Issue #2 of 104
Jan. 29, 2022

Industry and Government News
PLMA’s Salute to Excellence Winners Announced

PLMA’s 2021 Salute to Excellence winners in private label have been revealed after more than 770 submissions from 52 North American retailers, the highest number of entries PLMA has received since the program began in 1986.

The winners consisted of more than 80 products across various categories. The Salute to Excellence awards reflected standout trends, such as products in the eco-friendly household goods category, organic foods, baking products, specialty beverages and self-care.

“The winners exemplify how store brands go above-and-beyond consumer expectations,” said PLMA President Peggy Davies. “They represent exceptional quality, value and innovation.” 

Winners include: Equate Eucalyptus Congestion Relief & Aromatherapy Shower Spray from Walmart; Mini Rose Hydrosol from 365 by Whole Foods Market; Kroger Hydro Go Caffeinated Water; Bamboo Bath Tissue from Sprouts; Total Home Earth Essentials Compostable Birch Cutlery from CVS;  Culinaria Raspberry-Lemon Italian Soda from Schnuck Markets; Nature's Nectar Aloe Vera Drink from Aldi; Seven Farms Organic Vanilla Almond Granola from Federated Group;  Organic White Jasmine Rice from Thrive Market; Lidl Organic Coconut Flour.

All submissions were grouped into one of several categories, including Meal Preparation, Beverages, Health & Beauty, Food for the Family, Healthy Eating, Snacks, Bakery & Desserts, Dairy and Home & Household. Each product was evaluated by a panel of professional and consumer judges on several criteria, including taste, sensory appeal, packaging, presentation, and value for money. 

Usually, the awards are unveiled during the Private Label Trade Show in Chicago, which was canceled out of health and safety concerns due to the pandemic. For a list of the winners click here.

PLMA’s Lunch & Learn Series Continues February 24

PLMA’s popular Lunch & Learn speaker series will continue Feb. 24 with a presentation from global taste and nutrition company Kerry about its research on the private label consumer and new product development strategies for companies.

The presentation will feature two Kerry executives: Elizabeth Horvath, Vice President of Marketing, and Sarah Miller, Marketing Insights Manager. They will discuss Kerry’s private label consumer research that identifies two key private label consumer groups: practical traditionalists and adventure seekers.

The program will explore the distinct attitudes of each group and strategies for new product development across food and beverage categories. Kerry’s new Online Product Development Simulator interactive tool will also be demonstrated. The live online one-hour presentation will start at 12:30 p.m. EST. A Q & A session will be included.

“The Lunch and Learn presentation by Kerry will outline store brand food and beverage innovation with taste and nutrition solutions,’ said PLMA President Peggy Davies.

This is the latest in a series of PLMA Lunch & Learn events planned for 2022. The first was held in January with a presentation from IRI. Another Lunch & Learn program will be held April 28.

For more information, please contact Registration is free for PLMA members and retailers.

Latest PLMA/IRI Statistics Released on February 1st

The latest exclusive store brand monthly sales data from IRI’s Unify service is expected to be posted on on February 1. The results are available to all registered members and retailers.

Unify provides monthly IRI store brand sales data for PLMA members and retailers in category, aisle, and department sales performance over four, 12 and 52 weeks. The sales data cover numerous channels - including food, drug, mass merchandisers, military, dollar, club, and convenience stores – across 317 categories and 967 sub-categories.

Unify features an interactive, highly graphic interface to help users better understand market performance and how their businesses can compete. After the February update, the next report is scheduled March 1.

Walmart Preparing to Enter the Metaverse

Walmart appears to be making its first entry into the metaverse with plans to create its own cryptocurrency and collection of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

The big-box retailer filed several new trademarks late last month that indicate its intent to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods, and personal care products. In a separate filing, the company said it would offer users a virtual currency, as well as NFTs.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reported that Walmart filed the applications on Dec. 30 and a total of seven separate applications have been submitted by the retailer.

Walmart said in a statement responding to the story that it is “continuously exploring how emerging technologies may shape future shopping experiences.”

“We are testing new ideas all the time,” the company said. “Some ideas become products or services that make it to customers. And some we test, iterate, and learn from.”

Walmart is not alone in looking to the metaverse. In recent months companies like Nike, Gap, and Ralph Lauren, among others, have all submitted trademark requests.

Target CEO sees consumers buying store brands, making fewer trips

Speaking at the recent National Retail Federation show in New York, Target CEO Brian Cornell predicted that in the coming months Americans will be buying more store brands as they seek ways to fight inflation. In his keynote, he forecast shoppers will drive less and make fewer shopping trips this year due to rising gas prices and other inflationary pressures.

"You’ll drive fewer miles, you’ll consolidate the number of times and locations where you shop," Cornell said. "You’ll probably spend a little more eating at home versus your favorite restaurant, and you might make some trade-offs between a national brand and an own brand."  

"We're going to learn a lot about how the consumer reacts in the next 60, 90, 120 days to rising prices," Cornell added.

Despite the pandemic and economic pressures, he pointed out that shoppers still want the retail store experience. “They came out to shop. They were out physically shopping in our stores. They returned to shopping malls. They were engaged. They wanted to be out there enjoying what retail can provide. It gives me incredible optimism for the future.”

Amazon to Open Physical Clothing Store

Amazon has announced plans to open a clothing store called Amazon Style. The store will be the company’s first physical store selling clothing and will be in Glendale, California.

The store will be based heavily on technology and convenience for shoppers. Amazon said that through its Amazon Shopping app it would provide customers with real-time recommendations and enable them to use the app to send items to a fitting room or pickup counter.

Shoppers could also scan the QR codes to see if other sizes or colors of the items they are interested in are available. Items will range in price from $10 to $400, Amazon said, and the store will be about 30,000 square feet, several times larger than a typical specialty mall store.

Butter Prices Skyrocket 40%

The weekly average price of grade AA butter hit $2.66 per pound in the first week of January, up 40% when compared to the same period a year ago, according to a USDA report. Butter prices also rose 3.7% during December.

Labor shortages and higher packaging material costs, as well as reduced livestock herds, are all explanations for the increase. In a recent weekly report, the USDA noted that ongoing labor and freight shortages will continue to limit the butter supply in 2022. This could mean continuing price increases throughout the year. Year to date, overall butter production has also declined 2.8%.

The huge increase in butter prices has not been seen in other dairy products. For instance, the price index for dairy rose 1.6% in 2021, compared to 6.4% for all food at home, according to the Labor Department.

Kroger Testing Ghost Kitchen in an L.A. Ralphs

Kroger’s has announced its latest in-store ghost kitchen test with a Kitchen United Mix location inside a Ralphs store in Los Angeles that serves meals from 10 different restaurants for pickup or delivery.

Customers can order meals from multiple restaurant brands and have everything delivered together for one delivery fee. Kroger and Kitchen United started working together last summer and Kroger expects to open more ghost kitchens in Texas, reportedly in Dallas and Houston.

Ghost kitchens give grocers a way to compete with restaurant takeout and delivery and offers an option for shoppers who have made ordering meals online a regular part of their lives. During the pandemic, supermarkets came under increased pressure to provide options to consumers as takeout and deliveries from restaurants became stiff competition for share of stomach.

Hy-Vee Launches Ship-to-Home Site

Hy-Vee has launched a ship-to-home site offering more than 5,000 better-for-you products and wellness tips. The site, called WholeLotta Good, ships vitamins, health food and beauty products to homes across the country and offers free delivery on orders over $49.

WholeLotta Good has a special section devoted to Hy-Vee’s new gluten-free private label line, Good Graces. The site also offers a wide variety of products including grocery items, vitamins and supplements, household supplies and beauty products, among others.

Visiting gives shoppers health and wellness advice with blog posts written by Hy-Vee dietitians. Recent entries covered the benefits of avocado oil, how to add more vitamin D into diets and adding more plant-based foods into meal plans. 

Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee’s chairperson and CEO said in a press release announcing WholeLotta Good  “With the launch of WholeLotta Good, we can now bring our extensive offerings to customers across the country through a site that’s convenient, affordable and easy to use. It’s all part of our mission to make lives easier, healthier and happier.”

Instacart Launches Prepared Meal Delivery for Supermarkets

Instacart has started a new system to help supermarkets compete with restaurants for consumers’ meal dollars. The company has launched Ready Meals as part of its app. It is a new prepared meal ordering and delivery service specifically for grocery stores.

Ready Meals makes available delivery of hundreds of meals from chains such as Publix Super Markets, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize USA’s Giant and Food Lion, among others. Wakefern Food Corp.’s and ShopRite are expected to also have meals available from Instacart in the coming weeks.

Through the Instacart app’s Ready Meals Hub section, prepared foods can be ordered and delivered to customer’s home in as soon as 30 minutes. The Ready Meals Hub is available to consumers in 35 states and they can order fresh meals from more than 4,100 grocery stores, according to Instacart.

The fresh food market is a growing opportunity for supermarkets. The U.S. chilled and deli food market is projected to reach more than $108 billion in sales by 2026 from about $40 billion as of October 2021, according to Instacart and market analytics firm Research and Markets.

PLMA Live!
An Interview with dunnhumby about Top Grocer List

Grant Steadman, president of North America for dunnhumby, has given an exclusive interview to PLMA Live! about dunnhumby’s annual Retailer Preference Index (RPI). The exclusive interview can be found here.

For the second year in a row, Amazon has topped the RPI ranking, which is based on an online survey of 10,000 households and grocery retailer performance in various categories and how it creates emotional bonds with customers, as well as their short-term and long-term financial performance.

In addition to Amazon, H-E-B, and Market Basket both finished high in the survey, coming in at second and third place, respectively. Wegmans landed the fourth spot in the index, and it was the first time the grocer appeared in the RPI while Amazon Fresh scored high with consumers and landed in the fifth spot.

The other retailers in the RPI Top 10 in overall customer preference are Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Target, Publix, Walmart, BJ’s Wholesale and Fareway.

In a press release, Steadman cited the growth of mid-sized grocers finishing higher in the latest survey because of covid and changes in the industry.

“The challenges for most other retailers are significant, but a number of mid-size grocers gained momentum by understanding their customers better and differentiating their offering accordingly,” Steadman said.

“The pandemic has massively accelerated changes in how customers buy their groceries, and their behaviors are continuing to evolve,” said Steadman. “2021 was the year that grocery retail became truly omni-channel. Retailers who delivered on their customers evolving needs in-store and online performed best. This was mostly the larger players, who used their advantages to consolidate their positions.”

The report can be downloaded from the dunnhumby website.

Store Brand Growth in Inflationary Times

Private brands are gaining share in high-inflation categories such as meat and frozen foods, according to IRI. Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) Davey, President of Client Engagement, discusses these and other findings from IRI’s “CPG Market Review and 2022 Outlook" report. All this and more in this exclusive PLMA Live! interview with host Carol Angrisani. Click here for video.

In the stores

Delivery service Gopuff is starting its inaugural line of private brands with various food and nonfood products called “Basically.” The first product is bottled water but soon the company will have batteries, cleaning and paper products, cutlery, and food storage products available for shoppers.

Sur La Table has announced it is launching an updated line of store brand cookware, which will include tools, bakeware, and tableware. The cookware line will feature enameled cast iron, five-ply stainless steel and ceramic nonstick products and will be available at Sur La Table stores and on its website.

Trader Joe's has combined two consumer fast food favorites into one store brand product with the release of the new Trader Joe's Cheeseburger Burrito. The new burrito combines the ingredients of cheeseburgers and burritos and contains beef with cheddar cheese, onions, tomatoes, relish, and pickles, all in a flour tortilla.

The Chicago based convenience chain Foxtrot is looking to grow its private label assortment by more than 200 products, according to reports. Foxtrot received an increase of $100 million in funding and it is planning to use it to create and launch 200 new private label SKUs throughout the year.

Buyk is increasing its private-label business with the introduction of new products such as coffee and ice cream. The lineup from the delivery startup will also include gummies and candies and various meats like steak, chicken, and pork chops. Buyk cited the success of its recently released private brand breads and pastries as a major reason for the expansion.

Bed Bath & Beyond will be expanding its private brands into the baby category for its buybuy Baby locations in the coming weeks. The company has released several new store brands over the past 18 months but this is the first for its buybuy Baby stores.

JCPenney has unveiled a new purpose-driven line of apparel called Hope & Wonder. The store brand line is designed to help families celebrate various holidays and cultural moments. Proceeds are donated to local non-profit groups. For the first line, the Black History Month collection, 100% of net proceeds go to Black Girls Smile.

Market research
Podcast Listeners More Likely to Order Meal Kits and Deliveries

Nielsen has found adult podcast listeners are more than twice as likely than non-listeners to order meal-delivery kits and have nearly double the propensity to use restaurant and grocery delivery services.

From last May through November, restaurant delivery rose 3.7% among podcast listeners. In the same period, grocery delivery increased 3% and meal kits, 1.2%.

As of November, 28.2% of podcast listeners had used restaurant delivery in the past 30 days, compared to 14% of non-listeners. The figures for grocery delivery services were 11.6% versus 5.7%, and for meal-kit delivery, 6% and 2.3%.

But what genres of podcasts are people listening to making them more likely to use these services? The “Kids & Family” category is tops among those who use grocery delivery services while “True Crime” is a favorite among patrons of restaurant-delivery services. “TV & Film” podcast listeners rank highest when it comes to meal-kit delivery.

Nielsen cited 50% of podcast listening is now happening at home, up 10% from three years ago. “The broadening of the podcast audience combined with the rise in at-home listening speaks to a notable shift from who the typical podcast listener was five years ago,” Nielsen’s Podcast Listening Buyer Power study concludes.

Just one food delivery service, HelloFresh, is among the top 10 podcast advertisers, according to Magellan AI, which analyzes podcast ad data from the top 3,000 U.S. podcasts as ranked by Apple Podcasts. McDonald’s seems to have recognized this trend as their podcast ad spending rose dramatically from $1.2 million in 2020 to $3.2 million in 2021.

Online U.S. Grocery Market Nears $100 Billion

U.S. online grocery sales reached nearly $98 billion last year, according to Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey.

In 2021, the online grocery market totaled $97.7 billion in sales by pickup, delivery, and ship-to-home channels. Brick Meets Click found 93 million households, or more than 70% of U.S. households, received one or more orders during the year.

This reflects the continuing growth of groceries online over the years. In 2021, online grocery garnered a 13% share of total grocery spending, an increase of almost two percentage points from 2020.

Last year, the average number of online grocery orders placed by monthly active users stood at 2.74 per month, which is down 1% from 2020. However, Brick Meets Click cited volatility in 2021’s monthly order frequency which fell 60% when compared to 2020 levels. This indicated buying patterns were becoming more entrenched at an elevated level; about 35% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Mass merchants remain the toughest online competition for supermarkets and other grocery retailers. In December, the share of shoppers who placed at least one online order a month with a mass merchant climbed 29%, a record high according to Brick Meets Click.

The study was conducted on Dec. 29 and 30 by Brick Meets Click and polled 1,836 U.S. adults who participated in their household’s grocery shopping and made an online grocery purchase in the previous 30 days. The national research was also sponsored by Mercatus.

PLMA Global, Online Trade Show, Set for March 28-31

The Private Label Manufacturers Association is launching an online trade show called PLMA Global. It is a newly imagined, worldwide event that will combine the exhibitors and buyers from the organization’s industry-defining, in-person Chicago and Amsterdam events. PLMA Global will take place March 28 to 31.

“The platform will support the connection between PLMA member-exhibitors and store brand buyers representing leading supermarkets, drug chains, mass merchandisers, supercenters, specialty retailers, dollar stores, club stores, convenience stores and other formats. We believe that during the last four days of March, our platform will become the digital hub of the retailer brands industry,” said Davies.

Buyers can search for suppliers by name, product category, description, or marketplace trend, or by country, continent, or any combination thereof. PLMA Global will add various online features for both exhibitors and visitors and will support real time conversations and meetings with features like one-on-one or group video calls, product demos, downloadable documents, and videos and more. 

Exhibitors will be able to meet with buyers live online 24/7 during the event and the platform will remain open for another three months for follow-up, or for a new visit by buyers who could not log in during formal show days.

Efficient appointment scheduling is the most important feature of the virtual event which will allow buyers to join the platform as it fits their schedule and time zone. Buyers can request video call appointments from exhibitors even before the show opens. Calls can be one-on-one or group calls involving multiple participants representing store brand suppliers as well as retail chains.

Exhibitors will also receive one entire webpage on the platform and will be able to display images of their featured products along with detailed descriptions. Additional company and product information can be shared through downloadable documents or promotional videos, including keywords.

For questions regarding PLMA Global, please call +1 212-972-3131 or email at

e-Scanner Now Arrives Twice a Month

PLMA is pleased to announce that starting with this issue, PLMA’s e-Scanner will be emailed to subscribers twice a month. The next issue will be sent February 12. For over 25 years, e-Scanner has provided important association, private brand, and industry news as well as targeted reporting of retail, product, category, and consumer trends in the In the Stores and Market Research sections. With bi-monthly editions, PLMA will double down on its industry coverage.