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5 things: Is private label unstoppable?

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery

Private label domination: This cool graphic from the Wall Street Journal illustrates just how much private label has started dominating traditional CPG brands — with particular growth across several categories just this year, alone. U.S. consumers are using a variety of tactics to cut food spending, including ditching name brands. It’s giving a boost to private label, which last year claimed 22 cents out of every dollar spent in grocery stores—the largest share ever for own-brand products. Sixty-five percent of shoppers say they choose private label over national brands due to price, according to an FMI survey. In many cases, now, the WSJ writes, the goal of retailers isn’t just to mimic national brands, but to beat them. —Chloe Riley

Prices stabilizing? It’s been a rough few years for grocery prices, but consumers got a bit of good news in April with the price of groceries dropping 0.2%. That’s a drop in the bucket when considering a 20% spike in food prices since 2020. ABC7 News in San Francisco reports that some grocers they spoke with are fed up with food companies gouging shoppers. “Companies coming out and saying that their sales went up 1% but their gross profit or net profits went up 5%. And so I think there is a certain amount of companies taking advantage of cost increases to pad their profit margins,” Gary Cohen, president and co-owner of Natural Value, a health food store out of West Sacramento, told the news station. Some are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to take action. Brian Wright, an economist at UC Berkeley, said prices are unlikely to return to 2020 levels, but he expects to see them stabilize in the coming months. —Tim Inklebarger

Fruit prices are the pits: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new immigration law about a year ago, and it’s been particularly hard on blueberries, bell peppers, and citrus fruit. The measure forced away a load of farmers, and taking care of crops has lately been more of a burden. And that cost has been shifted over to the consumer, who now pays higher prices for produce. Worse yet, the Florida Policy Institute estimates the move has cost Florida’s economy $12.6 billion over the last year. What has been called the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country has come down hard on undocumented labor as businesses face penalties for using illegal immigrants, many who work the farmland. About 42% of Florida’s farm laborers are undocumented. As a result, lemons, according to the USDA, are now 50% more expensive, while the price for blueberries, strawberries, and oranges also have gone up. Businesses can still hire immigrants as long as they have work permits. However, it looks like the damage has been done. —Bill Wilson

Gummy gambit: Can Walgreens capture lightning in a bottle? That’s what the pharmacy chain is hoping for with the release of its new peelable private-label Gummy Banana treats set for June 1. The Today Show website got the scoop on the peelable gummy treats, which follows the success of its peelable mango gummies that recently went viral on TikTok. We still haven’t gotten the chance to try the gummy creations because they’re always sold out at our local Walgreens, but the glowing reviews are making us want them even more. It’s a win for the beleaguered pharmacy chain which has paid out billions in settlements to states for its role in the opioid crisis. It’s also a big win for private-label brands, which are growing in popularity because of their low prices. The banana gummies will run $1.99, the retailer said. —TI 

It’s time to retire: Ninety-year-old Air Force veteran Dillon McCormick must have seen a lot of things while serving his country, but at least this past Memorial Day he was dodging cars and customers while collecting shopping carts in a Winn Dixie parking lot in Metairie, La. The sight hit former New Orleans news anchor Karen Swensen, and she decided to do something about it. Swensen approached McCormick and engaged in small talk, and found out the vet was working the pavement just so he could make ends meet. He needed $2,500 a month. Swensen was so moved she set up a GoFundMe, then got friend Hoda Kotb, co-host of the Today show, to help spread the word. As of Thursday, the account had generated more than $200,000 for a proper retirement for McCormick. He may be 90, but his mother lived to be 104. McCormick called the charity a miracle. After serving his country, now we get to serve him. —BW

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Grocers are getting fed up with food companies gouging prices, and some say the Federal Trade Commission needs to investigate. Do you see the FTC stepping in? Let us know in the comments below, or email the SN staff at [email protected].

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