October 2021

Industry and Government News
PLMA’s Chicago Trade Show Moved to Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2022

Citing continued concerns about the Delta variant, the Private Label Manufacturers Association has postponed its annual Private Label Trade Show.

Originally planned for November 14-16, the rescheduled show, which is North America’s largest private label event, will be held in-person at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago from January 30 to February 1, 2022. 

PLMA President Peggy Davies is optimistic that between now and the end of January there will be significant nationwide progress on vaccinations – including shots available for children.

“Beginning in the new year, more companies will return to the office, corporate travel restrictions increasingly will be lifted, and people will become more comfortable gathering in large groups. And international borders will be reopened, an important factor for the large contingent of national pavilions that attend our Chicago Show,” Davies added.   

Despite the change of date, the show itself will be, as it has been in the past, filled with the latest innovations in food, beverages, nonfood, HBC, home goods and much more. Outstanding private label programs and products will once again be featured in The New Product Expo, Idea Supermarket® and PLMA's "Salute to Excellence."

PLMA pivoted from its in-person trade show last year to present Private Label Week at the start of this year, Feb. 1-5. The weeklong virtual event ushered in a proprietary online platform that supported more than 2,000 live video calls between manufacturers and retailers and garnered some 500,000 page views.

PLMA has been presenting its Private Label Trade Show in Chicago since 1980.

Costco Puts Purchasing Limits on Some Products

Costco is putting purchasing limits on some key items in its stores, the company has announced. Products such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, paper towels, bottled water and several cleaning products will have limits on how many can be purchased. Costco has not yet announced what the purchase limits may be.

Reports have surfaced that Costco had a one-item limit on the online purchase of its most popular brands of bulk toilet paper, such as Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue, as well as other paper products.

The new product limits are prompted by a different challenge than the ones faced in earlier phases of the pandemic, when stores saw unusually high demand for paper products and antibacterial wipes as customers stockpiled them.

Costco CFO Richard Galanti said Costco has been adding suppliers and stockpiling certain goods when possible. The company also has chartered three container ships next year to transport goods from Asia to the U.S. and Canada.

Meals Prepared at Home Begin to Rise Again

According to IRI, after sliding every month since the beginning of the year, the share of meals consumers prepared at home rose in August amid the nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases.

Consumers prepared almost 80% of their meals at home in August, up from 76.6% of meals made and eaten at home in July, according to IRI. The share of consumers who said they ate at a restaurant in August dropped slightly to 48% from 50% in July, which was the highest since the pandemic began. 

And the way consumers bought groceries for those meals prepared at home also changed. Online orders saw an uptick in August after several months of consumers making a growing share of their grocery purchases in-store, according to IRI.

Among fresh products ordered online, meat products seemed to lag. Only bacon and ground beef made the IRI list of the top 15 fresh items that consumers bought online.

However, things remain below the dramatic changes in 2020. Even with the increase in August, IRI concluded, the shifts were "nothing like the changes seen in 2020 or earlier this year."

Instacart to Start 24/7 Delivery at Select Retailers

Instacart is adding 24/7 delivery service from select retailers that are open around the clock.

The e-commerce company will provide the service to retailers such as Safeway, 7-Eleven, CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens at select stores. Additionally, Instacart is extending its regular hours for other retailers who are not 24/7 but open beyond Instacart’s traditional business hours.

Instacart's announcement is the latest effort by the delivery company to serve people looking to make late-night orders like snacks or urgently needed products like diapers or a recipe ingredient.

The move is likely a counterpunch to other delivery services like Gopuff, Gorillas, Jokr and other delivery companies who are meeting the demand for smaller, time-sensitive orders.

EPA to Adopt New Rules to Cut Emissions from Coolants

In a move that could have far-ranging impact on all aspects of the retail supply chain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is completing rules to reduce the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are potent greenhouse gases.

The rules create a process for reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons in cooling appliances and are the first step toward meeting new mandates to cut their supply by 85% over 15 years. Congress passed with bipartisan support the new mandate in December in a $2 trillion spending and COVID-19 aid package.

The rules would cut the equivalent of 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2022 through 2050, or almost three years of U.S. power-sector emissions at 2019 levels, the EPA said.

There is wide support for the new rules from industry, from U.S. chemical makers that have developed alternative coolant, and from retailers looking to reduce their contribution to climate change.

However, some companies are concerned about the quality and availability of the new rule-compliant coolant chemicals. Suppliers and customers fear prices could rise if the new rules get ahead of developing technology.

Walmart to Hire 150,000 New Store Associates

Walmart has announced plans to hire 150,000 new store associates, most of them for permanent, full-time roles. This follows plans to hire 20,000 workers for its supply chain for both Sam’s Club and Walmart distribution centers.

As competition for workers heats up due to the tight labor market, Walmart has tried to lure new associates by having them receive their schedules two weeks in advance and those interested candidates can apply in-store, online or using Walmart’s Me@Walmart app.

This hiring move also comes after the announcement in July that Walmart would cover 100% of tuition and books for eligible full and part-time workers. Target followed with a similar proposal for its employees, and has said it plans to hire 100,000 extra workers to meet seasonal demand,

Walmart’s average U.S. hourly wage now stands at $16.40, and entry-level associates are promoted to roles with greater responsibility and higher pay within seven months on average, according to the company. In making the announcement, Walmart highlighted the fact that around 75% of its U.S. salaried store managers started in an hourly role with the company.

Retailers across all channels have had difficulty finding employees and the labor shortage has shown no signs of easing, which is especially worrying with the high-demand holiday season coming, often the busiest time for retailers all year. 

Bucking its Image: Dollar Tree to Sell Items Above $1

The discount chain Dollar Tree announced it is increasing the prices of some of its products above its traditional dollar price. The retailer said it plans to sell products at $1.25 and $1.50 or other prices slightly above $1 in some of its stores.

The move comes as supply-chain problems, inflation and a tight labor market have all push costs higher. All stores with Dollar Tree Plus sections will get more products above the $1 price points, as well as some legacy stores without the special section. In 2019, Dollar Tree first experimented with selling items for $3 and $5 in a shelf section labeled Dollar Tree Plus. Those tests are continuing in a few hundred of its 7,900 Dollar Tree stores.

Increasing prices above the $1 price point, the company explained, will allow Dollar Tree to offer new products such as more frozen meat or seasonal items, and the move could encourage some shoppers to spend more per trip to the store. Pressure from investors has focused on the company increasing its price points to increase profits.

Rite Aid Expands Delivery Service with Uber Eats

Rite Aid is expanding its partnership with Uber Eats to offer same-day delivery of grocery and healthcare products. The new deal will mean delivery is now available from 2,185 Rite Aid drugstores across 17 states for consumers using the Uber Eats service.

To place an order, customers open the Uber Eats app, tap the convenience or pharmacy icons, select Rite Aid, and begin shopping. Users can choose from a full catalog of healthcare and grocery products from their local Rite Aid store. Uber Eats now becomes Rite Aid’s latest partner for on-demand delivery service for products.

The chain has offered same-day delivery of groceries and OTC health products at all its stores for the past year using Instacart. In May, Rite Aid announced an agreement to have DoorDash handle same-day delivery of many products.

Martha Stewart Kitchen Brand to Launch in 10,000 Stores

Martha Stewart Kitchen will launch more than 40 frozen food meals, side dishes and desserts in grocery stores nationwide in November.

The rollout is Martha Stewart's first licensing agreement of its kind, with a collection of signature recipes to offer consumers frozen meal solutions. The brand will be available in over 10,000 retail outlets. More than 17 major retailers will showcase the new line of products, including Kroger, Walmart, Winn Dixie, Publix, Albertsons/Safeway, Hannaford, Jewel Osco, Meijer, and ShopRite.

The Martha Stewart Kitchen line includes more than 40 offerings, from frozen appetizers and desserts to entrées, side dishes, ready-to-heat grain blends and seasonal vegetables. Later this year and in 2022, the company plans to introduce dozens of new premium products in an expansion of the line. 

Current products include Martha’s Mother’s Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese; Pigs in a Blanket; Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese; Sicilian-Style Beef Stew; Chicken Curry; Carrot Cake, and Double Chocolate Brownies, among others.

PLMA Live!
PLMA Live! News Desk: New Dates, Same Great Private Label Trade Show

PLMA’s highly anticipated Private Label Trade Show is still on - just two months later than originally planned. It will take place in-person Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, 2022, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. PLMA Vice President Anthony Aloia shares all the details of this can’t-miss event. Plus, PLMA's Salute to Excellence Awards have honored retailers for more than 30 years for innovation in store brands. Get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the products that were entered into the competition. Click here to view video.

PLMA Live! Interview: Board Chair Discusses New PLMA Study on $100B SNAP Market

PLMA Chairperson Clay Dockery explains the role a new PLMA study on SNAP recipients can play in increasing sales of store brands in this $100 billion market. Hosted by PLMA Live!’s Joe Azzinaro. Click here for video.

In the stores

Tops Market is expanding its selection of its store brand Origins coffee line. These new 54 varieties are sourced from around the world and include Ethiopian, Sumatran, Costa Rican, and Columbian Supremo flavors.

Trader Joe's has released its annual collection of store brand pumpkin products specially for the fall season. They include Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s cookies, Pumpkin Bread & Muffin mix, Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, Pumpkin Bisque and Pumpkin Cheesecake, among others.

Target is getting ready for Halloween by bringing back its own brand Hyde & EEK! Boutique collection. The collection includes 1,178 items which range from costumes for young children, adults, and even pets. The line also includes indoor and outdoor Halloween décor.

Sprouts Farmers Market has added four new fall season products under its private label line. They include Sprouts Pumpkin Cream Pie, Sprouts Flavored Coconut Rolls, Sprouts Peruvian Kettle Chips, and USDA Choice Kalbi Beef and Island Jerk Turkey Burgers.

Albertsons Cos. has received the Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the company’s efforts to provide products using safer chemicals with its Safer Choice certified Own Brand products.

Michigan-based supermarket chain Meijer has expanded a new marketing campaign to now include more of its store brands. The Confidence Beyond Measure campaign will be expanded to include men’s and kid’s apparel.

Meal subscription service Blue Apron has introduced its first line of private label products. The Heat & Eat line includes frozen microwaveable prepared meals, including cheesy guajillo chicken & rice, soy-miso chicken & noodles, and Calabrian meatballs with mashed potatoes.

Petco announced it is expanding its popular monthly PupBox subscription service. The new boxes are designed to serve different stages of a dog’s life. They include Puppy, Young Pup, Grown Pup and Senior Pup for older dogs.

Market research
Consumers Switching Brands is Widespread

Inmar Intelligence has found more than eight in 10 consumers purchased a brand other than the one they normally purchase over the past three months.

The research, which was featured in Food Dive, found lower prices of alternative brands influenced more than 65% of shoppers to “often” or “very often” buy other brands while out-of-stocks motivated 51% of consumers to make a switch.

Among shoppers who did switch brands, 4 in 10 said they would repurchase the new brand even if their original choice became available again. Another 36% said they would return to the original brand they intended to purchase.

Dry grocery goods like cookies and cereals were especially vulnerable to consumers switching brands. Nearly 66% of consumers opted for alternative brands in dry grocery goods according to Inmar.

Other categories who were impacted by brand switching included frozen foods with 55%, non-alcoholic beverages with 46% and alcohol at 42%, according to the study.

In addition, Inmar found getting consumers to switch back to their original choices could be difficult, especially when out of stocks make consumers question future availability.

The study could signal a major opportunity for store brands. As supply chain pressures impact the choice of products on the shelves and rising prices from inflation, it is a combination which could make store brand products stand out more to consumers.

Study: Private Brands Perform Well with Vaccinated Shoppers

A new study has focused on what private brand products shoppers vaccinated against COVID-19 are buying.

Numerator, a data market research company, published a ‘Vaccinated Shopper Score’ report, in which products, retailers and brands were identified and ranked by percentage from 230,000 responses from vaccinated shoppers.

Consumers had high marks for store brands from several retailers. Trader Joe’s had two store brands in the Top 5, including Charles Shaw and Trader Ming, which finished first and second overall among grocery private label brands. Also in the Top 5 was Food You Feel Good About from Wegmans in third, Whole Foods Market finished fourth while the Hannaford brand finished 5th. The Fresh Market and Safeway also had products in the top 10.

The Numerator study found retailers with higher Vaccinated Shopper Scores tended to have more private label brands as was demonstrated by Trader Joe’s and Wegmans.

In health and beauty, while national brand skin care products were most likely to be purchased by vaccinated shoppers, private label did have a strong showing as well. BJ Wholesale’s Berkley Jensen line finished first among private label brands in health and beauty while Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco and Food Lion also had HBC products in the top five among store brands.

CVS and Amazon private label brands both claimed two places in the top 10. Amazon’s Basic Care’s score put it in 9th place while Solimo finished in 10th.

PLMA’S Washington Conference Addresses Critical Issues

PLMA’s Washington Conference in early October addressed key issues impacting retailers and manufacturers alike. Supply chain problems, an update on FDA labeling, and the SNAP program were some of the topics addressed at the event, which again was held virtually and moderated by Erik Winborn, founder of Winborn Solutions.

Dr. Claudine Kavanaugh, director of the FDA’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, told how the agency is looking to improve healthier eating and awareness through labeling. Areas of focus include reducing sodium intake, labels on food allergies, foods derived from cultured animal cells and labels for plant-based milk alternatives.

The conference also examined the $85 billion SNAP program and how it could play a significant role for private brand sales. Laura Griffin, the Department of Agriculture’s senior policy advisor for SNAP, provided an overview. PLMA recently released a report on the potential for increased purchase of store brands given their popularity with SNAP participants. She said the department is doing more to educate shoppers about healthier eating and retailers could weigh in by highlighting eligible healthy store brand products in-store.

Jonathan Gold, VP of supply chain and customs policy, National Retail Foundation, discussed supply chain infrastructure requirements and how shortages of truck drivers and empty shipping containers have disrupted the flow of all types of products.

Other presenters were Ryan Lizza, White House reporter and editor at Politico; Ed Goeas, president and CEO of The Tarrance Group; Stevan Mitchell, director of the Office of Intellectual Property Rights, Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, and Anthony Quinn, chief of standards, Department of Commerce International Trade Administration.

PLMA’s next Washington Conference will be held in-person Sept. 19-21, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.

PLMA Prepares for ‘World of Private Label’ Show in Amsterdam

The Dutch government has announced it is easing COVID-19 restrictions around large-scale events, which means PLMA’s “World of Private Label” trade show December 14-15 is ready to go.

“These new measures pave the way for international business gatherings,” PLMA President Peggy Davies commented. “I look forward to hearing the buzz of in-person conversations between exhibitors and visitors. We all have missed the energy and the dynamics of a live trade show.”

Held at the RAI Amsterdam, more than 1,700 private label manufacturers from 65 countries have registered as exhibitors, while by the time the doors open, PLMA expects to welcome nearly 2,000 exhibitors, including 45 national and regional pavilions from 30 countries.

The show will also feature the New Product Expo and PLMA’s winners of its International Salute to Excellence program. The theme of this year's PLMA 'World of Private Label' is 'Back to Business', which is a nod to the private label industry’s emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although many restrictions have been eased, PLMA will continue to focus on ensuring the trade show is as safe as possible, including extra-wide aisles and additional health and safety measures.

“I encourage all retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers to come to Amsterdam to reconnect with their international industry colleagues,” Davies added. “PLMA is ready, excited and eager to welcome back the private label industry to its annual trade show.”

For more information about the show, visit www.plmainternational.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, please visit www.plma.com  or contact Barbara Cruz at (212) 972-3131, EXT. 1225 or bcruz@plma.com.