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While many shoppers are looking for the old standards in the condiment aisles, there are some new items popping up, as well. Private label ketchup, a standard, was down 4.27 percent to $142 million with a 15 percent share, according to SymphonyIRI Group data for the latest 52 weeks ending October 6, 2013. Peanut butter didn’t see a change, holding at $386 million, while specialty nut butters, which have been popping up on shelves as of late, saw a 32 percent increase to $18 million and just a 5 percent share. Barbecue sauce dropped almost 5 percent to $43 million, while olive oil rose more than 4 percent to $302 million with a 6 percent share.
PLBuyer sent four of its secret shoppers to check out condiments—including any associated in-store marketing and merchandising tactics—at an Albertsons in Mesa, Ariz.; a Walmart Supercenter in Colorado Springs, Colo.; a Giant Eagle in North Royalton, Ohio; and an Ingles Markets store in Asheville, N.C.
In addition to looking for in-store promotions and advertising, shoppers recorded prices of comparable private label and national brand ketchup, olive oil, specialty nut butters and peanut butter, and barbecue sauce. They then conducted their own product tests in one of these categories. Here, we provide you with our gathered insight.
Side by Side
This month, all four of the secret shoppers reported seeing private label condiments shelved side-by-side with national brands, yet only Bill K. at Ingles Markets saw shelf tags pointing out price comparisons.
Bill, along with Sarah C. at Albertsons, reported seeing in-store private label ads, while Christina R., at a Walmart Supercenter, reported only seeing them for peanut butter. Walmart offers Great Value Crunchy Natural peanut butter for $2.18, hopping on the natural train to compete with national brand Jif Natural Crunchy peanut butter selling for $2.78. Getting away from the white labels, the packaging for the peanut butter has a new look with a more-natural color. A shelf tag advertises: “Great Value. New look, same great value.”
In the fast-growing specialty nut butters category, Amy K. found new Market District Hazelnut Spread at Giant Eagle, advertised with a “New” shelf tag. The same-size Market District spread saved shoppers $0.80 over Nutella hazelnut spread.
Amy also found Market District Dipping Oil—Italian Herb shelved next to Benissimo by Honger Farms Italiano oil. The private label oil has a similar label, almost blending in next to the national brand on shelf, but it retailed for $5.99, while the same-size bottle of Benissimo oil was $7.89.
The biggest savings in ketchup was found at Walmart where 64 oz. of Great Value ketchup saved $1.64 over Heinz. At Ingles Markets, a 2-lb. bottle of Laura Lynn ketchup was $1.68; the same-size Heinz ketchup was $3.08. At Albertsons, Essential Everyday ketchup was just a $1.00, and gives shoppers an additional 4 oz. over Heinz priced at $2.39.
With an array of brands available in barbecue sauce, retailers aren’t just competing against one big player like Heinz. Amy found Giant Eagle Original Barbeque priced at 2/$3, while Open Pit Original was $1.99. Laura Lynn Honey BBQ was just $0.88 at Ingles Markets, while the retailer also offers Bullseye brand at $1.98. Sweet Baby Ray’s at Albertsons was $1.79 more than Essential Everyday BBQ sauce. Walmart’s Great Value brand saved $0.85 over Kraft BBQ Sauce and gives shoppers an additional 8 oz.
“To complement an Italian pasta meal, the Market District Dipping Oil is a good choice,” said Amy. “We had the dipping oil with French bread, and it tasted good, with the lighter oil and the milder herbs that were infused. The herb taste is not overwhelming, and this oil can be used in cooking, as well. Overall, I would recommend this product to a friend for a way to enhance their meals.”
In order to get her to try a new store brand in the condiment category, Amy said she would need to have a comparison tasting, or it would have to come very highly recommended from a friend.
Sarah said she enjoys flavorful olive oils and sticks with name brands. Price is the only thing that would get her to buy a store brand.
Christina tried Walmart’s Great Value natural peanut butter and said it tasted great, “but I prefer the name brand peanut butter, which I feel has more taste,” she said. In order to convince her to try a store brand condiment, she said there would have to be a big price difference from the name brand and/or a coupon.
Bill found no noticeable difference in Laura Lynn ketchup from Ingles Markets and the national brand.