Private Label Buyer Blog

PLMA 2013—A Private Label Powerhouse

November 19, 2013

We’re stepping into the home stretch for the 2013 PLMA show, and it’s been a wild ride. The show floor opened yesterday, and I logged a good few miles traipsing up and down the aisles, perusing new products and developments, chatting up exhibitors and attendees, all the while painting a collective mental picture of the store brand industry.

As we all know, the future presents a bright outlook. But those who will prove most successful will have performed some carefully cultivated groundwork, calculating each step, growing their private label business sustainably and organically, always with an eye on how they fit into specific channels and categories while keeping tabs on developments by the national brands. That’s the pathway to success, and I’ve chatted with countless retailers, suppliers and other members of the private label industry over the last few days who are squarely on that road.

I’ve also been gathering copious amounts of information on new products and refining my takes on ongoing and developing trends, soaking up as much as I can from the collective powerhouse of private label.

One item that I’ve been expecting for a while now that has surfaced at the show is private label liquid concentrated water enhancers, which I saw at Heartland Food Products Group and Jel Sert, which had lines manufactured for GNC and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on display. I think these products have much potential to compete with the likes of Kraft’s MiO and the other national brands in this game. Liquid concentrates, as well as powdered mixes for energy and sports beverages, have been showing good numbers and should track well in the coming months.

Another item of note is sandwiches—convenience items, more often frozen than not, completely enrobed with a dough of some sort. City Line Foods/Auntie Anne’s does a pretzel exterior, multiple pizza manufacturers do calzone-style sandwiches with dough. Ethnic takes make use of flatbread-style crusts, pita-style pockets, and much more. But the key here is a complete seal around the sandwich to reduce mess, making these great grab-and-go options.

On the value end of private label, we’re seeing more packaging developments that can serve as differentiating points of interest, and the upper tier of the game is growing more diversified all the time—with some products on the show floor just flat-out better than anything on the market today, period, whether national brand or otherwise.

Watch for more PLMA show coverage in the coming days and weeks. Much ground to cover.

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