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Breakfast of Champions

Attendees have a good idea what will be served at the "Salute to Excellence" breakfast at PLMA's annual show each year.

That's because, along with fresh fruit and bagels, the table is filled with private-label breakfast products. I’m always eager look at the latest packaging and graphics.

This year, there was Food Club toasted oats, Hannaford Simple Living oat cereal, Hy-Vee crunch granola raisin bran and Kroger Honey Nut Bitz toasted rice and corn cereal. On the dairy side, attendees poured Dean’s milk in their coffee and over their cereal.

The breakfast session began with PLMA president Brian Sharoff addressing the crowd and handing the microphone over to Tom Chaffee, chairman of PLMA's board of directors and director of new business development for Sturm Foods.

Chaffee used the time to instill a sense of urgency in the private-label community. Despite private-label’s strong advancement, national brands are fighting back with deep discounts and increased promotional support, he said.

"National brand marketers have us fixed in their crosshairs," he said.

As a result, private label suppliers need to keep quality and innovation in the forefront. They also need to get involved in new media opportunities like Foursquare and Grocery iQ.

Don McGeorge, retired president and chief operating officer of the Kroger Co., was scheduled to be the keynote speaker. But due to plane problems, his flight was canceled and he couldn’t get to Chicago in time. In his place was Michael Sansolo, former FMI exec and contributing editor to