PRIVATE LABEL, especially organic options, got a big push in 2007 as major retailers like Safeway and Meijer introduced new lines and expanded existing ones.
Safeway launched a 40-item extension of its O Organics store-brand line in the form of O Organics for Baby and O Organics for Toddler. O Organics for Kids was another new addition.
Safeway also launched a proprietary brand called Eating Right. The line's “spot your needs” packaging system lets shoppers identify healthy attributes that match up with their specific nutritional needs.
Earlier this month, Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Safeway, announced that the chain plans to offer both lines to other outlets.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer introduced its store-brand line: Meijer Organics. All products have “USDA Organic” certification; selections include juices, peanut butter, ice cream, frozen pizza and pasta.
SN's 2007 Survey of Center Store Performance confirmed that better-for-you is a strong private-label theme. When asked how they plan to strengthen their private-label offerings in the next 12 months, 73% of retailers said natural/organic.
Along with organics, other types of private labels received strong retail support this year. Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. deepened its commitment to Disney Magic Selections with new baby, toddler and personal care items. They joined the 100 products that launched in 2006, and include character-shaped frozen and canned pasta, granola bars, and peanut butter and jelly.
Winn-Dixie, Jacksonville, Fla., continued its focus on kosher foods by introducing kosher milk, orange juices, teas, fruit drinks and ice cream. The products join nearly 1,000 other Winn-Dixie-brand items that bear the kosher label. All products that Winn-Dixie manufactures in its plants are now certified by the Orthodox Union, and Winn-Dixie encourages outside manufacturers to obtain kosher certification.
Ethnic private label is a growth area, as 27% of retailers said they plan to enhance their private label lines with ethnic products, according to the 2007 Survey of Center Store Performance.
Introduced about one year ago, Carnaval is a top-tier Hispanic store brand geared mostly to Mexicans. It is sold primarily in Minyard Food Stores' Carnival-banner Hispanic-format stores, although several Carnaval staples — including cheese and tortillas — are also carried in the retailer's Minyard and Sack 'N Save banners.
Carnaval currently spans 100 stockkeeping units. An additional 100 to 200 SKUs are planned. About 75% of the mix is dry grocery, and 25% refrigerated. Along with tortillas and cheese, items include spices, jalapeño peppers and dry red peppers.
Minyard told SN early in the year that it wanted to distribute its new Carnaval-brand Hispanic label to noncompeting companies outside Dallas. The chain put the idea on hold, however, pending its transition to Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers.
The future of Wild Oats' private-label line, which is distributed through retailers like Schenectady, N.Y.-based Price Chopper and online channels like Amazon.com, is also uncertain given the retailer's acquisition by Whole Foods earlier in the year.
Another private-label trend to gain momentum in 2007 was multi-tier programs. Delhaize Group, for instance, introduced a three-tier private-label offering across all its U.S. banners.
The line includes premium items under the Taste of Inspiration brand and value-priced products under the Smart Options label.
Having multiple private-label tiers not only expands overall private-label sales, it also strengthens a retailer's connection with its most valued customers, according to a study released at the 2007 Food Marketing Institute Show.