SB: What can we expect to see from the private label packaged products? BF: Our private label products for TXB

are something I am deeply passionate about. The packaging alone is clean, visionary and really drives home the extraordinary quality of TXB-branded products. We have worked hard to source our private label items from Texas-based companies, including our jerky, bottled water, and coffee, with even more to come. These items were carefully crafted to provide our guests delicious, on-the-go snacks and beverages that are appealing on the shelf and appealing to taste buds. Our goal is to be the best, coolest convenience store chain in the country, and I believe our private label line will push us in that direction.

SB: How will the private label program be different than what was offered at Kwik Chek? BF: We will revolutionize foodservice portability and packaging in the convenience channel. The transformation of our vessel quality for water bottles, fountain cups and grab-and-go food containers make our packaging more presentable, portable, and easy to carry. At TXB, our mission remains as “Leave ‘em Better,” and by improving our guest experience with our TXB private label items, we do just that. Packaging and presentation for to-go meals will be functional, allowing the food to be easily eaten on the go or anywhere, as some TXB packaging can now easily fit in cup holders, hold your dipping sauces and are sturdy enough to eat right out of the box, as opposed to your food being thrown in a paper or plastic sack. In terms of overall quality, I like to say Kwik Chek was 2.0, but TXB is 5.0. SB: What’s on tap with TXB food items? BF: We have a lot of amazing food offerings in the works, including our new Texas Scorpion Bites, made with classic southern ingredients like juicy fish, perfectly fried shrimp and spicy jalapenos. We’ve also developed a TXB Habanero Queso that is coming soon to all TXB stores. We are stepping it up from traditional c-store foods and focusing on fresh, made-from-scratch offerings that are restaurant quality. For example, our steak strips are grilled daily, and we offer other fresh items like jumbo marinated tenders, blanched vegetables, and our signature handmade salsa, to name a few. SB: What are you looking for from a supplier partner? BF: We look for Texas-based companies that offer authentic products that are unique to Texas to further emphasize our loyalty to our Texan roots. SB

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VS Health has been actively promoting its own brands as of late, recently launching a first-ever customer favorites awards program called “Best of Our Brands,” where customers voted across 13 categories for their favorite Gold Emblem, GSQ by Glamsquad, Live Better brands and many others. The retailer has also been leveraging its digital tools to get its private brands front and center. Brenda Lord, vice president of private brands and quality assurance for the drug chain, spoke with Store Brands about its complete portfolio of own brands and the acceleration of e-commerce.

STORE BRANDS: DESCRIBE HOW CVS HAS LEANED INTO ITS STORE BRANDS DURING THE PANDEMIC, AND HOW DIGITAL HAS BEEN PLAYING A ROLE? BRENDA LORD: Since the pandemic hit, we have witnessed changes in consumer shopping habits across the board — not just in store brands but really in how our customers are engaging in general. That’s driven innovations and changes within our daily operations to improve services and meet our customers where they are. Since March, the demand for home delivery and retail prescription home delivery has surged. In fact, from the start of the pandemic through the end of 2020, our business grew to five times our typical volume, or the equivalent of 63 Black Fridays in a row. We mobilized quickly to meet customer demand by extending free prescription delivery and by adding same-day delivery support for select essential front store products and a variety of items from our exclusive store brands. 20

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SB: How do private brands benefit from the advanced digital tools? BL: Exclusive offers of our store brands are often available in savings events throughout the year, including BOGO Free, BOGO 50% and ExtraBucks Rewards on qualified purchases. These events and savings increase awareness of the brands, create value and oftentimes lead to brand adoption due to the affordability and accessibility they offer. In fact, we’re really excited about an upcoming promotion this month that’ll offer our customers a 30% off promotion on select store brand products including digestive health, fitness, home healthcare, snack and grocery, facial care and more. The offer can be conveniently accessed either through the mobile app or through the customer’s ExtraCare card. SB: Are sales up for private label online? BL: While we can’t comment on specific sales figures, we can say that our exclusive store brand products contin-

ue to play a major role in the shopping journey as health, wellness and beauty continue to be top of mind for many consumers. More than ever, consumers are spending a great deal of time at home and seeking new products to integrate into their daily routines. In addition to providing quality, innovative and on-trend products at a value, we’ve also made it easier than ever to access our store brands products. We’ve given them greater visibility through digital enhancements, like custom brand shops and dedicated landing pages online and in the app, where we’re able to help our customers discover new products from our store brands lines, from the convenience of home. In fact, we’ve launched a new digital page on that spotlights all of our store brands in one convenient place. SB: What categories are seeing the biggest increases in digital orders and delivery? BL: As digital orders and home delivery have grown, our customers have certainly been looking for more snack and grocery options to both satisfy cravings and stick to their unique dietary preferences and needs. Proactive health care has also been an area that we’ve seen our customers get excited about, especially in store brands, which includes everything from sleep solutions to vitamins and supplements. SB: What’s new from CVS and its private brands such as Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem abound products, any private brand online exclusives? BL: Within our exclusive Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem abound lines, we recently launched more than a dozen new pre-made “Fast Favorites” meal solutions for those seeking access to convenient, quick and tasteful meals. I’ve found these to be especially helpful while working from home, and to give to college students for busy days! The expanded assortment is available across more than 3,700 stores

3/15/21 9:01 PM

For example, our bamboo toothbrush is made of Moso bamboo, which is not part of a panda’s diet. We’ve also expanded delivery methods for immunity. In Live Better, we’ve taken our very popular elderberry immunity products into liquid drops which are easy to add to water or tea and are a great alternative to taking a vitamin or supplement in pill form. We also offer elderberry in formats like drink packets, gummies and chewable tablets, which are also great for on-the-go use and for people that are tired of traditional tablets or capsules. nationwide as well as on including chickpea curry, penne basil pesto, pad thai, roasted red pepper quinoa and more. We’ve also recently added more than 30 new better-foryou snack and pantry staples within those lines including unique flavor combinations and products like spreadable honey, chili lime mango and sesame tahini cashews. Expanding healthier food offerings is the latest example of our vision to be a premier health-and-wellness destination, helping to make healthier choices easier for millions of customers. In 2020, we introduced new on-trend displays in select stores nationwide to help make it easier for customers to find their favorite indulgences that are better-for-you, such as a “fuel up and go” display and a “Snack Scene $1 $2 $3” display, offering an assortment of flavorful choices, comfort staples, and ontrend ingredients from national and niche brands as well as CVS’ exclusive snack and grocery lines. The assortments include exciting finds with enticing flavor combinations such as Korean BBQ, Coconut Lime, Kale & Potato, Chai Latte and more. SB: Last year saw the Live Better brand get a restyling, what’s new there? BL: We launched more than 80 new

“From the start of the pandemic through the end of 2020, our business grew to five times our typical volume, or the equivalent of 63 Black Fridays in a row.” products within the line in 2020 spanning products like vitamins and supplements, digestive health, oral care, sun care, baby care and more. We identified and created products inspired by some of the most soughtafter ingredients in the wellness space like ashwagandha, turmeric and saw palmetto. This brand — paired with the convenience and value of shopping at CVS — is making those trends more accessible to everyone. We have lifted the veil on how our ingredients are sourced on our packaging — which is at least 80% recyclable. One of my favorite aspects of the brand is its commitment to transparency and sustainability, which comes to life through the rich origin stories that are available for some products (either online or on the packaging).

SB: What about the other brands? BL: The legacy of our store brand portfolio is the CVS Health brand, which includes more than 2,500 products across 19 categories. These products underscore our commitment to quality, safety and trust, offering affordable alternatives to other national brands, as well as unique solutions to different healthcare needs. We have a heritage of giving our customers access to high-quality healthcare products at a good value. This past year, we added 50 new products and entered new categories including a new weighted blanket, and I love our contoured black out eye mask, both are non-OTC solutions to help deal with anxiety and get some quality sleep. In beauty, I’m proud of our collaboration on the GSQ by Glamsquad brand. This truly is a brand created by a community of beauty experts. GSQ has won several awards from beauty editors and industry experts and I am so excited about the latest expansion of hair accessories. The trendy hair clips are my personal favorite. This is a prestige-like brand at an incredible value. Along with these new additions, we are thrilled for the launches we have planned for 2021 and can’t wait to share more details with consumers from a health, beauty and grocery standpoint. SB

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March 2021


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Private label snack nuts, seeds and corn nuts sales were up

Snack Time! It seems as though consumers stuck at home during prime pandemic months couldn’t help but fill their time snacking. From pretzels to potato chips to nuts, consumers were tearing into bags of snacks, driving unprecedented growth in the category. In fact, in July of last year, CVS Pharmacy had Harris Poll conduct a survey that showed 66% of respondents were snacking more at home, propelling the retailer to build out its Gold Emblem and Gold Emblem abound private brands in snacks. One area where they focused were healthier snack options. The survey showed that nearly 60% of respondents were eating better-foryou snacks. In news that could benefit own brands, 9 in 10 survey respondents were buying these snacks based on affordability. Snack Innovations, a supplier based in Piscataway, N.J., knows the trend well, having rolled out innovative snacks to the private brand sector. The company’s Birthday Cake Drizzled Kettle Corn and Sweet & Salty Turmeric Kettle Corn were among Store Brands Editors’ Picks winners last year. The birthday-cake flavoring is non-GMO, dairy free, and is free of allergens. It also uses fruit- and vegetable-colored sprinkles to keep the popcorn to 140 calories per serving. On the savory side, turmeric is a functional ingredient. In the nuts category, Select Harvest, a grower and shipper of California almonds, launched its Monk Crunch almonds for private label in July, a better-for-you snack that uses monk fruit as the sweetener versus traditional sugar. The snack slides right into the keto diet and the popcorn satisfies the indulgent craving without giving up on the healthy qualities. 22

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in dollar growth year over year ending Dec. 27, 2020.


Fruit snack sales were up

and pretzels were up 9% in dollar sales, respectively, through Feb. 2020, so even before peak pandemic, snacks were rising.


For the 34 weeks ended Oct. 24, 2020, pretzels were up

year over year in dollar sales, amassing nearly $755 million during that time, compared with $996 million in all of 2019.



in sales, refrigerated snacks ranked as the sixth-highest growing category in 2020 — and tops among foods — ranking just behind home health, liquid hand soaps, disinfectant cleaners, moist towelettes and household cleaner wipes. — C ATA L I N A

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onsumer demand is pent up and it will be unleashed when this is over,” Nada Sanders, professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University, said during her keynote presentation at last month’s PLMA Live! Presents Private Label Week. Sanders was addressing a new supply chain dilemma that, by her calculations, retailers and suppliers could be facing as early as this summer. It is a post-pandemic boom of shoppers looking to hit stores and feel closer to normal again. It is a vision of shoppers hungry to explore, discover and shop like it’s 2019 again. If that were to happen, Sanders said retailers could face another supply chain under duress, and she cautioned merchants to begin monitoring product lead times. She said to create a matrix, sorting by customers, products and suppliers and organize them based on importance and vulnerability. Sanders stressed that retailers and suppliers are in a tough position. The primary goal is to stay financially afloat and make it to the summer recovery, while also maintaining their current market position. In the meantime, she suggested retailers quickly find alternative sources of supply, as well as gear assortments toward what shoppers are looking for — multipacks, onthe-go products and comfort goods. She also suggested for companies to hire a futurist — a person who can help their organization think differently about the months ahead and how consumers might behave coming out of a pandemic. She said a futurist will be able to identify emotional needs and buying patterns and tap into the factors consumers cannot articulate themselves. The insights could lead to timely product development and help them understand historical shopping data that does not apply to this unprecedented situation.


Jeff Pepperworth, president and CEO of iGPS Logistics, said that one continuing trend to come out of the pandemic will be the rise in online shopping. “Brick-and-mortar will be seen more as a way to get out of the house, and less of a destination for a shopping experience,” he said. 24

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March 2021


Retailers accelerated how they use online over the last year, a trend Pepperworth does not see changing any time soon. “Retailers now have the ability to get new items online in as few as 24 hours, and this will impact how they determine min/max carrying levels at brick-and-mortar sites,” he said. Pepperworth cited club stores as an example of realizing huge increases in online spending and curbside pickup. This month, digitally enabled sales at BJ’s Wholesale Club jumped 168% in its quarter ended Jan. 30, whereas physical stores showed comparable-store growth of 13%. Costco reported digital sales increased more than 80% during its second quarter ended Feb. 14 while same-store sales were up 12.6%. Subodha Kumar, professor of marketing and supply chain management at Temple University, agreed that retailers need to be prepared for online shopping to remain a regular habit. During the peak pandemic, he said a large percentage of customers over the age of 60 went online, and 41% of U.S. consumers bought groceries online for the first time. If a boom were to occur in the summer months, Pepperworth said the market could see heavy discounting to move product both online and in stores. “Seasonality is now disrupted across many retailers, and with the ports still backed up, there is a lot of merchandise that will be temporarily unavailable but will later flood the market,” he added. Like many supply chain and logistics companies helping retailers and suppliers manage these supply chain shifts, iGPS maintains constant communication with its clients. “We work directly with our manufacturing customers and have full visibility into their demand needs, which enables us to help them scale in real-time to meet the evolving demands of retail stores and consumers,” Pepperworth said. “Being able to ensure that the right products, in the right quantities, are quickly available online and in brick-and-mortar stores has made us a very vital component of the supply chain.” Kumar said retailers need to rethink supply chain strategies and push more toward technologies like Blockchain that can improve the speed of information sharing, visibility and security. “We will also see more use of 3-D printing and related technologies, because such technologies can reduce reliance on suppliers in case of any emergencies,” he noted. SB

3/15/21 11:35 AM

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3/15/21 11:48 AM








ow are private label sales faring? Most say that the category has done quite well over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and some add that that momentum should continue well beyond the hopeful end of the crisis. But, individual categories have different track records over the last year. For example, the frozen foods segment realized its highest sales levels in years thanks to a dramatic decline in in-restaurant dining. Bakery foods, on the other hand, declined on the year, likely due to bakery departments closing during key pandemic months and shoppers not being comfortable buying unpackaged items. After talking with retailers, studying quarterly reports and getting exclusive insights from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, Store Brands has identified the highest-performing food and nonfood categories to break out during the pandemic. Perhaps not surprisingly by now, many categories that are driving private label are part of the “stay-at-home

26 26

lifestyle,” as described by Pam Ofri, director of product development and operations for own brands at Wakefern Food, which saw its biggest category increases in breakfast foods, frozen foods and anything to help shoppers cooking at home. In nonfoods, what IRI classified as nonedible private brands, annual sales picked up for categories reflecting the home (paper towels, toilet tissue, paper cups and plates) and hygiene, like hair care and the shaving category — possibly driven by consumers concerned with how they looked on Zoom. Bill Smith, director of Our Brands for Buffalo-based Tops Friendly Markets, said all of the retailer’s private label categories were in the black in 2020. “The household categories clearly saw record increases,” he said. “Other bright spots were baking and pantry style items as well as some great results in perimeter fresh departments. These categories rose to the top due to restaurant restrictions, curfews, consumer anxiety, and remote working/schooling which increased at-home eating habits.” Tops launched more than 200 new store brand items last year, despite COVID-19, and the unit sales of its Our Brands were “strong double digits over prior year,” he said. Ofri said Wakefern’s new products augmented the breadth of its Bowl & Basket and Paperbird lines that were introduced at the tail end of 2019. “We have been gradually launching additional categories over time,” she said. “However, our sales and private label unit penetration have increased, so we are performing ahead of schedule.” The largest chains also reported big 2020 results. Kroger, for example, reported in February that its Our Brands division had its “best year ever,” per comments from chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen delivered during the company’s most recent earnings call. He reported that private label sales at Kroger exceeded $26.2 billion in sales last year. Simple Truth — a cross-category brand — surpassed $3 billion in annual sales.

Store Store Brands Brandsl lMarch March2021 2021l

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36%, and private label frozen appetizers grew by 32%.

cheese hit record highs in 2020, up nearly 5% year over year, adding to a near-8% growth in Italian sales and 10.7% sales growth in other countries. The organization said 3.94 million wheels of cheese were produced in 2020, and the U.S. market saw roughly 2% growth in exports. It makes up 20% of the consortium’s overall exports.


Albertsons recorded 25% own brand penetration in its most recent quarter, and Target reported in its fourth quarter financials that four of its private brands — Cat & Jack, Up & Up, Threshold and Good & Gather — earned more than $2 billion in sales. The mass retailer has more than 30 own brands, and 10 of them generated more than $1 billion in sales. From smaller retailers to larger ones, life is good in the private label department. Here’s a closer look at some of the strongest categories.


According to the “Power of Frozen 2021” report from the American Frozen Food Institute and FMI - The Food Industry Association, frozen food sales grew in dollars (up 21%) and units (up 13.3%) with nearly all types of frozen foods seeing double-digit sales increases. “Frozen foods are a pandemic powerhouse, ringing in $65.1 billion in retail sales in 2020,” said Alison Bodor, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based AFFI. IRI’s president of strategic analytics Krishnakumar “KK” Davey said within private label foods, frozen foods had the strongest gains, increasing sales by 32% over the prior year. Private label refrigerated foods were up 23%. He said the frozen seafood category, in particular, took off. IRI showed that private label frozen seafood increased in dollar growth year over year by 41%. Also impressive, private label frozen and refrigerated processed poultry was up 37%, private label frozen soups and sides increased

Davey said private label grew in categories that had a strong presence in food stores and natural cheese was right there, along with frozen seafood. In dollar growth, the private label natural cheese category grew 22% in 2020, per IRI. The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium, based in Italy, reported that production of Parmigiano-Reggiano


Other categories that stood out in the IRI report among edible private


Total Store Growth Private brands


National brands


Edibles Private brands


National brands


Nonedibles Private brands


National brands 8% SO U RC E : I R I , Y E A R E N D I N G D EC . 2 7, M U LO, U S TOTA L S TO R E


Baby food



Ham (refrigerated)



Egg substitutes (shelf stable)



Salad dressing (refrigerated)



Powdered milk






Pickles/relish (refrigerated)



Asian food



Fruit, vegetable preservative/pectin


Pizza products



SO U RC E : I R I , Y E A R E N D I N G D EC . 2 7, 2 02 0, M U LO, U S TOTA L S TO RE

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March 2021

Store Brands


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COVER STORY brands listings all had to do with heavy activity in the kitchen: • spices and seasonings saw a 32% year over year increase in dollar growth; • sugar saw a 20% increase in dollar growth; • shelf-stable vegetables grew by 20% in sales; • flour and meal saw sales increase by 31%; • and bread crumbs and batters increased by 30%. While not the powerhouse categories within food, some smaller private label categories had noteworthy gains in 2020, according to IRI, including frozen baby food, which soared 659% in dollar growth; ham’s 467% year-overyear dollar growth; and shelf-stable egg substitutes, which jumped 289%.


The high demand in supplyconstrained categories like toilet tissue and household cleaners stood out in nonedible private label growth, Davey said. This is not surprising given the media coverage of shoppers hoarding toilet paper early on in the pandemic. In sales growth, private label toilet tissue grew 24%, per IRI, and private label paper towels grew 26%. However, some unusual growth in other private label categories cemented what life was like in lockdown, like a need for shaving lotion and men’s fragrances, up 170%; personal thermometers, up 87%; and hair conditioner, up 69%. And to keep the house smelling right, private label candles were up 48%. Household cleaners also drove private label sales, with sales climbing 44%, while household cloths were up 58% year over year. Other items like bleach saw a jump in sales by 38%, and sponges and scouring pads were up 36%. According to IRI, consumers spent a greater share of their budget on private brands in 2020, and the category success backs that up. IRI said nearly $1 out of $5 went to store brands, and store brand sales growth modestly outpaced name brands in 2020, up 13% compared with 12% for name brands. 28

Store Brands


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1] 2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8] 9] 1 0]

1] 2] 3] 4] 5] 6] 7] 8] 9] 1 0]

Natural cheese Frozen seafood Milk Meat Fresh eggs Bottled water Spices/seasonings Poultry Breakfast meats Frozen vegetables

Toilet tissue Cups and plates Paper towels Vitamins Food and trash bags Pet supplies Cold/allergy/sinus Gastrointestinal tablets Internal analgesics Pet food

S O U RC E : I R I , Y E A R E N D I N G D EC . 2 7, 2 02 0, M U LO, U S TOTA L S TO R E

PRIVATE LABEL AS A WHOLE Looking at the big picture, private label slightly underperformed expectations, according to Krishnakumar “KK” Davey, president of strategic analytics at IRI. Davey looked back at a study put out in May 2020 from the Chicagobased analysts that predicted private brands would grow by $20 billion in 2020, but his numbers show it grew about $16 billion, an increase of 0.6 share points versus 0.2 a year ago. Nevertheless, it is growth, and Davey said it was driven from a very robust first half of the pandemic, when out of stocks were high. Those early months generated a 0.5 gain and then things stabilized. “I mean, people just came to stores and grabbed whatever they could, particularly in those critical months of March and April,” he said. “Many categories went out of stock — given that just-in-time inventory that we had all honed over decades.” Pam Ofri, director of product development and operations for own brands at Wakefern Food, agrees that the supply chain broke down. “As a result, consumers changed their buying patterns to purchase what was on-shelf vs. what brands they were previously loyal to,” she said. “This supported own brand sales as new consumers were incentivized to buy what was in-stock, and it also introduced and converted consumers to our new brands.” Bill Smith, director of Our Brands, Tops Friendly Markets, saw the same results. “During the beginning of the pandemic, national brands had many supply issues. During that same time, Our Brands had strong in-stock position, increased presence in our weekly ad, and strong instore merchandising,” he said. “The combination of these three gave us

3/16/21 10:30 AM



Shaving lotion/mens fragrance



Personal thermometers



Hair conditioner



Baby gifts/toys/furniture



Household cleaner cloths



Home health care/kits






Household cleaner





Cosmetics – lip




the opportunity to showcase Our Brand’s quality and value that drove trial, repeat purchase and loyalty.” While IRI saw less growth than anticipated for store brands, Davey believes store brands are going to grow — and faster — driven mostly by the leading mass and grocery retailers. He noted that Target, Kroger, Albertsons, Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, all were dominant and have changed the culture and appearance of what it means to be a private brand. Wakefern, H-E-B, Trader Joe’s, and others are among the smaller-footprint retailers changing the culture of private label, but Davey said most of the growth in the industry is coming from those major players, according to their panel data. “As we stabilize, I think private label will just continue where it left off,” he said. “Large manufacturers are still losing a little bit of share to private label, losing share in the last quarter and quarter or two. And the reason is simple, right? I think private label is becoming smarter. It’s positioning on the premium end of the spectrum, the value end of the spectrum, sustainability, self-care, society care, all of those dimensions.” IRI also had a recent study show that private label, combined with smaller challenger brands, are moving in on large nationals. In 2020, the consumer goods industry as a whole grew 10.3%, with smaller manufacturers (including companies with annual measured channel sales of less than $1 billion) collectively capturing a third of that growth and private brand products accounted for 18% of that growth. Combined, challenger brands and private brands captured 34.1% of total CPG growth last year. Though large national brands lost market share in each

“I think private label is becoming smarter. It’s positioning on the premium end of the spectrum, the value end of the spectrum, sustainability, self-care, society care, all of those dimensions.” — KK Davey, president of strategic analytics, IRI of the last five years, they still account for 46.7% of total U.S. sales in measured channels, per IRI. Davey believes part of this inching into national brands is that private label has captured premiumization. A November IRI study found that consumers were looking to find joy from premium products while at home during the pandemic, and it opened a door for private brands to offer premium items at a lower price. He cited Kroger’s CEO Rodney McMullen: “In many categories like cheese, beer, and wine and alcohol, shoppers have upgraded in terms of the quality of what they’re buying,” he said. “Customers are splurging because they’re starting to understand the difference in the quality of things. We believe that’s something that will stay forever. Once you have an incredible cheese, you kind of get spoiled and it’s hard to go back to what you had before.” —Dan Ochwat

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rian Sharoff always managed to stand apart from the crowd. As the president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association for roughly 40 years, Sharoff was a driving force behind the rise of the private label industry. Serving as a voice for the over30

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all store brands industry as well as someone who called for dramatic changes to the way products were manufactured, packaged and marketed, Sharoff was an advocate for improving the image of the category. As we all know, Brian passed away after a short illness last May.

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You can’t label greatness. Massimo Zanetti Beverage honors the contributions of

Brian Sharoff.

As a leader, his legacy will continue.

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This year, the committee who selects the annual entrants into the Private Label Hall of Fame made the correct decision to induct Brian, and only Brian, this year. To honor and celebrate Sharoff, Store Brands asked key industry officials, as well as PLMA colleagues, to reminisce about Sharoff. Here is what they had to say:

Anthony Aloia, corporate vice president, PLMA From its inception in 2006 it was inevitable the day would come when the Private Label Hall of Fame would welcome the induction of Brian Sharoff, the man known to the industry throughout the world as Mr. Private Label. His induction so soon after his passing, and as this year’s only honoree is, I believe, most appropriate. Brian’s powerful vision and leadership, often displayed through wit and humor, took a fledgling industry and association in 1980 and built it into a worldwide trade organization 32

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Whether meeting in his office, in a conference room, or the PLMA booth in Chicago, he inspired members and retailers alike to innovate and then share the experiences of their successful private label programs. — ANTHONY ALOIA, PLMA

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Store Brand Magazine Ad 2021.pdf



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Perrigo Company is dedicated to making lives better by bringing Quality, Affordable Self-Care Productsª that consumers trust everywhere they are sold. The Company is a leading provider of over-the-counter health and wellness solutions that enhance individual well-being by empowering consumers to proactively prevent or treat conditions that can be self-managed.

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characterized by the growth and influence of its members and their retail partners. His accomplishments will be felt by generations of consumers to come, and for the many fortunate to know him personally and professionally, his influence will endure a lifetime. There are so many reasons Brian had an outsized impact on the industry and the people he encountered. One less heralded was his thirst for learning and teaching. Whether behind the podium teaching private label history at PLMA’s Executive Education Program in Philadelphia or lecturing on private label around the world to eager suppliers in Athens, he truly enjoyed talking about store brands. Spreading the good news about store brands was a passion. Brian spearheaded the launch of PLMA’s video news channel PLMA Live!, and later, to provide information and insights as directly and as widely as possible to all who are involved in the industry. The creation of PLMA’s Idea Supermarket at the trade shows here and abroad taught the industry to learn from itself by displaying the year’s best product ideation, merchandising and packaging ideas. Whether meeting in his office, in a conference room, or the PLMA booth in Chicago, he inspired members and retailers alike to innovate and then share the experiences of their successful private label programs. His love of travel and discovering new foods and cultures were sources for much of his inspiration. Sharing a table with Brian over Lebanese Tabbouleh or Chinese Dim Sum or Kansas City BBQ ribs was just as often an education itself to dispel pre-conceived biases consumers might have about more exotic fare. Brian Sharoff’s most unshakable conviction was that innovative, high-quality products are the keys to private label success, and that store brand manufacturers are able to innovate quicker and better than their branded counterparts.

Tim Simmons, former vice president of communications, PLMA and former editor-in-chief, Supermarket News It’s obvious that Brian Sharoff had an enormous impact on private label, retailing, trade associations, and the hundreds of people he knew and worked with. The big question is: what made him so special? One answer is that Brian was a visionary. He was always looking five, 10, sometimes 20 years ahead for new opportunities. In the 1980s, he was way ahead of his time in recognizing the importance of constantly communicating the message to the media and retailers that quality products, packaging and innovation were crucial to the success of private label. Brian was perhaps the only person who saw the potential for a European trade show for private label. The result: PLMA’s World of Private Label is now the world’s largest private label show. Nearly two decades ago, Brian foresaw the potential of video stream34

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With Brian at its helm, PLMA went from a small trade group to an international dynamo. — MARK KRAKAUER, PRIVATE LABEL HALL OF FAME MEMBER

ing and built the in-depth PLMA Live! programming that today is the envy of other trade associations. Another key to Brian’s success was that he had the personality of an entrepreneur. He had little interest in organizational flowcharts, but was intensely interested in people. He was very loyal to the people who worked with him and that loyalty was happily reciprocated. Brian’s entrepreneurial personality was a perfect match for the scrappy small businesses that play such a large role in supplying private label products. And, lastly, Brian had a real appreciation for the various constituencies within the PLMA membership; whether they were big or small, food or nonfood, or located in different regions. Brian started out his career as legislator representing a polyglot Brooklyn neighborhood full of people from around the world. He understood how important it was to listen to each group and try to meet their diverse needs. This communication skill proved invaluable in building a cohesive trade association. It’s not often that someone comes along who is a visionary, an entrepreneur and a great communicator. That’s what made Brian so special.

Clay Dockery, CEO, Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA Leadership. Vision. Compassion. There are many attributes to describe Brian Sharoff, but these three always stood out to me. His leadership was evident in the constant engagement that he had with all stakeholders in the private label industry. His staff was extremely loyal to him and he was extremely loyal to his staff. From Brian’s appointment as president to his passing, the private label industry underwent dramatic changes. Brian not only kept up with the torrid pace of change, but he had the uncanny ability to see what was around the corner. He was always willing to explore and invest in what he saw coming, but with recognition that it had to benefit the membership of the association. It is not an overstatement to say that PLMA was an ex-

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tension of Brian’s family. His stewardship of the association was exceptional. Brian’s wit and intellect is sorely missed.

Private Label Hall of Fame member Mark Husson, research analyst, Cedar Rock Capital and former retailer, Marks & Spencer and Tesco PLC My recollection of Brian is of a man who absorbed information like a sponge. He was especially interested in what was happening in markets outside of the United States and that attitude drove private label marketers to such successes elsewhere. He was convinced that the destiny of U.S. private brands was to take share, but he knew that this was only going to happen if producers focused on improving product’s relative quality and performance. At the same time, he was drumming into people the need to switch from a production mindset to one that was marketing-driven with the consumer at the center. All the evidence points to his success in this endeavor. He was quite a guy.

Private Label Hall of Fame member Mark Krakauer, president, MWK Marketing and first member broker of PLMA I first met Brian Sharoff when we were in the first grade. In the fourth grade, our families moved to different parts of Brooklyn. I met Brian again when we were in high school and both enrolled in a private driver’s education program. The next time I saw him he was appearing on television as a New York State Assemblyman. In 1981 I received a phone call: “Hello, Mark. I see you’re a PLMA member. Well I just became president of PLMA.” That phone call was the beginning of a beautiful personal and professional relationship. With Brian at its helm, PLMA went from a small trade group to an international dynamo. His management style encouraged the active participation of all classes of members, which wasn’t always the case prior to Brian. He held the unshakable conviction that private label was first and foremost a benefit to consumers, and so he firmly supported any aspect of private label. That conviction not only benefitted consumers, it also grew private label from both a financial and a product assortment perspective. Innovation was key to Brian’s success as well as PLMA member manufacturers’ successes. Often at first Brian could appear to be negative but he always reevaluated, and many times came up super-positive, a champion of new ideas, and private label gained from this. Brian and I had planned for several years a Brooklyn Grand Tour with fellow Brooklyn natives, which sadly now will not happen. Also, I am never going to get back the 25 cents Brian always insisted I had lent him in the fourth grade. Plus, we never resolved the Peter Luger’s steakhouse issue: Which is better? Brooklyn or Great Neck?

Any conversation I had with Brian ended with my feeling more energized, informed and better prepared to face the challenges ahead. He will be missed. — NEIL STERN, GOOD FOOD HOLDINGS

Neil Stern, CEO, Good Food Holdings and former senior partner, Ebeltoft Group, McMillan Doolittle Brian had a towering intellect and the impeccable timing of a Vaudeville comedian. He commanded a room and his outsized impact on the private label industry and retail in general is undeniable. But I would also be remiss not to mention that he didn’t suffer fools lightly. I have had the great opportunity to be on the faculty of PLMA Executive Education programs for over a decade as well as a frequent speaker at PLMA events. My small task: describe the state of the overall retail industry, consumer changes, trends in the retail industry and what will happen moving forward. And of course, provide a global angle as well. I always had the sense (who am I kidding, I knew) that Brian was more of an expert on these very issues than I was. But I had better slides! We had great discussions and arguments

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on where the industry was headed, and Brian, not surprisingly had a wealth of knowledge that was unmatched from a global perspective. My favorite recurring argument was on the subject of millennials. Inevitably, an unsuspecting speaker at a PLMA event would make a throwaway comment on the “importance” of the millennial customer. Brian would be ready to pounce. Why are they a more important demographic than Gen X? Where’s your data to support this? I think he purchased the rights to American Demographics just to be armed with more material for debate. Any conversation I had with Brian ended with my feeling more energized, informed and better prepared to face the challenges ahead. He will be missed.

Mike Dawson, international editor, Lebensmittel Zeitung Brian Sharoff’s unexpected demise was a great loss to the trade. He built up the PLMA almost single-handedly with great acumen and turned what was at first only an interesting idea into a must-have global venue. To use an oftenmisquoted turn of phrase, he was a true internationalist and cosmopolitan with a genuine interest in foreign cultures. Beyond his obvious brilliance and expertise, he was a really entertaining character with a wicked sense of humor and immense charm. He certainly deserved his success because he was as hard-working and effective in action as he was smart and quick in thought. I only ever reported on the PLMA as a journalist, so I don’t know what he was like to work for, but he managed to create tremendous loyalty in his staff who were truly devoted to him. I can also recall that he always spoke very appreciatively about his colleagues, and one gained the distinct impression that their welfare was truly important to him. Doubtless Brian is now in heaven and looking down with an impish, but benign grin as we mortals try to honor him here. Knowing him, he will be wheeling and dealing up there with the angels, marketing mana as a private label, organizing a big PLMA exhibition in the skies, and bringing tears of laughter to God’s all-seeing eyes. Shalom, my friend, it was an honor to know you, and we miss you down here.

Private Label Hall of Fame member and co-founder Bob Anderson, former vice president/ general merchandise manager, Walmart To be inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame several years ago was a great honor for me. Making it special was that the presenter was a good friend, great leader and the president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association, Mr. Brian Sharoff. On March 18, Brian was inducted into the Private Label Hall of Fame, a well-deserved and overdue honor for a man 36

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Brian had a special talent in bringing together people from retail and manufacturing to help share best practices and to understand each other’s needs and requirements. — BOB ANDERSON, PRIVATE LABEL HALL OF FAME MEMBER/CO-FOUNDER

who loved the industry and all the folks that worked in it. Brian had a special talent in bringing together people from retail and manufacturing to help share best practices and to understand each other’s needs and requirements. He did this, not only here in the U.S., but took it globally as well. Brian was a mentor to many, a great teacher and listener. He was the face of the PLMA, the go-to person for all of us, and for anyone who was wanting to know anything about private label. I will always remember Brian for his big smile and happy hello and welcome to every one of us at every PLMA event. I’m thrilled and honored to have Brian join the many other leaders as part of the Hall of Fame. I only wish he could have been here to enjoy it, but knowing Brian, he would smile and say the real thanks goes out to all of us. Brian will be missed, but hopefully this honor and all his hard work will live on. I think of my friend often when I walk the stores in the United States and know he played a huge role in the development of private label here and around the world. Brian, much like Sam Walton, helped to bring quality products to market at an affordable price for all of us, the proof is in the market share it commands today.

Private Label Hall of Fame member Tom Ewing, former vice president/director national accounts, T. Marzetti and former chairman, PLMA board of directors Brian Sharoff had a lasting impact on the private label business by fostering the credibility of the industry in the days when the image of private label was embodied by no-name generic items. Brian promoted the growing number of national brand manufacturers who also produced private label products to the trade press to change the perception of many that private label products were made by small packers focused on cheap products. As the industry grew and private label manufacturers consolidated into large conglomerates

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and even public companies, Brian ensured that the growing sophistication of the manufacturers was covered in the trade press and national media. His message was that private label products were of equal quality of popular national brands and then he embraced premium private label products and touted their growth to further enhance the reputation of the industry. Brian’s ability to work with the trade press, media, retailers, suppliers and member manufacturers to create the message of equal or better product quality, consumer acceptance, retailer enthusiasm and manufacturer innovation was essential to enhancing the entire private label industry. Without Brian’s insights, leadership, understanding, and ability to influence others, the private label industry would not have enjoyed the tremendous success we have seen during his tenure.

Enrico Zobele, honorary chairman emeritus, Zobele Group I met Brian Sharoff in the early ’80s, at one of the very first World of Private Label exhibitions in Amsterdam. Since then, I have attended all the European PLMA shows that have followed. At the beginning, the discussion with Brian was to alternate years in Amsterdam and the year’s between in a different European capital. But the RAI proved to be by far more efficient and became the European home of PLMA, similar to the Rosemont in Chicago for the U.S. I remember the first years there being a few dozens of exhibitors in one hall, and then always bigger numbers of companies from all over the world wanting to exhibit, with new pavilions occupied and with long discussions to obtain larger and better positioned booths. This was the big idea of Brian, to bring industry and retailers together, to increase reciprocal awareness, to create and grow a brand-new business, private label. And to keep exploring new worlds, he was responsible for bringing PLMA exhibitions to Tokyo and Hong Kong in the ’90s and more recently in Shanghai, and organizing trade missions, conferences and roundtables in the Middle East, South Africa and South America. This was his vision, his life, his dream. Thus, he helped all of us to grow our business but even more our culture and friendship.

Jean-Pierre Bonvallet, international business development director, PLMA Brian Sharoff’s impact on the private label industry has been — and continues to be — great. First and foremost, Brian was a private label lover. He was totally dedicated to the industry. Second, he was a visionary who was able to predict the positive evolutions of the industry from basic, low-cost generics to premium and genuine retailers’ brands, not only in the various regions in the world

but on a global scale. This vision was based on permanent contacts with suppliers and retailers internationally during as well as independent of the major events. Thematic workshops have been organized in the U.S. and in Europe with that purpose. Brian also cultivated his contacts with the specialized retail press leaders in the key countries. He often sponsored surveys and research on consumer attitudes toward private label starting in 1981. The results were published by PLMA for the members or jointly with press partners to reach a larger audience. Third, Brian was able to share his vision around the world by expanding tremendously the U.S. show in Chicago with local and foreign exhibitors, in addition to hosting shows and trade missions outside the U.S. to focus on markets for private label on every continent, where retailers and wholesalers could meet suppliers from the world over and improve their understanding of private label trends and innovations from diverse countries.

Brian had a special talent in bringing together people from retail and manufacturing to help share best practices and to understand each other’s needs and requirements. — C L A Y D O C K E R Y, M A S S I M O Z A N E T T I BEVERAGE USA

Brian was also an exceptionally creative individual when it came to developing the tools that could help the industry grow, whether conferences and roundtables, executive education, eScanner and International Scanner newsletters, private label industry yearbooks, Salute to Excellence Awards, New Product Expo, and Idea Supermarket, or PLMA Live! Last but not least, although Brian was budget conscious, he was continually daring to launch new concepts. But then he would not hesitate to stop the experience if results were not as good as he expected. The development of store brands comes from the efforts and innovations of retailers and their private label suppliers, but nothing would have gone so fast and so widely without the impact of PLMA, whose spirit and right arm was Brian Sharoff. SB

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Wild About Kodi H-E-B has a lot of pride in its Kodi brand of coolers, tumblers and accessories. In fact, roughly a year ago the retailer filed a lawsuit against Home Depot and other retailers claiming they infringed on patents for its coolers. What’s more, judging by the looks of its dynamic Kodi concept shop in some of its stores, the retailer is downright boastful about Kodi. Editors at the Path to Purchase Institute, a sister brand to Store Brands at EnsembleIQ, captured photos from an H-E-B Plus store in the retailer’s hometown of San Antonio. The department is an absolute destination, filled with creativity that get shoppers itching to buy the own brand and hit the trail.

Kodi’s durable coolers showcased on a rock facing.

Coolers promoted for parents at the Little League game.

Tumblers and more in a clever Airstream-like display. 38

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Coolers angling to appeal to fishers.

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The Tradition Continues

PLMA 2021 Live From Chicago!

PLMA’s 2021 Private Label Trade Show

November 14-16 Presented by the Private Label Manufacturers Association 630 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 • Telephone: (212) 972-3131 Fax: (212) 983-1382 E-mail:

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