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Stern: 'How will you respond to hyper-local trend?'

Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillanDoolittle, urged PLMA Show attendees Tuesday to consider how they’ll respond to the local trend while offering as example Whole Foods’ partnerships with local product and service providers at its locations in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Whole Foods is trying to take local as one of its main platforms and it’s asked, ‘How do I localize local even more and drive it down further into the neighborhood?’” he said. “They’re doing a lot of wonderful things in their stores.”

Whole Foods has partnered with Gotham Greens to sell rooftop-grown leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes and with New York Cutlery to sharpen knives in-store.  

Stern also highlighted that the Austin, Texas-based chain is leveraging its 365 private label brand to create a value impression with its new 365 by Whole Foods format.

“It took the store brand and made it the face of the brand,” he said. “So you moved from private label products to become the name of the store and a signal that this would be a different experience, it’s offering lower prices and figuring out how to take the cap ex out of the store and simplify it.”

Stern also said natural and organic is the No. 1 area where retailers want to expand private label; that the rise of fast casual foodservice is a “game changer” to which private brand players must respond; and Dollar General’s expansion of fresh and frozen sections presents an opportunity for private brand suppliers.

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