NAPLES, Fla. -- Kroger's recent acquisition of Fred Meyer and subsequent growth in size is the biggest event in private branding in the last decade, according to Mark Husson, senior food retailing analyst at Merrill Lynch, New York. Husson, who spoke at the Private Label Manufacturers Association's annual meeting and leadership conference, held here late last month, said that as a result of consolidation, the Kroger brand will soon be bigger than Heinz. "Kroger's private brand program is ...

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