Issue #22 of 23
December 2, 2023

Industry and Government News
PLMA's 2023 Trade Show Was Truly a 'Phenomenon'

PLMA’s 2023 Private Label Trade Show has concluded and rave reviews from exhibitors, retailers, attendees, and the press are all reporting that a true phenomenon occurred at the convention center.
The show had a record 1,685 exhibitors displaying products, flavors, packaging, ingredients, and services and drew more than 13,000 exhibitors, retailers, and other visitors. It was 20 percent larger than last year, resulting in an additional 435 exhibit booths. Non-food exhibitors alone increased by 45 percent.

The sold-out floor presented 2,750 exhibitor booths with the latest innovations in food, beverages, health and beauty, baby care, household goods, kitchenware, general merchandise, wine and spirits, pet care and refrigerated and frozen foods, among other categories.

“PLMA’s 2023 ‘The Store Brands Phenomenon’ Private Label Trade Show provided unparalleled access to a wide assortment of products across all food and nonfood categories,” said Peggy Davies, president of the association.

“We are enjoying a growth spurt, with nearly six hundred new exhibitors added to the show this year. And within our non-food South Hall, a section was dedicated to beauty and cosmetics -- including color, fragrances, skincare, and men’s grooming -- as well as kitchenware and housewares. The event started with opening seminars on Sunday and overall was a networking palooza.”

In addition, there was also a strong global presence, with more than 45 percent of the exhibit floor filled with food and nonfood suppliers from outside the U.S.

Nearly 60 countries were represented at the Show, including 40 national pavilions from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lithuania, Peru, Republic of Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, among others.

The international experience extended to media coverage, as reporters from
Serbia, Chile, the Republic of Georgia, and Italy all carried stories about the show and features on exhibitors from their home countries. Representatives from dozens of magazines, podcasts and other media outlets also attended.

If you have post-show questions or are thinking of exhibiting next year, please contact +1 212 972-3131 or e-mail

PLMA Study Reveals Gen Z's Diverse Shopping Behaviors

PLMA has released a new report on the shopping habits of Gen Z. Overall, it can be called it a tale of two quartiles. In her analysis of data from PLMA's new survey of Generation Z's grocery shopping habits, Sara Williamson, PhD, divided the 907 respondents into quartiles based on their relative patronage of store brands and their attitudes towards the products.

She tagged the two most extreme segments Expressive Loyalists, store brands' most ardent fans among Gen Z shoppers, and Discerning Reluctants, store brands' least supportive group.

Comparing the two quartiles provides a compelling picture of how much store brands are loved by many, and how much work lays ahead for marketers to win over some others.

The responses to the survey's baseline questions are, unsurprisingly, dramatically different. For example, 82% of Expressive Loyalists say they buy store brands "always or frequently" while that purchase rate is only 32% among Discerning Reluctants. Asked if they "experiment with store brands" to find the best value, 91% of Loyalists said they did compared to 12% of Reluctants.

Fully 95% of Loyalists are "aware of store brands" at their favorite grocery store, yet only 35% of Reluctants say they are. Some 77% of Loyalists "always or frequently" choose a place to shop due to its store brand offerings, vs 51% of Reluctants who make that decision.

Most revealing, 82% of Loyalists say choosing a store brand product makes them feel "very positive about themself," compared to 6% of Reluctants who say buying store brands has that effect on them. Also, 78% of Loyalists say they "enjoy" grocery shopping, vs. 16% of Reluctants.

When asked to evaluate a series of positive descriptions of store brands, the percent of Loyalists and Reluctants who said they fit "very much or precisely" differed greatly. They were: Trustworthy, 78% of Loyalists said they fit vs. 20% of Reluctants; Authentic, 64% vs.16%; Innovative, 58% vs. 6%; Credible, 67% vs. 13%; Reliable, 75% vs. 18%; Fun, 55% vs. 11%; and Variety, 74% vs. 26%.

Dr. Williamson, Assistant Professor of Marketing at SUNY Old Westbury, presented her findings at PLMA’s Chicago Show.

The PLMA report, “Gen Z Loves Store Brands: America’s Youngest Consumers Speak Out on Grocery Shopping, Stores and Brands,” is available here.

‘Salute to Excellence’ Winners Announced

PLMA announced the 2023’s PLMA’s Salute to Excellence Awards winners at the trade show and the winners come from a wide variety of retailers and products selected from nearly 750 products submitted by 53 leading retailers. Nearly 100 products featuring the best-of-the-best in the world of private label were honored.

Created in 1986, the annual awards program recognizes outstanding food and nonfood products introduced within the past year by supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, online retailers, wholesalers and more.

“PLMA is thrilled to celebrate the winning retailers for their commitment to store brand product and packaging excellence,” said Peggy Davies, president of PLMA. “From innovations in flavors and ingredients to vitamin-enriched health and wellness products, the Salute to Excellence award winners underscore the important role of store brands.”

Submissions were sampled and evaluated by a panel of professional and consumer judges on several criteria, including taste, product concept, packaging, and value for money. Some of the winning products included:

  • Gluten-free goodness:
    • Open Nature Cauliflower Crust Garlic Chicken Alfredo Pizza from Albertsons Companies; and
    • Nice! Gluten-Free Vanilla Crème Cookies from Walgreens.
  • Specialty sauces, rubs and condiments: 
    • Lowes Foods’ Premium Brown Bag “Truffle Your Feathers” Black Garlic Truffle Sauce.
    • Great Value Blood Orange Balsamic Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Walmart Inc.; and
    • Wakefern Food Corp.’s Bowl & Basket Specialty Smokey Candied Bacon Sriracha Rub.
  • Breakfast foods: 
    • Nature’s Basket Sweet Potato Pancake and Waffle Mix from Giant Eagle.
    • Irresistibles Pina Colada-Flavoured Muffins from Metro Richelieu Inc.
    • Thrive Market’s Organic Infused Maple Syrup, Warm Pumpkin Spice; and
    • Good & Gather Blueberry Muffins with Zucchini and Oats from Target.
  • Global tastes: 
    • Aplenty Asian-Style Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers from Amazon.
    • Yesway’s Chamoy Chili Peach Rings.
    • SE Grocers Naturally Better Organic Mexican-Style Street Corn-Flavored Corn Chips; and
    • Crav’n Flavor Single-Serve Miso Chicken Ramen Soup Bowl from Topco Associates LLC.
  • Wellness cleanses and powders: 
    • Sprouts Farmers Market’s Regenerative Organic Liver Cleanse; and
    • 365 by Whole Foods Market Effervescent Vitamin C Powder, Kiwi-Strawberry.

The full list of winners can be found here.

After Nearly Three Years of Gains, Store Brands Experience Decline

After thirty-one consecutive months of growth, including double digit gains in twelve of them, store brands experienced their first negative month as dollar sales declined 0.8% for the period ending November 5, reports Circana. National brand sales were ahead 0.4% in that span.

But 2023 will still be a good year. Through November 5, store brand dollar sales are up 5.3%; national brands are up 4%. PLMA projects total store brand sales for 2023 will be about $233 billion, an increase of $3 billion over the prior year and an all-time record.

As they have most of the year, store brand unit sales continue to be in the red. But they fared relatively better than national brands last month, shedding 1.3% while national brands lost twice as much, off 2.6%.

Similarly, for the year to date, store brand unit sales are outperforming national brands, coming in at minus 0.2% while national brand unit sales have fallen 2.4%.

The next report from Circana is due December 11 and will be available to PLMA members, along with many other statistics, at the Unify+ portal at

Walmart to Invest $9B into 1,400 Stores

To boost sales, Walmart is planning to spend more than $9 billion to upgrade and modernize 1,400 stores, according to the retailer.

Walmart said it wants the image of an all-purpose place to shop where consumers can turn to for things other than groceries. It does not want to be known as just a deep discounter anymore according to the company.

“These construction investments allow us to create more local jobs and make it easier for our associates to get customers what they want, when they want it,” Walmart said in a statement.

The fresh look has already been tested at concept stores at a few Walmart Supercenters. Walmart reported same-store sales at these concept stores, which are being called “Stores of the Future,” are increasing by a few percentage points. One store located in Teterboro, N.J., saw same-store sales rise 20%.

As of now, 117 Walmart locations in 30 states have rolled out the redesign already before expanding to other stores across the country.

The upgrade includes refreshed interiors and exteriors with new paint and updated flooring, modernized restrooms, LED lighting for a brighter show floor and new signage to make it easier for shoppers to find what they need. Pharmacies will be larger and will feature private screening rooms where patients can be treated.
Digital screens and QR codes that offer information on Walmart’s services online will also be expanded to more locations in stores.

The stores will include more checkout options, both staffed and self-checkout, the grocery section will have more grab-and-go food and beverage options.

Sprouts' Private Brands Continue to Grow

Sales of Sprouts Farmers Market store brand products rose 14% in the third quarter and now account for more than 20% of total revenue, according to the retailer.

Chip Molloy, Sprouts chief financial officer, said during a recent investor conference call to discuss their quarterly results said the retailer will continue to grow its assortment as more sales are coming from its store brands.

“Unlike traditional grocers’ private labels, our Sprouts brand is positioned as better for you, high-quality, and attribute-friendly,” Molloy said. “The value of the Sprouts brand resonates with our core customers, as we continue to receive recognition and rave reviews.”

Molloy noted the Sprouts brand organic vanilla creamer went viral on social media during the third quarter for containing only four ingredients, all of which are considered clean. The popularity reflects what consumers are seeking from products. Sprouts also said it focused on the development of new products, especially items that offer better-for-you ingredients.

“We continue to focus on innovation and differentiation with a strong bias toward our differentiated Sprouts brand portfolio, which sets us apart from other food retailers,” said Jack Sinclar, Sprouts CEO.

He added the grocer continues to expand in categories such as frozen, and its revitalized in-store sampling has helped shoppers rediscover existing items while also discovering new items being added.

Amazon Extending Grocery Delivery to Non-Prime Users

Amazon has announced its online grocery delivery and pickup services are now available to non-Prime members throughout the U.S. through Amazon Fresh and will soon expand to markets where Whole Foods operates.

This follows a pilot program launched this summer that offered Amazon Fresh delivery and fee-free pickup to non-Prime members in a dozen markets.
Amazon had offered online grocery delivery and pickup as a major reward for its millions of Prime members. It was a tactic aimed at keeping these members engaged and enticing non-users to sign up.

But with its Amazon Fresh delivery expansion in August of this year and now this latest move to nationwide availability, Amazon is demonstrating it is focused on motivating as many shoppers as it can to use its omnichannel grocery services.

Amazon Fresh delivery is currently available in most major U.S. metropolitan markets and pickup is available from the brand’s 44 grocery stores. Once integrated with Whole Foods stores, shoppers without a Prime membership in more than 3,500 towns and cities across the U.S. will have access to delivery and pickup via Amazon, the company said.

Amazon Fresh shoppers without Prime memberships pay grocery delivery fees ranging from $4.95 to $13.95 depending on the basket size and delivery window they select. Prime members pay $4 less across this range and get free delivery on orders over $100.

Publix CEO Todd Jones Stepping Down

Todd Jones, a former Publix Super Markets bagger who became the employee-owned grocer’s CEO in 2016, will leave his post on Jan. 1, while current President Kevin Murphy will be elevated to chief executive officer, Publix has announced.

Publix SVP John Goff will be promoted to president.

Jones, who has been with Publix for 43 years, will become executive chairman. The board’s current chairman, Ed Crenshaw, will remain on the Publix board as chairman emeritus.

“Todd has been an outstanding leader,” Crenshaw said in a statement. “He has been committed to continuing Publix’s success and passionate about the development and promotion of our associates. We’re pleased he will continue to provide leadership to our company as executive chairman.”

Jones was elevated to store manager in 1988, became a district manager in 1997 and, two years later, was named regional director for Publix. He became vice president of the Jacksonville division for the Lakeland, Florida-based grocer in 2003 and SVP of product business development in 2005.

Jones was named president of Publix in 2008, CEO and president in 2016, and CEO in 2019.

“We are delighted to have leaders with the experience of Kevin and John who are ready to take the next steps in their careers,” Jones said. “I am confident in their ability to lead our company into the future and to continue to make Publix a great place to shop for our customers and a great place to work for our associates.”

AWG Brands Revamps Consumer Focused Private Label Websites

AWG Brands, the private brands of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG), has redesigned two of its consumer-facing websites, one for the Always Save brand and one for the Best Choice Family of Brands. The revamped websites aim to build brand awareness and loyalty, while driving consumers to AWG member retailers’ stores, according to the company.

‟We redesigned the Always Save brand and Best Choice Family of Brands websites to be user friendly and to communicate the unique elements of the brands to consumers, ultimately increasing business for AWG member retailers,” the marketing manager for AWG Brands Cara Finger, said in a statement announcing the move.

One of the changes to the Best Choice Family of Brands website, which includes Best Choice, Clearly by Best Choice, and Best Choice Superior Selections, will allow shoppers to easily move between the three brands in the Best Choice Family of Brands portfolio instead of having to jump to different sites.

Other new website features will include an updated “Where to Buy” function allowing consumers to locate member retailers in their area; recipes featuring AWG Brands products centered around meals, snacks, desserts and more; store brand news through announcements and blog posts, and a new product search layout providing a listing that is easier to view and navigate.  

‟Our goal was to create a space that benefits consumers and member retailers alike,” said Rachel Corkill, AWG Brands senior marketing specialist. “These websites are a great tool for AWG member retailers to continue to engage their current and future AWG Brands consumers.”

The new websites are and

In the stores

Trader Joe’s is showing its holiday spirit with the release of a number of new holiday themed items featuring seasonal flavors. They include Cranberry Butter Cookies; Peppermint Flavored Baking Chips; Cinnamon Bun Inspired Pancake & Waffle Mix; Pretzel Bread Pudding; Peppermint Wine Cocktail as well as Cocoa Cream Wine Cocktail; and even a Hot Cocoa Scented Whipped Body Scrub.

Walmart’s exclusive Beautiful by Drew Barrymore housewares and kitchenware collection will experience another expansion with the addition of a selection of products in thyme. Products available in the new green color include a 5.3-quart stand mixer, a 3-quart air fryer, and a 6-quart air fryer. All the new products will feature Barrymore’s signature in gold.

Albertsons and Safeway have launched a line of premium wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas from Italy under their Signature Reserve brand. According to the company, the new frozen pizzas are made in Meduno, Italy and come in four flavors: caprese; mushroom and truffle; sopressata; and gorgonzola and bacon with pear chutney. The new pizzas are made with a 24-hour pizza dough leavening technique and baked on a lava stone stove from Sicily’s Mt. Etna.

Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. is expanding its oral care offerings to help member retailers capitalize on this $10.6 billion category. The new oral care products under its Always Save and Best Choice private brands will include interdental brushes and soft picks and a focus on kids’ items, such as toothbrushes with fun characters, bright colors, and suction cups.

PetSmart is preparing for the holiday season with an assortment of new private label products that offer gift ideas for their pets. Featured under the company’s Merry & Bright Holiday and Chance & Friends store brand lines, some of the products will include Merry & Bright Holiday Party Dog Dress; Merry & Bright Holiday Scarfs for Cats or Dogs: a Hanukkah Dog Tee; Chance & Friends Plush Cat toys; and Merry & Bright Holiday Printed Mice Cat and Mistletoe Wood Small Pet Chew.

Market research
Omnichannel Shoppers Are Big Spenders On and Offline

A report by Grocery Doppio has found not only are omnichannel buyers more loyal than digital-only buyers but they also spend more.

The State of the Industry: The Omnichannel Grocery Shopper report was a study conducted jointly by Incisiv and FMI, in partnership with Wynshop to examine trends among omnichannel grocery shoppers.

The report contains interesting insights, including a growing use and comfort with a hybrid approach amongst American grocery shoppers, with digital experiences playing an ever-growing role. The study found nearly three-in-four grocery customers now shop for groceries online at least part of the time.

Omnichannel buyers spend 1.5x more every month than single-channel buyers and are more than three times more loyal than digital-only customers.

It found digital influence continues to grow, even for in-store buyers. In these categories of grocery, beverages (53%); pantry (73%); personal care (73%); household (76%) and pets (83%) the majority of sales occur through digital channels.

Also, shoppers use digital tools even before entering a store to make shopping lists (77%), confirm item availability (76%), and research an item’s location within the store (69%).

One of the eye-catching findings was omnichannel shoppers spend more than single channel patrons. For instance, patrons who buy via multiple channels spend an average of $1,043/month. This is 1.5x more than those who buy online only ($659) or in-store only ($669).

They are also more loyal than digital-only buyers. Omnichannel buyers churn, on average, after 4.2 bad experiences vs. just 1.3 for digital-only patrons.

The big question mark, and possible opportunity from the study is loyalty seems to be up for grabs. Customers reported the experience that has the highest impact on their loyalty is how grocers handle inventory status and out of stock items (84%), followed by checkout (79%), and the pickup experience (77%).

The Omnichannel Grocery Shopper report reflects interviews with more than 5,100 grocery shoppers and over 200 grocery executives, as well as data from other Grocery Doppio studies.

What Lies Ahead for PLMA in 2024?

As 2023 comes to a close, PLMA is preparing for a wide variety of events for our members and the industry in general in 2024.

It all starts on January 25, with the next installment of PLMA’s popular Lunch & Learn program. Mary Ellen Lynch of Circana will examine a major sales trend that bedevils U.S. retailers and store brand manufacturers alike: “Where Have All the Units Gone?”

Three more Lunch & Learn sessions are scheduled on February 22 and April 25 as well as a late summer “Meet the Retailer” session. Topics will be announced shortly.

In a few months, PLMA will release its annual State of the Industry report to give the industry an in-depth and overall look at what happened to store brands in 2023.
On March 20-22, PLMA’s 2024 Annual Meeting & Leadership Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk. The conference will address current issues in the industry and feature expert speakers.

May 28-29 PLMA holds its World of Private Label International Trade Show in Amsterdam. Held at the RAI Exhibition Center, it is a can’t miss event for those doing international business and who are seeking to find trends and high-quality store brand products from around the world.

ne, PLMA’s Executive Education program at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia gets underway. A must for all who are new to the private label industry and for those who want to improve their leadership skills. It will be held on June 11-12.

As the year comes to a close, on November 16-19, PLMA’s 2024 Annual Private Label Trade Show will be held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center just outside of Chicago.

We hope all PLMA members will attend and take advantage of the opportunities these programs will present.

You Can't Afford Not to Be a PLMA Member

If you are in the store brands business, you can't afford not to be a PLMA Member.

Did you know PLMA members receive discounted rates to attend November's Private Label Trade Show and PLMA’s Executive Education program?

Members also get access to UNIFY+ monthly sales data covering over 317 food and non-food categories and over 950 subcategories and much more. Becoming a PLMA member is an investment that delivers actionable real-time solutions so that your business thrives today and is prepared for tomorrow’s challenges.

For information, visit Join PLMA, or contact the membership team at