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PLMA’s 2012 Private Label Trade Show took place at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., on Nov. 11-13. The annual PLMA show is the industry’s largest and most dynamic marketplace devoted entirely to store brands. The show offered more than 2,000 exhibit booths from leading manufacturers of both food and non-food product categories, including exhibitors from over 35 countries.
Buyers and executives from the leading U.S. supermarkets, drug chains, mass merchandisers, wholesale clubs, convenience and specialty retailers are among the more than 4,500 visitors who attend each year, in addition to wholesalers, brokers, importers, exporters, and suppliers of ingredients, services, research, consulting and press. PLBuyer got a view of all the newest products, packaging and marketing programs.
THE FOOD FLOOR
At recent shows, I mainly covered the nonfood section of the massive PLMA show floor. When I had the opportunity to write this year about anything and everything at the show, I was like a kid in a candy store.
I tried truffles at OverSeas Food Trading, LTD. of Fort Lee, N.J., and delectable Chocolate Caramel Crunch popcorn at The Hampton Popcorn Company from Mineola, N.Y. Foley’s Candies Ltd. of Vancouver, British Columbia, the largest chocolate manufacturer in Western Canada, had new lemon yogurt almonds and Greek yogurt almonds among its offerings.
I spent some time at the booth of Wythe Will Tzetzo of Williamsburg, Va., to learn about its “Specialty Food and Fine Confections.” The company had candy for grocery and C-stores on display and can do several types of packaging, including tubs, lay down, and peg bag. The company can help its customers develop a successful merchandising strategy, including display configurations, selective product assortments, and in-store promotional vehicles.
A few of the plethora of beverages on display that I was able to taste included new chocolate wine from Minhas Craft Brewery of Monroe, Wis. The wine is great for a desert on the rocks. The company also offers vodka, rum, whisky, and will be adding tequila soon.
Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA of Portsmouth, Va., provides 35 percent of North America’s private label roast and ground coffees. I was lucky enough to be able to taste their superior product at their booth. Many visitors to PLMA's Sky Hall also enjoyed coffee service provided by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA at the entrance, which I imagine helped to keep the crowd motivated during the busy show days.
Inter-American Products of Cincinnati, Ohio, was displaying its new vitamin water. The vitamin water has zero calories and comes in flavors such as acai fruit punch, pomegranate cherry, and Fugi apple pear. The company also had new apple juice on display.
Tetra Pak Inc.’s of Vernon Hills, Ill., showed me its carton bottle with Tetra Top, the contemporary package for chilled premium cultured products. The Tetra Top package adds the combination of a carton sleeve to a plastic lid to bring the best of both worlds. It is available in a range of shapes and sizes, from 4 oz (100 ml) – 32 oz (1000 ml). The tamper-proof lids are easy to open and close and the carton sleeve is 100 percent printable, letting customers get the most out of communicating their brand image.
Red Gold of Elwood, Ind., is now a full-line supplier in the enchilada sauce segment, offering red and green enchilada sauce in 10-ounce and 28-ounce cans. In pasta sauce the company took its 26-ounce can down to a 24-ounce size, and introduced a new zesty pasta sauce. Red Gold also offers a full line of no-salt-added tomato products, and it the only can and glass supplier of pizza sauce.
Healthy eating was a central theme this year at many booths at the PLMA Show. The gluten-free foods market is expected to hit $4.2 billion this year, according to Packaged Facts. The report also shows that more people are buying gluten-free products, up to 18 percent in August, compared with 15 percent in October 2010. To this end, B and D Foods of Vancouver, Wash., was offering a gluten-free crispy chicken. The company will be doing four new gluten-free items and four Asian items.
The booth of Atlantic Natural Foods of Nashville, N.C., was a testimony to consumers’ interest in eating healthy and sustainable foods. It was the company’s first year at PLMA, and the booth had heavy traffic stopping to see its meatless “meat” products, which are wheat- and soy-based. The company showed five products at PLMA under the Meatless Select brand, including Five Bean Chili, Meatless Taco Filling, Fishless Tuna, Chick-less Chicken Patty, and Meatless Hot Dogs.
I got to try the Vegetarian Fishless Tuna and could easily see why PLMA attendees were so interested. Both the flavor and texture was unparalled to anything else this vegetarian editor has tried. I spoke with Bruce Franklin, product development specialist, who was cooking up some healthy samples of the products.
Frankland’s vegan daughter was the inspiration for the tuna, while an Illinois flavor company helped make the tuna flavor.
Organic Milling of San Dimas, Calif., offered ready-to-eat cereal and granola with a better-for-you twist. The company makes all-natural products that are similar to top selling products. I tried its all-natural “Fruity O’s” and can’t wait to be able to buy them on the shelf for myself. They get color from natural items such as beets and still had a great taste.
Organic Milling can also provide products in ready-to-eat cups. “The instant cup category has exploded,” said Bill Stewart, VP of sales and marketing.
Quinoa is yet another trendy healthy product making a big splash in the U.S. market. The Fresh Market won PLBuyer’s Design Excellence Award this year in the organic category for its The Fresh Market Organic Rice And Quinoa product. Mountain High Organics of New Milford, Conn., was offering Organic Quinoa Pastas, which also are gluten-free. The new product was on display in PLMA’s Product Showcase.
In the nonfood section, U.S. Nonwovens of Hauppauge, N.Y., is getting into laundry and dish pods. Consumers can toss them into the wash for an easy way to do laundry.
The Sofidel Group, the second-largest European company in the tissue sector (for domestic and hygiene use) recently bought Cellynne Holdings Inc. and its marketing company, Stefco Industries, an integrated paper tissue manufacturer in North America. With the acquisition of Cellynne Corporation and Stefco Industries, Sofidel America of Haines, Fla., is taking the first step in building a similar business in North America based on The Sofidel Group’s priorities: Innovation, quality and sustainability, with plants close to its customers.
In addition to supplier booths, PLMA offered a new Pet Care Pavilion to call attention to the rising importance of pet care categories in private label programs. PLMA’s popular Idea Supermarket returned once again this year, spotlighting product concepts, packaging and program innovations from retailers across the country and around the world.