Ask retailers why private label made gains in top grocery categories such as cereal, soda and diapers last year, and they'll probably offer a simple answer, like this one: "It all boils down to price and quality . . . that's it in a nutshell," said Ned Meara, corporate grocery merchandising manager at Grand Union Co., Wayne, N.J. Meara's explanation of private label's successes in 1993, at his company and others, reflected a more general recognition among supermarket operators that the ...

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