Private label is a stepchild no longer. Over the last decade it has become a significant part of the supermarket mix, industry players and analysts said. It has even become a tag on which operators hang their stores' identity, they added. "It enables us to differentiate ourselves and tell customers that, if they like Hy-Vee-label products, we're the only place to buy them," Ron Pearson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hy-Vee Food Stores, Des Moines, Iowa, said. "If you ...

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