NEW YORK -- Store brands continued their decade-long upward march in unit market share last year, adding a tenth of a point to reach 19.9% penetration in the supermarket trade, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association here.
Private brands expanded their market share in all three major channels last year, according to the PLMA's 1999 Private Label Yearbook.
The PLMA's statistics are provided by Information Resources Inc., Chicago. The 1998 statistics reflect expanded, census-enhanced data collection from IRI. As a result, some market shares differ from those previously reported by IRI, the yearbook noted.
Store brands are now a $43.3 billion industry, said the PLMA. This represents an increase of $2 billion, up 5% from the year before.
Private label accounted for a greater share of growth in dollars and units than its share of sales, according to the PLMA. Indeed, store brands accounted for 51% of all unit growth in 1998 across the three channels combined (brands accounted for 49% of unit growth).
Store brands accounted for $35.45 billion of supermarket sales in 1998, up 3.2%. (Total supermarket sales were about $400 billion.) Of the $5 billion increase that supermarkets experienced during the year, store brands contributed $1.1 billion, the PLMA said.
Brian Sharoff, president of the PLMA, said that it looks like consolidation among food retailers has had a positive effect on store brands. "The larger the retailer, the greater its ability to introduce private label in more categories and to reach threshold volume in categories that might have seemed too small," Sharoff told SN.
Across the eight broad supermarket departments that IRI tracks, store brands grew in dollar share in five: non-edible grocery, frozen, bakery, HBC and general merchandise. Store brands were even in edible grocery, but fell in dairy and deli. In unit share, private label advanced in edible grocery, non-edible grocery, deli, HBC and general merchandise. Store brands lost share in three categories: frozen, bakery and dairy, the report said.
"Looking at individual product categories, private label recorded its best dollar volume gains [in supermarkets] in an eclectic group consisting of candles, refrigerated lunches, baby formula, caramel/taffy apples, refrigerated seafood, frozen poultry, meat pies, tobacco products, disposable cameras and butter. The gains ranged from 88% in candles to 35% in butter," the report said.
Top unit gainers included several of these categories, plus hair conditioners, cheesecakes, adult incontinence products and snack/granola bars.
The PLMA Yearbook covers more than 650 product categories in the three major channels -- supermarkets, chain drug stores and mass merchants.