Industry and Government News
Top Dutch Retailers Join International Alliances

Ahold Delhaize is joining Eurelec, the retail purchasing alliance created in 2016 by German Rewe Group and French market leader E. Leclerc. Together, the three would represent a net turnover of approximately €155 billion. With the extra strength of Ahold, the association wants to achieve fair and realistic consumer prices by cross-border purchasing. Eurelec buys, amongst others, groceries, frozen food, beverages, cleaning products and cosmetics for its members and it is the one central point of contact for the large international manufacturers.

Ahold Delhaize is also a member of international alliance AMS, which buys private labels for its members. Ahold, Rewe and Leclerc are also member of Coopernic, which negotiates commercial conditions for its members.

At about the same time, Dutch second retailer, Jumbo, announced that it is joining forces with European purchasing clubs Everest and Epic Partners. Both alliances focus on negotiations with international brand suppliers. Everest’s main other partner is German market leader Edeka. Online supermarket Picnic and French player Système U also collaborate in Everest. 

Like Eurelec, Everest is an independent company that takes care of the entire negotiations for the shareholders. The retailers participating in the two alliances will have a stronger negotiating position with these new important members. It is expected that cross-border price differences will largely disappear under influence of the new purchasing clubs. Depending on the competition authorities, they will start operating in the new composition as of 2024 or 2025.

New EU Rules on Packaging Seek to Aid Environment

Last month, MEPs of the Environmental Committee adopted proposals to make packaging easier to reuse and recycle, to reduce unnecessary packaging and waste and to promote the use of recycled content in packaging. The so-called PPWR, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, is part of the EU’s Green Deal. The Commission launched the proposal for the PPWR last year.

The introduction of the regulation would have a huge impact on packaging and the packaging industry. Packaging analysts from Rabobank foresee that packaging producers will need to revise their product portfolios and sourcing processes to ensure they are able to comply with the requirements. They expect some substitution between packaging materials. Investment in infrastructure for waste collection and recycling, as well as for the implementation of new systems like DRS, will be needed to match the target set. Finally, it is thought that market harmonization will be essential for the regulation’s success.

Many retailers are anticipating the PPWR and have started to ask their own label suppliers to unravel their packaging supply chain and determine for every single piece what it is, where it comes from, how it can be improved or whether it can be eliminated.

The PPWR is still under discussion and with each stage there will be amendments to the proposal. The final text is expected in the spring of 2024 and introduction in the national laws of each member state in early 2025.

After Shrinkflation Now We Face Skimpflation?

Consumer associations are sounding the alarm bell for what they see as increasing skimpflation. This means manufacturers that reformulate recipes or change ingredients in order to save costs. The organizations say they see, for example,  frozen vegetables containing a smaller percentage of the vegetable than before and more water instead, or margarine with a smaller percentage of fat and more water in the package. There are manufacturers that reduce the amount of olive oil in spreads and sauces, others reduce the percentage of alcohol in wine. Some of the changes are small but they all involve the reduction of key, and expensive, ingredients.

In many cases there is no information on packaging to indicate anything has changed. Foodwatch, a European-wide watchdog in the food sector, calls for more transparency from food manufacturers when they change the recipe or size of their products. Earlier, manufacturers were accused of shrinkflation, ‘quietly’ downsizing the content in the packaging while keeping the price the same or even increasing the price.

Aldi Nord on Fast Expansion Track

Aldi is targetting hundreds of new stores in Europe. In its new three-year plan, it aims for over 6,000 stores in Europe by 2026. That means about 700 more stores than it operates now. The plan comes with investments in the amount of billions of Euros. It should push the growth of the discounter.

In recent years, the company has restructured its organization, expanded, and modernized logistics. For a smoother flow of goods, more precise forecasts, and lower markdowns, it invested in warehouses, hubs, and IT. The greatest potential for expansion is seen in Poland, France, and Spain.

Aldi is also finetuning its private label lines. While it carried 300 different private label brand names, it is bringing the number of names back to about 60. The company says that in the months to come, customers will be seeing visible changes in the stores. Own brands will be merged and relaunched under new names and others will simply be modernised. The number of private label SKUs will remain the same, but there will be fewer and stronger own brand names. The aim is to increase recognisability. The project should be finalised in 2024.

EU Considers Ban on Goods Made With 'Forced Labour'

The EU is investigating the possible stopping of goods entering the Union if they were produced using "forced labour." A system would be set up in which a list of high-risk areas and sectors would be created.

When a company wants to import goods from the list, or produced in areas from the list, the burden to proof that no forced labour was used would fall on the company, not on the authorities.

If forced labour was used, all import and export of the related goods would be halted at the EU borders and companies would also have to withdraw goods that have already reached the EU market. These would then be donated, recycled, or destroyed.

PLMA Live!
What’s Next for Plant-Based?

The plant-based category has been experiencing growing pains: falling sales and large manufacturers seeing downgrade of their stocks. But the key driving factor behind the trend – consumer demand – isn’t slowing down. Judith Kolenburg provides an update on the category. Plus, Pascal Kuipers outlines how companies like Carrefour, Tesco, Aldi, or the Schwarz Group want their suppliers to develop products with a lower footprint in order to reach net-zero targets.

In the stores

Lidl has started a six-month trial will refillable detergent packaging in the Netherlands. The stations contain three private label detergents and one private label fabric softener.

Asda is planning to introduce no less than 300 new ready meal ranges under four private label sub-brands: Bom Bahia (Indian inspired), House of Yum (pan-Asian), Bistro (elevated pub favourites) and Take-out Club (pizza style).

dm will stop using the label “climate neutral” on products and will instead use the term “environmentally neutral” following a legal dispute in Germany.

Dia has reformulated its bread range to be completely without additives. The packaging was changed to be sustainable, 100% paper, which allows a reduction of approximately 100 tons of plastic.

Superdrug introduced a new own brand skincare range called B. Menopause for women going through the menopause. Kate Beavis, menopause wellness practitioner and TikTok influencer is to help promote the range.

Aldi has created its own apple variety. Under the name of Aldiamo the new apply will be available exclusively in all 2,000 Aldi Süd stores in Germany.

Coop Italia has launched a new own brand line called Spesotti. The line comprises around 300 products across 75 categories, food and non-food and it is intended to have a high savings potential.

Kruidvat is donating a health and beauty voucher of 25€ to 5,000 Belgians in poverty. The voucher can be used for care products in stores or online. To avoid any embarrassment the voucher looks the same as a regular Kruidvat gift card.

Amazon has launched its first private label ad campaign for its By Amazon brand. It is intended to increase awareness of the fact that Amazon does food. The By Amazon brand has grown significantly since launch to hundreds of products across multiple categories.

Tesco cut the VAT, lowering the prices by 20%, on its children’s own brand oral care products. The retailer wants to help in the fight against kids’ tooth decay by making the range more affordable.

Netto Nord is equipping 200 of its German stores with digital screens in order to start offering retail media marketing.

BM is unifying the various own brands that it had in stores under a new own brand called BM. The new brand includes around 1,200 items and will gradually be put on the shelves in the coming months.

Auchan has opened its first autonomous store in Poland, Auchan Go. The store offers 1,200 SKUs. Private label makes up 40% of the range and it is well showcased in the store.

Bilka has opened the first new concept hypermarket in Denmark. The interior of the store got a complete makeover and is divided into five different shopping areas. One of the areas is a “World Food” department with more than 600 SKUs.

Delhaize is equipping the parkings at its stores with 1,200 electrical fast charging stations. In the future, it will connect the stations with its loyalty programme to offer advantages to customers.

Market research
2024 Global Consumer Trends Identified

Analysts from Mintel have identified five trends that will be shaping consumer behaviour in 2024 and beyond. The trends that the company thinks will have an impact on marketing and innovation are:

Being Human: In a world increasingly dominated by algorithms, we will need human skills and emotion to make the most of this technological revolution.

More Than Money: Consumers will reassess what matters most to them, affecting not only what they want and need, but their perception of what constitutes value.

Relationship Renaissance: Consumers who find comfort through screens at the cost of meaningful, real-life relationships, will seek new forms of intimacy for the sake of their physical and mental health.

New Green Reality: Incorporating sustainability into the day-to-day is not enough; consumers and brands will be faced with the reality that survival within a new climate context has to be the priority.

Positive Perspectives: Brands and consumers will work together in new ways to deal with uncertainty.

Private Label Pet Food Booming, Says Study

Research by Circana shows that EU retailers increased their share in the €10.8 billion pet nutrition segment by 18% (about €3.6 billion) during 2022 across Europe’s six largest pet markets — France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. In the last quarter of 2022, EU retailers ramped up their market share by 25%.

Private label products now boast a 34% value share in the pet food sector throughout Europe, with the largest shares in Germany and Spain. Though inflation and pet ownership are strong influencers of the European pet food market’s growth, innovation in the space also rose to 39%, says Circana.

New product launches in pet food, including both private label and national brands, accounted for 9% of total pet food sales in 2022, according to Circana’s data. This increase in innovation was most apparent in Germany and the Netherlands, with new product launches contributing 28% and 11% of total pet food sales, respectively.

Though unit sales remained strong in pet food, rising prices on their favorite pet foods convinced many pet parents to switch brands to private label.
Consumers Confused by Environmental Labels; Call for Universal Format

A pan-European survey among 10,000 consumers across 18 countries found that consumers are confused by all the different symbols and logos on product packaging. More than two-thirds of respondents would support a universal eco-label for food products.

The research by the EIT Food Consumer Observatory found that almost two-thirds of Europeans - 63% - believe food brands pretend their products are more sustainable than they really are, while only a third of Europeans, 33%, believe their government is transparent about regulating sustainability labels on food.

Among the 18 countries surveyed, Italy, Spain and Poland were those with the highest levels of support for a universal, independent label, with 81%, 79% and 78% of consumers respectively saying they would use it.

PLMA's Lunch & Learn Webinar with Daymon on 29 November

Daymon's recent survey spotlights the resilience and optimism in the global private label manufacturing sector. Learn about their growth strategies in the face of inflation and their strong commitment to sustainability, including reducing emissions. Join our webinar on 29 November 2023, 12:30 - 13:30 CET to uncover the future of this dynamic industry.

Complimentary registration for PLMA members, retailers and wholesalers - contact to register.

Results of PLMA Survey on Gen Z Revealed at US Chicago Trade Show

PLMA commissioned Surveylab to conduct a comprehensive survey of Gen Z in the US.  Questions homed in on Gen Zers' attitudes towards store brands, such as their awareness of the products, how often they buy them and how they compare them to national brands. Respondents were also asked to choose the best words to describe store brands and how the products reflect their own personal values and beliefs.

A detailed analysis of the survey's findings was presented at PLMA's US Private Label Trade Show in Chicago, by Dr. Sara Williamson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Marketing at SUNY Old Westbury. Her findings include a focus on the importance to Gen Z shoppers of store brand product "reliability."

"Nearly half of those in the survey said they are purchasing store brands frequently or always during regular shopping. When asked to indicate the primary reason they choose a store brand over a national brand, aside from price, the most common answers were quality expectations and previous brand experience," Williamson said.

"Combine this with the fact that Gen Z store brand purchase frequency is most strongly driven by a perception that store brands are 'reliable.' Reliability perception is a stronger store brand purchase predictor than any other measure, including household income and monthly grocery spending."

"The impact of store brand reliability is a solid indicator that the manufacturer-retailer relationship is more important than ever. To succeed with Gen Z, retailers must establish a foundation of store brand suppliers who meet their customers' quality expectations," she added.