September 2021

Industry and Government News
PLMA to hold Online Education Program This Month

PLMA’s popular ‘Lunch and Learn’ returns with the launch of two online programs on September 23rd and September 30th. The meetings will focus on a three-fold path to strategic communication and sustainable partnerships for private brands.

Joint Business Planning is mission critical for private label suppliers to gain an advantage at the table against the multi-category branded companies and execute more effectively and efficiently by focusing their resources on areas of highest returns.

PLMA and The Partnering Group have organized two live one-hour ‘Lunch and Learn’ interactive sessions for PLMA member manufacturers, suppliers, brokers and their retail partners. These sessions will help online attendees understand what needs to be done before sitting at the Joint Business Planning table that will set you up for success in driving win-win plans to understand and fulfill the needs of each other and your customers.

PLMA has educated thousands of store brand executives - manufacturers and retailers - over the past decade through education programs in Philadelphia and Chicago. The ‘Lunch and Learn’ education program is expressly designed to accommodate attendees’ busy schedules. For more information, please email education@plma.com.

Amazon Planning ‘Department’ stores

After years of speculation, retail giant Amazon is planning on opening brick-and-mortar stores for clothing and household items. The stores reportedly will be like department stores and focus on sales of electronics, clothing, household items and other products. Although the company has not released details, industry experts expect Amazon to devote space to its wide range of private label products, which are featured prominently among the categories to be sold in the new outlets.

The first Amazon department stores are expected to be in Ohio and California. The stores are expected to be around 30,000 square feet, smaller than the 100,000 square feet most department stores occupy.
Food Label Modernization Act reintroduced in Congress

For the third time in six years, the Food Labeling Modernization Act has been introduced in both houses of Congress. Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Ed Markey; and Democratic Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr., Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, and Rosa DeLauro, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, introduced the legislation, describing it is “an effort to help consumers select healthy products.”  

The proposed bill would direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a single, standard front-of-package nutrition labeling system for all products required to bear such labeling.

The bill would create a symbol that displays calorie information in relation to serving size, information on saturated and trans fats, sodium, added sugars and other nutrients. It would also add warning symbols for foods high in saturated or trans fats, sodium, added sugars, and other ingredients. Previous versions of this bill introduced in 2015 and 2018 were unsuccessful.

Manufacturers Face Labor, Supply Chain Challenges

According to data from the Consumer Brands Association, the consumer-packaged goods industry is facing a major labor and supply chain crisis which shows no signs of easing.

 Formerly the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the CBA reports food and beverage manufacturers continue to experience supply chain constraints, delays in shipping, inflation and increased fuel prices and a difficult time finding labor. Last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that at times grocers have been receiving as little as 40% of what they ordered, and food companies are expecting disruptions to last into 2022. 

 Another factor is with the Delta variant, more people are again spending time at home. This has led to increased consumption of some products and has placed a demand for food and non-food products similar to early 2020. There are also reports of stockpiling of some products by supermarkets as well as consumers.

 Major companies have taken steps to solve the labor shortage. Walmart has announced it will increase the pay of over 550,000 hourly workers while others are raising salaries or offering “signing bonuses” for new workers.

Walmart Offering Local Delivery to Other Retailers

Walmart has announced its in-house delivery platform, Spark Driver, will be available to other businesses so independent contractors delivering Walmart groceries and products can make additional deliveries along the way.

 Called Walmart GoLocal, the service is another way for the company to strengthen its delivery platform by adding more paying pickup and drop-offs while drivers are out. It is a direct competitor to other last-mile delivery services such as DoorDash, Instacart, and Shipt, which is owned by Walmart’s rival Target.

 Under this new system, the delivery person wouldn’t arrive in a Walmart vehicle or Walmart attire, which helps make it an option for other big chains. Executives at Walmart explained the far-reaching potential of the new service, which could deliver cupcakes from a local bakery or auto parts from a national retailer to a car repair shop.

FDA Rejects CBD as a Dietary Supplement

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reaffirmed that CBD can’t be marketed as a dietary supplement. Two product applications from CBD companies, Charlotte’s Web and Irwin Naturals, were both denied in August. FDA rejected the two notifications as CBD is the active ingredient in the approved drug product Epidiolex and the agency would not let it be marketed as a dietary supplement.

 FDA’s concerns focused on the scientific evidence submitted by the companies which the agency said did not provide an adequate basis to conclude that a dietary supplement would be safe. For these reasons, FDA ruled CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition.

Although the FDA has claimed it wants to ensure consumer products containing CBD are safe, it has yet to act, which creates a major problem for the CBD industry. They are legally produced and used across the nation, but CBD products are currently not regulated at the federal level and state regulations vary, creating difficulties in transportation and sales.

Albertsons Launches Subscription Delivery Service

Following in the footsteps of Amazon, Walmart and Ahold Delhaize U.S., Albertsons has launched a subscription delivery service, along with a larger shopper loyalty program and a new app.

The new subscription delivery service is called “FreshPass” and gives exclusive unlimited grocery delivery service with member-only perks. The company also announced the launch of its “Albertsons Deals & Delivery” app, and “Albertsons for U”, a redesigned shopper loyalty program.

Albertsons is highlighting store brands with the new service. FreshPass offers 5% off the company’s O Organics and Open Nature private label products. Albertsons also announced store brand penetration has reached 25.2%; the company launched 318 new store brand products during the first quarter. 

Plant-Based Foods Sales Projected to Reach $162B by 2030

Bloomberg Intelligence has reported the global plant-based foods market is forecasted to have dramatic growth in the coming years. The expected sales of plant-based foods could reach $162 billion by the year 2030, up from $30 billion in 2020.

The two largest subcategories of plant-based alternatives -- dairy and meat -- are expected to continue as the largest segments. Bloomberg foresees growth to be found in new formulations and products such as plant-based ice cream, cheese, sour cream, and butter. An increase in consumer concerns about health and sustainability and the continued growth of vegetarians and ‘flexitarians’ are also predicted to be drivers of growth.
Target Store Brand Sales Outpace Store-Wide Growth

Target has reported its owned brands had a jump in sales in the “mid-teens” for the second quarter, outpacing total sales increases for the retailer.

 “Our diverse collection of owned brands continues to grow and provide differentiation across our assortment,” Target’s Christina Hennington, executive vice president and chief growth officer, said during the company’s financial call announcing the results.

 She added that in the food and beverage category, Good & Gather showed a strong growth in sales and Target’s new line of snack and food products, Favorite Day, has also shown encouraging results. Food and beverage sales reported “low, double-digit growth.” Bakery, café, and deli sales were especially successful, with sales above 50%.

PLMA Live!
News Desk: Kitchenware and Health & Wellness Trends to be Unveiled at PLMA's Private Label Trade Show

People are cooking and baking more. They’re looking for new kitchen tools and appliances to bring their recipes to life. Carol Angrisani explains how retailers are responding. Plus, Dollar General hires a chief medical officer...Sprouts sponsors the MyFitnessPal app...CVS launches more better-for-you foods. Moves like these show that retailers are getting more strategic with their health and wellness initiatives. Graham Leary reports. Click here for video.

Monthly Interview: New Study Reveals Role of Private Label

Private brands are a significant driver of trust in a retailer, according to “Brand Ambition: Food and Beverage Private Brands & Beyond,” a new report from consumer research firm The Hartman Group. Shelley Balanko, Ph.D., Hartman's Senior Vice President, discusses these and other study findings with PLMA Live!’s Carol Angrisani. Click here for video.

In the stores

Target has a new line of private brand high-quality pet food called Kindfull. The products include wet and dry food, treats and toppers for both cats and dogs.

Publix has added plant-based chicken to its private label portfolio with the roll out of its first pea-based “chickenless” tenders. The new meatless chicken tenders with be sold under its GreenWise private label brand.

CVS Health is promoting its store brands with back-to-school items. Store brand deals include store-wide promotions that give ExtraCare Rewards loyalty members $10 back after spending $40 on qualifying back-to-school products.

Trader Joe’s has unveiled a new Vegan Cream Cheese. The cream cheese alternative is made from coconut oil mixed with potato starch and chickpea protein.

Aldi has introduced three cocktail-themed cheeses for its shoppers. The flavors include Peach Bellini, Piña Colada, and Espresso Martini. In 2016 Aldi released similar products with Tequila Lime Cheddar and a Piña Colada Cheddar cheese.

Online grocer FreshDirect has added Ahold Delhaize’s private brands to its stable of products. Nature’s Promise and premium tier private brand Taste of Inspirations will be among the Ahold brands that can be found at FreshDirect. 

Southeastern Grocers has opened a new liquor-store concept in its hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. The WDs Wine, Beer & Liquor store features a beer cave with more than 500 varieties, as well as more than 1,400 spirits and wine products.

The prepared meal delivery service Freshly is adding plant-based private label meals to its menu with its Purely Plant line of products. Some of the new meals include burritos, a vegan based pasta, and cauliflower mac and cheese. 

Sotheby’s has expanded its Own-Label Collection private label with six new wines. They include a rosé Champagne, Provence rosé, Pinot Grigio, Côtes du Rhône, Chianti Rúfina Riserva, and a Tuscan red blend.

Harris Teeter is selling its Hunter Farms dairy processing plant to Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Inc.

Market research
Loyal Gen Z Shoppers Could Drive Store Brand Sales

Opportunities arise for store brands targeting younger shoppers, according to Ubimo, a Quotient brand, and its recent consumer shopper study centered around pandemic behaviors.

The location intelligence platform Ubimo studied shopper behavior, comparing August of this year with behaviors from the same time-period in 2020. The study found shopper loyalty has increased since the pandemic’s impact, as 88% of the U.S. shoppers surveyed said they usually visit the same store, an increase of 5%. This was especially true for Generation Z. The study found 90% of Gen Z shoppers visited the same store for their shopping this year vs. only 73% a year ago.

 With younger consumers having a strong relationship with stores, retailers can act upon this and use their store brands to capitalize on that retail brand loyalty. How retailers reach those consumers is also important. According to the study, 80% of consumers think brand messaging is important, particularly in the wake of COVID-19. Compared to August of 2020, there was a 17% increase in consumers who believe that messaging is important, and a 22% increase in respondents who believe messaging is extremely important.

The Ubimo study also found a third of shoppers across all demographics make more shopping trips today than they did at the height of the pandemic. More than half said they have changed how they shop and now plan ahead more so they can make faster shopping trips.

Consumer Loyalty is Tied to Sustainability

Retailers and store brands that demonstrate sustainable and ethical business practices are more likely to earn a U.S. shopper’s loyalty, according to a study by Valassis.

Valassis, owned by the data intelligence company Vericast, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. shoppers attempting to identify the habits and perceptions of shoppers as they settled into a “new normal” of pandemic life.

 The 2021 Consumer Intel Report found a large majority of shoppers, regardless of their age, are more loyal to retailers and brands that demonstrate eco-friendly, ethical business practices.

The study found that consumers want retailers and brands to be more conscious about the Earth and social issues. The study found 72% of older adults, and parents of millennials, were more likely to be loyal to a brand or store that was environmentally responsible or has sustainable or ethical business practices. This is joined by 63% of millennials saying they’re willing to pay more for products if they were sustainable products.

Store brands could benefit by the study’s findings, especially in two key areas. In addition to social and environmental responsibility, 82% of respondents reported the most important thing when shopping for grocery products is to save the most money and going to a store with the lowest prices. Another 52% said that a sale will help them to make an impulse purchase.

PLMA News
PLMA Releases Study on SNAP Users

A new study from PLMA reveals that store brands can be a powerful ally for SNAP recipients to buy more products with their benefits, and for grocers to increase their share of the huge federal food assistance program.

SNAP is a big piece of the U.S. grocery business. As of April, there were 42 million persons and 22 million households enrolled in SNAP. The average per person and per household benefits were $203 and $386, respectively. Benefits can be used to purchase most foods and beverages but cannot be used to buy non-food items, such as vitamins and diapers. Combined, supermarkets and super stores redeem 82% of annual SNAP benefits while comprising only 15% of the program’s 250,000 authorized retailers. That amounts to $65 billion SNAP dollars spent in those retailers.

The PLMA study found SNAP recipients are strongly inclined to purchase store brands and have a deep awareness of the brands and products. The study also revealed beneficiaries have been satisfied when buying private label products in the past. About three in ten recipients purchase store brands at a high rate each time they use their SNAP benefits.

“The purpose of the study, which was prepared exclusively for retailers by PLMA, is to determine the habits and attitudes of recipients towards shopping in general and store brands in particular and with those findings produce a marketing roadmap retailers can use to encourage SNAP customers to spend more of their monthly benefits on store brands, thereby stretching their food dollars,” PLMA’s President Peggy Davies explained.

Respondents also expressed a very favorable opinion of store brands when asked to compare them to national brands on six important product attributes. They rated store brands “better than national brands” on all but one.

However, an almost equal number buy national brands at the same rate, supporting the study’s conclusion that store brands have ample room to grow in terms of sales among SNAP participants. If more beneficiaries did buy store brands, it would save them money and thereby help them obtain more products for their families. It could also benefit retailers if more money was spent on their store brands.

The savings accrued by opting for store brands over national brands can be significant. In related research, PLMA sponsored the purchase over a four-week period of multiple, typical market baskets consisting of about three dozen SNAP eligible products. The average savings realized when store brand products were purchased instead of the national brands were 38% when shopping in a major supermarket located in the northeast and 50% when shopping in a leading national mass merchandiser.

The PLMA survey also discovered most recipients are careful shoppers. Eight in 10 “always or frequently” buy eligible food products when they are on “sale in their favorite store,” while another eight in 10 typically use “all or nearly all” of their benefits each month. Sixty percent said they would find it “helpful” if SNAP items were marked as such on supermarket shelves. In addition, if their favorite stores were to accept SNAP benefits for online shopping, as more and more retail chains are beginning to do, almost half in the study said they would “always” or “frequently” use such a service.

The report comes at a time when SNAP participants have recently reached record numbers in the wake of the recession and the Biden administration is implementing plans to expand the program with an increase of 25% to recipients, which would expand the program by billions of dollars spent in retailers.

“Increasing their purchase of store brands with SNAP benefits is up to individual shoppers, of course,” adds PLMA’s Davies. “Still, U.S. retailers, consumer groups, NGOs and even federal and state agencies can play an important role by pointing out to recipients that they can stretch their benefits significantly by choosing store brands over national brands.”

The study, titled “Stretching Food Benefits: SNAP Recipients Speak Out on Shopping & Store Brands,” was based on data collected by Surveylab, a global leader in online research. A representative nationwide sample of more than 500 SNAP recipients participated in the survey, which was conducted in early 2021.

For more information on the study, please contact press@plma.com

PLMA Readies for Virtual 2021 Washington Conference

Registration is still open for PLMA’s 2021 Washington Conference, which will be held live and interactive on Zoom October 6 and 7.
Now that the Biden administration has settled in and Democrats hold majorities in both houses, what can store brand manufacturers and their retail partners expect from a legislative and regulatory perspective? Recent battles over the budget and other issues which could impact manufacturers and the industry, demonstrates government policy and legislation are constantly changing almost with each news cycle.

Registration for PLMA members is now offered at a special rate of $199, while non-member attendance is $350. Participation by retailers and wholesalers is complimentary.

For additional information about PLMA’s 2021 Washington Conference, please go to www.plma.com or contact Linda Morales at lmorales@plma.com or conferences@plma.com
PLMA is Open to New Membership

The Private Label Manufacturers Association is the only trade association devoted exclusively to the private label industry. Founded in 1979, PLMA currently has some 4,500 member companies. Membership is open to manufacturers, brokers, trade suppliers and other companies. PLMA members enjoy exclusive access and discounted pricing to PLMA events and services. For more information about membership, contact Barbara Cruz at (212) 972-3131, EXT. 1225 or bcruz@plma.com.

Events

Lunch and Learn this month focuses on Joint Business Planning: A Retailer & Supplier business planning process to accelerate & drive Private Brand development.