Data / Categories / Private Label vs. National Brands / Deli
PLBuyer Index

PLBuyer Index: Spotlight on Deli

Deli private label merchandise has been on a long upswing, culminating in this month’s very strong performance.

October 2, 2013

One of the key categories delivering positive results in the PLBuyer Index this month is Deli. As measured by the PLBuyer Index, Deli consists of breakfast meats, dinner sausage, frankfurters, luncheon meats, refrigerated lunches, meat pies, refrigerated pasta, refrigerated pickles/relish, refrigerated pizza, refrigerated meat, and refrigerated seafood.

Since we began tracking the PLBuyer Index in February, Deli private label merchandise has been on a long upswing, culminating in this month’s very strong performance. The 52-week rolling index has climbed steadily from 100.4 in the period ending February 24, 2013 up to 142.9 in the current period ending August 12, 2013.

Deli’s private label success has come from growth in all areas that we measure—price, share of units, and share of revenue. Deli is one of the few categories where private label is actually at a premium over national brands. In the 52-week period ending in August, private label Deli brands averaged $4.31 per unit, while national brands averaged $3.30 per unit, a 30.9% positive price differential.

Unit sales seem unaffected by these price increases. Share of units for Deli private label increased from 14.3% in the 2012 period to 14.7% in the current period. The net result is that in the 52-week period ending in August 2013, private label Deli increased its revenue by 7.0% over the prior-year period, while national brands managed only a 1.6% increase.

However, the 4-week data shows even stronger results. Private label deli revenue surged 11.9% in the 2013 period, while total store revenue grew by 3.8% for the category. Private label unit sales also increased by 3.1% over the 4-week period in 2012, while national brand unit sales decreased by 0.2%. This is on top of the fact that private label prices were 34.7% higher than national brands, and $0.35 higher than private label average prices in the 2012 period.

During the second half of July and the beginning of August, it appears that private label Deli’s share of units increases, jumping from approximately 13% of total store unit sales in June/July to nearly 15% of total store unit sales in July/August.

However, price makes all the difference between this year and last year. While private label share of unit sales grew in 2012, the price differential held fairly steady from February into August, hovering between a 26% and 29% price premium over national brands.

This year, prices have been on a steady increase, with the exception of the period ending mid-May. These price increases appear to have had no negative impact on unit sales relative to the same periods last year. In fact, even with the growing price differential, private label share of unit sales has done better than last year, particularly in the periods ending in April, May, and June.

These patient price increases really paid off in the current period, allowing private label brands to be sitting in an excellent position for when that July to August bump in share of unit sales came along, allowing private label brands to achieve both strong unit sales growth in share and significant price increases at the same time.

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About IRI

IRI ( is a leader in delivering powerful market and shopper information, predictive analysis and the foresight that leads to action. We go beyond the data to ignite extraordinary growth for our clients in the CPG, retail and over-the-counter healthcare industries by pinpointing what matters and illuminating how it can impact their businesses across sales and marketing.

About Retail Systems Research

Retail Systems Research ( is the only research company run by retailers for the retail industry. RSR provides insight into business and technology challenges facing the retail industry ecosystem, and thought leadership and advice on navigating these challenges for specific companies and the industry at large. Collectively, RSR’s analysts have nearly 75 years of experience as retailers, spanning grocery, fashion, specialty and restaurant/hospitality. Our backgrounds encompass store operations and workforce management, supply chain, merchandising, marketing, and IT. We work with retailers and solution providers large and small. Our philosophy is simple: your success in the market is our success. 

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