Chicago -- The Private Label Manufacturers Association, New York, will host this year's Private Label Trade Show, titled "New Century of Store Brands," from Nov. 12-14 at the Rosemont Convention Center here.
Parallel to the growth of the industry as a whole, the show has also blossomed and this year will mark the introduction of a perishables section, designed to highlight the growing number of private label lines for fruits, meats, poultry, bakery, deli products and seafood, among others.
Also new to the show this year will be additional International Pavilions sponsored by Mexico, Israel, Food From Britain and Costa Rica. Returning attractions that will take on new dimensions include a technology section, which will feature e-commerce and information systems solutions, and a new product expo area, which will showcase a number of new store brand innovations in the product and design arenas.
Alan Levin, president and CEO of Happy Harry's, Inc. , Newark, Del., and chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, will serve as opening breakfast speaker, talking about private label's impact on the drug chain. Marc van Gelder, president and CEO of Peapod, Inc., Skokie, Ill., will preside over the PLMA's annual Retail Trends Breakfast, discussing Internet retailing.
This year's seminar and workshop schedule will include the general session "B2B: An Inside Look," in addition to the concurrent seminars "Perishables: How Suppliers & Retailers Can Work Together to Build a Program," "Private Label Retail Trends from Europe," and "Best Practices in Drug Chain Store Brand Promotion."
More than 2,000 exhibitors covering three exhibit halls are expected to showcase over 20,000 private label products in almost every food and beverage category, household and kitchen products, health and beauty, OTC drugs and general merchandise.
The technological evolution and growing presence of the Internet in everyday business processes and transactions has not been lost on the supermarket realm. Some industry experts told SN they believe it will eventually become a necessity for the development of new products due to the added exposure it gives to industry players.
Likening e-commerce portals to "self-service buffets rather than prepared meals," Carl Nova, CEO of upstart PLmarket.com, one such entity headquartered in Shelton, Conn., told SN he believes the future of private label is hinged on open communication flowing through all channels.
"Private label is a very unique process. It either starts or ends with the consumer. On the other end are raw material suppliers, and in the middle are marketers and merchandisers. For it to really be successful it needs visibility throughout that whole process," Nova said.
"The challenge for the retailer is 'How do I expand and add more private label products?' It may not be easy if you're a traditional grocer and these products are generally sold through drug chains. The Internet helps create visibility throughout the process and allows all players to see examples of excellence," he added.
While the Internet may be the supreme conduit for future global communications, the private label industry has been holding its own in the overseas market for several years due to past consolidation factors.
"It's fairly obvious that the American supermarket industry now reflects global ownership. Now, the American and European supermarket industry are one in the same," said Brian Sharoff, president of the Private Label Manufacturers Association, New York.
"Ahold owns stores in America; Wal-Mart is setting standards in England and in Germany. We've gone from two retailer continents who observe each other to being one with similar experiences and similar results.
"France and the U.S. are at the same level now -- we're no longer the caboose, we're right in the middle of the train with France where generics were born."
However, according to Dan Mazur, senior vice president of corporate brands, Topco, Skokie, Ill., "The corporate brand is still underdeveloped based on what's going on in other areas of the world. We can't be satisfied with a 15% market share."
Nova agrees that "consistency across the industry is not there" and believes the Internet can be used to solve that problem.
Also, because the shopper of tomorrow is the Internet user of today, Nova said promotion via the Web is a key factor in the growth of the supermarket industry, private label brands included.