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Store Brands Could Grow as Shoppers Seek Fresh

Shoppers want more fresh food options and less work in the kitchen – and that could mean a boost for private label sales, according to a nationwide study of buying behavior and consumer preferences in deli, dairy and fresh bakery departments.

The study was commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) and conducted by Surveylab, a specialist in online market research, and covered attitudes of 800 primary grocery shoppers in the U.S. PLMA said the effort is part of the trade group’s plan to spotlight store brands in deli, dairy and bakery at this year’s Private Label Trade Show, to be held Nov. 15-17 in Chicago.

More than half of respondents in the study said they buy more private label now than they did five years ago, and 44 percent said they currently buy store brands either always or frequently. Frequency of buying is even higher in deli, dairy and bakery, where it reached 47 percent.

“Consumers are making it clear they want convenience and speed in meal preparation,” said PLMA President Brian Sharoff, “and this is creating highly profitable opportunities for retailers’ store brands to respond with their own brands.”

In the study, shoppers of deli, dairy and bakery were asked, “Which products would you like to see more of?” The results were as follows:

  • In deli, convenience was the number one demand, with four in 10 respondents opting for “more items that can save me time at home.” Following closely were “more restaurant quality items” and “heart healthy items, such as low sodium.”
  • In the dairy department, a better assortment topped shoppers’ desires, with 35 percent of survey respondents wanting to see more variety in general, and 38 percent saying they would like greater variety of cheeses in particular.
  • When it came to the bakery, shoppers had an eye on freshness and health issues foremost, with 31 percent saying they would like more items baked on-site and 31 percent opting for products containing “less fructose, sugar, corn syrup and bad fats.” With one in four shoppers, more nutritional and freshness information, greater variety of portions, and more emphasis on healthy ingredients were also in demand.

Among the improvements shoppers would most like to see at the supermarket perimeter, product sampling and demonstrations ranked high across all three departments. In the deli, faster service and more nutritional information about deli products were mentioned.

“Deli, dairy and bakery are among the fastest growing sections at the annual Private Label Trade Show,” added PLMA’s Sharoff. “We are seeing more companies in these categories who are interested in exhibiting than ever before. One thing we have learned from past shows, is that when companies want to exhibit, it usually means growth in the categories at retail.”

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