Catching Up with Chris

Aren't We All Looking for the Right Partner?

December 7, 2012

It’s all about partners.

Whether we’re going overseas, across the country or down the road, private label today is as much about whom you work with as anything else.

We’ve found that out at the Private Label Manufacturers Association Trade Show last month, where thousands of attendees began reinforcing and creating new partnerships with exhibitors and suppliers.

We found it out in Peru, where companies such as Supervalu, H-E-B, and Walmart’s international groups looked for new and creative partnerships to bring South American cuisine into their stores.

And we found it in San Antonio, Texas, during our ECRM Roundtable event, where collaborations and partnerships were talked about as necessary and beneficial.

There are some retailers taking the steps to bring more and more of their private label production in house. No getting around it, part of the wave of the future will be a streamlining of some operations to provide larger retailers more control over all aspects of their supply chain.

But by and large, the industry needs to succeed when everyone makes gains. And that means suppliers and retailers sitting down together to work on new products and new procedures to enhance their offerings for customers.

Some of them will find partnerships in traditional ways and places. The PLMA show was the perfect setting for some of the top members of the industry to come together, renew old acquaintances, and find some new ones, too. With about 4,500 attendees, the event is the largest gathering place for the private label industry in the U.S.

But there are other places outside the U.S. to find partners. One of those was in Peru this fall, the subject of our cover story this month. The Expoalimentaria 2012 was billed as the largest South American food and beverage show of its kind. It lived up to that, and more. Some 30,000 attendees visited over three days, including buyers such as Keith Winters of Supervalu, who was gracious enough to talk with PLBuyer about the experience (and whose company was gracious enough to grant the interview).

Buyers were there to search for products, but the sellers were as interested to talk about private label partnerships as anything else. Companies such as Inka Crops, who have been in the private label business for a decade, talked about the benefits of the deals while looking for more connections to be made.

And then there was our Roundtable discussion, featured in the Private Eye this month. A group of five industry attendees talked about the need to find new products to put on shelves, to target customers with the right mix of products, to improve upon packaging, whether that is adding value features or sharpening up the graphics involved.

To do all of those things, retailers are going to have to work closer than ever with suppliers in the chain to make it happen.

It’s time to step on the private label dance floor. You don’t want to be out there alone. So find the right partner and let’s cut a rug.

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