THIS WEEK IN SUPERMARKET HISTORY

Today, private-label brands represent a nearly $50 billion segment of the retailing industry, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association. That figure is up from $39 billion in 1996, and it is a business that continues to grow. Retailers now use private-label lines to cement customer loyalty, offering full lines of high-quality products, including ethnic and specialty products as well

Today, private-label brands represent a nearly $50 billion segment of the retailing industry, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association. That figure is up from $39 billion in 1996, and it is a business that continues to grow. Retailers now use private-label lines to cement customer loyalty, offering full lines of high-quality products, including ethnic and specialty products as well as staples.

n on the part of retailers and a proactive approach to store-brand merchandising. Among the recommendations: improving product quality, redesigning packaging, strengthening promotions and expanding the scope of private-label lines. The successful implementation of such initiatives has done much to advance private label's growth since those early years when store brands were too often viewed as the low-end alternative.