different retailers. Currently the categories
that are changing are those that reflect lifestyle tastes and activities. Examples include
the dairy section, single-serve offerings and
the variety of fresh products situated at the
grocery store’s perimeter.
“The dairy section for generations was milk,
cheese and butter. Now it has been changing remarkably with yogurts, flavored milks,
alternative milks and all kinds of other dairy-like products,” says Dane Twining, president
of the New York City-based Private Label
Manufacturer’s Association (PLMA).
He adds that fresh, ready-to-eat and single
serve options are all becoming more sophisticated along with consumer tastes.
Amy Lotker, owner and head of sales and
marketing for Better For You Foods, based in
Delray Beach, Fla., says that in frozen foods,
deli programs and grocery food service, natural, organic, free-from, health oriented and
upscale foods are trending.
Even aisles that in the past focused on convenience over quality, like frozen foods, are
improving offerings, Lotker says. Now frozen
food providers are offering natural, organic and
gourmet lines to their private label partners.
“Better4U private label bread bowls are a
prime example of an upscale frozen product
that allows a busy consumer to conveniently
prepare a hearty chicken chili in a cornbread
and jalapeño bread bowl in minutes,” Lotker
Better4U also recently introduced private
label vegan and gluten-free certified thin pizza
crusts. Made with non-GMO ingredients, this
product is marketed towards consumers who
want to make their own pizzas at home with a
high-quality, healthy crust.
In some cases, like with Better4U, upscaling refers to the specialization of products.
Another area that this is taking place is in the
olive and olive oil categories where organic,
natural and specialty blends are the growing
“Now retailers are realizing they can make
better use of their shelf space by introduc-
ing special stuffings such as jalapeño, garlic
and blue cheese, all of which are doing very
well in the stores,” says Enrique Escudero,
CEO of Acorsa USA, based in Fort Lee, N.J.
“Other popular new offerings include sea-
soned, organic and new variety olives where,
although the movement is slower, the margins
For those retailers who are still offering the
basic three or four olive and olive oil SKUs in
their private label lines, Escudero thinks that
branching out is a risk worth taking. “Retailers
should dare to introduce specialty items,” he
says. “The direct connection between farmers
and producers with retailers is developing new
In an effort to satisfy this need, Acorsa USA
introduced a product called Your Olive Bar in
a Jar. These are similar to the types of fancier
olives found in salad bars, but packaged in jars
with a three-year shelf life. These premium
products are available to retailers for private
labeling as well.
Furlani’s, a manufacturer of private label
breadsticks, Texas toast and other similar
bread products, is another vendor that recog-
nizes a store’s need to diversify in order to have
a successful store brand offering. The compa-
ny’s in-house research and development team
works directly with retailers to explore new
product ideas and innovations in the bread
baking space, in addition to its library of prod-
ucts that are available for both customization
Furlani’s products are manufactured in a
state-of-the-art, vertically integrated 250,000
square foot facility, says a representative from
the Mississauga, Ont., Canada-based company’s marketing department. “This allows us to
run all products in one space for optimal efficiency, consistency and logistical synergies.
This manufacturing focus enables us to be the
industry’s least-cost producer with exceptional
quality products,” the marketing representative adds.
Furlani’s also emphasizes the importance of
packaging, and its sales and marketing team
provides insight on new packaging design
ideas to interested retailers.
Observers agree that packaging plays an
important role in the upscaling of private label
lines. “Nowadays, some private label products
have nicer or more upscale designs than the
branded product,” says Escudero. “The quality
is very important too. Consumers;are willing
to pay a little bit extra if the product satisfies
Shelf-appeal is an important aspect of any
premium product, observers add. This is
no different for retailer’s own brands. “The
upscaling of private label in many cases is a
one-two punch,” Twining says. “One is to be
more creative and concerned with quality