Issue #18 of 24
September 17, 2022

Industry and Government News
Lunch & Learn Returns Sept. 27 with NielsenIQ Team

PLMA’s popular Lunch & Learn live and online speakers’ program returns on September 27 with presentations from a NielsenIQ team on innovation and trends.

Titled “Success for Store Brands – Winnovation,” the program includes:

Genevieve Aronson, Nielsen IQ’s Global Head of Thought Leadership, Content Strategy and Social Media. Aronson sits at the helm of Nielsen IQ global trends and insights and brings close to 20 years of experience spotting trends across the beauty, fashion, food, beverage, home, and health space.

Mike Jones, Senior Vice President of NielsenIQ BASES, the innovation measurement practice within NielsenIQ. In this role, Jones and his team provide C-level consultancy, strategic planning and ‘Software as a Service’ solutions to FMCG and retailer clients.

Sebastiaan Buchholtz, Senior Analytical Consultant at NielsenIQ in Brussels, who was one of the main speakers at PLMA’s World of Private Label Trade Show this past May and holds a MSc. Double Degree in Advanced International Business Management, Business Management from the University of Groningen.

Previous Lunch & Learn sessions explored a wide range of topics, including presentations on packaging, product development, and the growing demand of consumers for store brands.

Registration is free for PLMA members and retailers. For more information regarding this session and other sessions of Lunch & Learn, please contact Julia Meehan at

PLMA Readies for Private Label Trade Show

There are only two months until PLMA’s 2022 Private Label Trade Show, November 13-15, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. Exhibitors and retailers are primed to return to the event for the first time since 2019.

The theme of this year’s show this year is “Consumers are Back in Charge.” Now more than ever, American shoppers are demanding high quality products that offer healthier choices, on-trend attributes, unique formulations, enviro-friendly features, and inflation-fighting value. This spells opportunity for food and non-food store brands.

As of September 6, PLMA had nearly 1,000 exhibiting companies participating in the show. Those companies represent over 1,700 booths. By the time the show opens, PLMA is projecting 1,300 exhibitors and more than 2,000 booths, making the PLMA show the largest Private Label event this year in North America.

Over the first eight months of 2022, sales grew by 9.4%, almost twice the increase of national brands, reported IRI. Store brands also outperformed national brands in unit sales for the eight months. The gains are widespread: In the last three months, 15 of 17 departments saw store brand sales growth.

Based on PLMA projections and IRI data, by the end of 2022, annual store brand dollar sales will have increased by 36% over a five-year period.

Dedicated to helping retailers, wholesalers and others make the most of their time when visiting the show, PLMA offers a range of pre-show services and special on-site exhibits.

These include:

  • PLMA's Matchmaker™ online service lets registered retailers arrange appointments with exhibitors in advance of the show.
  • PLMA’s New Product Expo displays the latest product innovations submitted by exhibitors.
  • PLMA's Idea Supermarket® for best-in-class private label branding concepts, products, and packaging from retailers across the country and around the world.
  • PLMA's Annual Salute to Excellence Awards display. The annual Salute to Excellence Awards give recognition to outstanding new store brand products.
  • PLMA's Show Navigator is a comprehensive resource for the show where all registrants will find the following details:
    • Exhibitors
    • Product Announcements
    • PLMA's Idea Supermarket
    • Trade Show Facts
    • Show Floor Plan
    • Sunday Afternoon Seminars

Show Navigator is launched 30 days prior to the show. During the show, PLMA's Show Navigator can be used by smartphones or tablet to allow attendees to move around the show floor efficiently. This tool is also available for many months after the event.

For more information, go to, or call us at +1 212 972-3131 or e-mail


Special Issue of GRB Focuses on PLMA

PLMA is the sole subject of the September special issue of Global Retail Brands, a trade publication with a worldwide distribution of 7,000 that describes itself as "your guide to the private label universe." The 33-page issue details PLMA's new survey, "Will Europeans Ever Shop the Same?" The survey, which was conducted in eight European countries and collected consumer attitudes on their shopping habits and behavior in the post-pandemic era.

The issue also includes coverage of PLMA's 2022 Private Label Trade Show, set for November 13-15 in Chicago. GRB publisher Phillip Russo said, "The findings and their implications are so significant, we were compelled to create this special edition and share the results with the industry."

Global Retail Brands is published four times a year by Kent Media Group and is distributed to senior level executives at the top 250 global retailers. Additional distribution occurs at leading private label fairs and trade shows. Click here to view the issue.

Private Brands Help Kroger Sales Soar

Kroger has announced that its private brand sales rose 10.2% in the retailer’s latest earnings report. In a second quarter earnings call, Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said the grocer saw record engagement with its private brands.

During the period ended Aug. 13, Kroger said that its private brand sales rose 10.2% in the second quarter, led by record growth of its namesake Kroger brand and Home Chef brand, which Kroger acquired in 2018. During the second quarter, the retailer also introduced 170 new Our Brands items, including the expansion of its Simple Truth plant-based line and seasonal fresh favorites.

The retailer has also expanded its private brand portfolio with the launch of a Smart Way product line. The line brings together 16 legacy brands into a single, easy-to-find identity.

"As our customers face an ongoing inflationary environment, we know they are looking to stretch their dollars further than ever before," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's senior vice president and chief merchant and marketing officer. "Smart Way is an exciting, eye-pleasing product line that will be easy for customers to find. By adding a simplified opening price point brand strategy to Our Brands portfolio, we will further cater to every customer, every time."

"We are confident Smart Way will have something for everyone," said Juan De Paoli, Vice President, Our Brands for Kroger, said during the earnings conference call. "From canned vegetables and bread to juices and staples, this new product line features the products families need to put an even more affordable meal on their table."

Customers can now purchase approximately 150 Smart Way products on shelves nationwide, with additional items available this fall. Smart Way is the latest addition to Kroger's Our Brands portfolio, which includes the Kroger brand, Simple Truth, Private Selection, Home Chef and Heritage Farm, among others.

Consumers Still Choosing to Eat at Home

Consumers are still turning to groceries and eating at home instead of restaurants, according to data from the recently merged Information Resources, Inc., and The NPD Group.

While inflation is more moderate for food away-from-home (7.6% versus a year ago) compared to food-at-home (13.1% versus a year ago), eating away-from-home still costs 3.4 times more than in-home food sourced from retail, according to the data. This has resulted in more people choosing to grocery shop and make meals at home, according to IRI/The NPD Group. 

Sales trends also point to consumers choosing to eat at home. At-home food sales grew at 8.7% versus a year ago, outpacing away-from-home food, which grew at 6% versus year ago. The nearly $1.5 trillion away-from-home food market is forecast to grow around 8% in 2022, with at-home food, outpacing away-from-home food sales, according to the research.

Another important factor in this trend is up to 20% of U.S. workers are working from home. This helps keep 62.5% of the food dollar based on retail at-home sales, while 37.5% is based on away-from-home sales.

But even with consumers choosing more at-home meals, inflation is still causing consumers to be more aware and cautious when spending on groceries. This has many consumers buying fewer non-essential items on the food aisle, or for many more, buying only the essentials.

However, even when dining out, consumers are heading for more value foodservice outlets, like quick service restaurants, as evidenced by the growth in average customer check versus menu prices, according to IRI/The NPD Group study.


Pet Specialty and E-tail Sales Top $31 Billion

According to market research firm Packaged Facts. The U.S. pet industry posted its most significant growth ever in 2021.

Packaged Facts' report, called “U.S. Pet Market Focus: Pet Stores & Pet Specialty Retailing,” reported sales of pet specialty retailers and e-tailers topped $31 billion, with an 18 percent growth rate surpassing that of the overall pet industry.

However, increases in prices across all areas of pet products and pet care have had a major impact on consumers.

The survey of U.S. pet owners and pet product shoppers found 59 percent reported spending more on pet products than they expected, up from 45 percent in 2021, and 45 percent are spending more on pet products, up from 34 percent in 2021.

“Manufacturers across the pet market have slowly increased their prices,” according to report analyst Shannon Brown, “spurred by challenges in acquiring ingredients, packaging materials, and a host of other items that go into making and selling pet products.”

However, despite the rise in prices, the sales by specialized pet retailers remain strong. According to the report “…pet specialty retailers and e-tailers maintain a strong hand. The pet specialty market saw a flurry of activity between 2020 and 2022, with Chewy approaching $10 billion in annual sales.”

Packaged Facts also found in-store services are becoming an increasingly critical part to pet specialty retailers’ success in competing with Amazon and mass-market brick-and-mortar stores. “Grooming and boarding services feature prominently among pet specialty retailer marketing messages, as do veterinary care and the new dog training particularly important to millennials,” the report said.

Walmart to Invest in Sustainable Beef Company

Walmart is planning in acquiring a stake in a beef startup company Sustainable Beef LLC, a rancher-owned company based in North Platte, Neb.

This is part of the retailer’s ongoing efforts to build a transparent, sustainable supply chain for high-quality beef. Walmart said the investment will help Sustainable Beef open its angus beef processing plant in North Platte, Neb. Plans call for the $325 million project to be open by late 2024. The more than 500,000-square-foot plant is expected to process 1,500-plus cattle per day and create over 800 new jobs. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“We are dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable beef to our customers, and an investment in Sustainable Beef LLC will give us even more access to these products,” Tyler Lehr, senior vice president of merchandising for deli services, meat, and seafood at Walmart U.S., said in a statement.

“We know Sustainable Beef LLC has a responsible approach to beef processing, one that includes creating long-term growth for cattle ranchers and family farmers. This investment provides greater visibility into the beef supply chain and complements Walmart’s regeneration commitment to improve grazing management,” Lehr added.

Walmart originally unveiled its plan to enter the angus beef business in 2019. The program is aimed at supplying Walmart shoppers with a selection of high-quality beef plus added transparency and sustainability in sourcing.

PLMA Live!
The Private Label Trade Show: What’s in Store for Retailers?

Walmart, Albertsons and Costco are among the many retailers registered to attend PLMA's Annual Private Label Trade Show, November 13-15, in Chicago. The show floor will feature the latest food and nonfood trends. Plus, there are special exhibits showcasing new and award-winning store brands. Suzanne Caputo, PLMA’s Director of Retail Trade Relations, shares details of the largest U.S. event for store brands in an interview with news anchor Jodi Daley. Click here for video.

The High-Tech Supermarket

Tech is streamlining the grocery shopping experience. The use of robotics in warehouses is expected to increase by 50 percent in the next five years. Plus, there are new AI-driven solutions, product management platforms and more. PLMA Live!'s Jodi Daley shares some of today’s biggest tech trends. Click here for video.

In the stores

Kroger has launched a new private label line called Smart Way. The line will introduce products in categories from canned vegetables to napkins. As of now, Kroger has about 150 Smart Way products on its store shelves nationwide, with additional items hitting stores later this year. Smart Way is the latest addition to Kroger’s private label portfolio, which includes the Kroger brand, Simple Truth, Pet Pride, Comforts, Private Selection, and Home Chef, among others.

Pet retailer Petco is expanding its WholeHearted private label dog food line with new, human-grade frozen options. The new line of frozen WholeHearted Fresh Recipes includes ingredients such as chicken and vegetables, beef and vegetables, and fish and vegetables. The human-grade ingredients help support pets' ideal weight, intestinal health, joint support, and skin and coat protection.

UNFI is expanding its lineup of Woodstock organic store brand sauces with the addition of sriracha aioli, lemon dill aioli and burger sauce. UNFI said the new sauces are geared towards shoppers hoping to zest up their cooking with the new sauces and flavors. UNFI is promoting the products as “better-for-you options that don’t sacrifice taste.”

German on-demand grocery delivery company Gorillas is expanding its selection of private label products with its new Gorillas Daily and Gorillas Premium brands. Gorillas Daily includes several staple grocery products including cold cuts and peanut butter, while Gorillas Premium offers specialty products such as ravioli with truffles. The delivery service operates in New York City as well as Europe.

Williams-Sonoma is adding Halloween products to its private brand collections. The products include holiday related tabletop, glassware, barware, entertaining, decor and costume collections for home decoration. The collection includes products from the company’s private brand line, including West Elm, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Mark & Graham.

Kohl’s has introduced a private label collection called Sonoma Community. It is a new sub-brand of Kohl’s flagship brand, Sonoma Goods for Life. The first products from the new Sonoma Community collection have an assortment that celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, with apparel and products that offer customers ways to mark Hispanic and Latino culture.

Crate & Kids has created a new store brand line after teaming up with textiles designer John Robshaw on an exclusive soft home collection for kids. The John Robshaw for Crate & Kids Collection includes crib sheets, throw pillows, quilts, and rugs. All products are made from organic fibers and will feature more than 70 items. 

7-Eleven is working to refresh its private brand coffee brand by hiring the Safari Sundays agency. The redesign touches every 7-Eleven product in the coffee range and other products. This includes the company’s on-demand hot and iced beverages, tea bags, condiment packaging, in-store dispensers, and pre-packaged beans.

GNC is expanding its line of exclusive products with the addition of new products from G FUEL. The GNC G FUEL products include Sonic Peach Rings and Hype Sauce Raspberry Lemonade RTD cans. G FUEL Energy Formula Powder is sugar-free and includes antioxidants from 18 different fruit extracts. G FUEL cans have zero sugar, zero calories, and zero artificial colors.

Market research
In-Store Grocery Shopping Still Popular with Consumers

According to the University of Illinois, in-person grocery shopping remained surprisingly resilient throughout the pandemic, indicating that online grocery sales are not likely to undermine them anytime soon, according to a new study.

Researchers at UI surveyed consumers in September and December 2020, and March 2021. They found that in-person food shopping remained the most popular option, with more than 90% of respondents reporting that they did it consistently during the pandemic. This was during a period where COVID vaccines started to appear and the country was anticipating the end of the pandemic.

“People like looking at the meat, they like looking at the produce, they like seeing what’s in season,” said Melissa Ocepek, a professor of information technology at Illinois. “Those are things we aren’t very good at replicating online.”

The survey looked at food-purchasing behavior that minimized person-to-person contact, such as delivery, takeout, or curbside pickup. It found that these peaked in December 2020, when the first vaccines were just starting to become available. It also noted that 80% of full-service restaurant developed curbside pickup options.

Researchers plan to dig further into shopping patterns, looking at things like how many consumers visit more than one store and what they are buying online vs. in-person.

Tom's Data Dive: Breakfast Makes a Comeback

In the latest feature for PLMA’s e-Scanner, Editor-in-Chief Tom Prendergast examines PLMA’s exclusive IRI/Unify sales data. He examines the data to see which categories and products are showing growth and opportunities for PLMA members and retailers. This month’s column looks at IRI statistics as of August 7.

Home continues to be a great place for breakfast, and store brands are taking advantage. Many studies have pointed to the trend of consumers eating at home more often is continuing even as the pandemic wanes. The latest private brand numbers for breakfast foods seem to show this is true for the most important meal of the day.

In the past four weeks of data from IRI, which ended on August 7, private label products for breakfast food products, sides and drinks all showed growth.

In food hot cereal/oatmeal (+33.4%), frozen sausage (+32.1%) had dollar sales increases of over 30%. Meanwhile other breakfast food products like ready-to-eat cereals (+22.8%), muffins (+20.4%), frozen waffles (+22%), English muffins (+13.1%) and frozen breakfast handheld products (+17.8%) all showed strong dollar sales growth.

Sales growth was just as strong over the past 12 weeks. During the period from June 12 to August 7, hot cereal/oatmeal grew 30%, while frozen sausage (+33.3%), ready-to-eat cereals (+21.8%), muffins (+18.5%) frozen waffles (+22%), and English muffins (+10.5%) also grew.

Side dishes also were popular with families eating breakfast at home. During the past four weeks, store brand dollar sales gains were found for maple/pancake syrup, which rose 12.9%, while shelf stable toaster pastries (+29.5%), refrigerated bacon (+6.3%), and refrigerated breakfast sausage and ham (+9.9%) all showed growth.

As with breakfast foods, sales of side dishes were also strong during the 12-week period. Maple/pancake syrup (12.5%), shelf stable toaster pastries (+29.7%), refrigerated bacon (+6.9%), and refrigerated breakfast sausage and ham (+10.5%) all increased in sales.

Breakfast beverages were no exception to the popularity of private brand breakfasts. Ground coffee sales were especially strong, growing by 32% in the past four weeks and 32.4% in the past 12 weeks. Refrigerated coffee creamer (+46.5%) showed the strongest dollar increase in sales while frozen orange juice (+15.1%), and instant coffee (+16.2%) all grew according to the latest four-week statistics. In the past 12 weeks dollar sales also showed strong increases for these products with refrigerated coffee creamer (+38.1%), frozen orange juice (+14.2%) and instant coffee (+19.2%) all having sales growth.

There are just some of the products and categories showing private brand growth. Up to date sales statistics are available to members through IRI’s Unify statistics section on


PLMA to Hold 'Sustainable Store Brands' Program

On October 6-7, PLMA will present its first Sustainable Store Brands program on Zoom. The topics and speakers will focus on sustainability for and with consumers, alliance development, packaging, sourcing, innovation, and other important initiatives.

Sustainability touches every aspect of manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers’ operations. Over two mornings, attendees will be diving into the issues and process of the development of a sustainable private brand partnership between retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers.

Speakers will include representatives from Sam's Club, IRI Worldwide, Meijer, Fair Trade USA, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Tops Markets.

For more information contact


The focus to tackle sustainability now touches every aspect of manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers operations.