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Southeastern revamps private brands with eye on value, innovation

Three new brand names; about 75% of products reformulated

Southeastern Grocers will execute a comprehensive transformation of its private brands over the course of the year, introducing new packaging, new brand names and more than 2,220 reformulations providing what the company said was improved quality, value and innovation.

Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based operator of Winn-Dixie, Bi-Lo, Harveys and Fresco Y Mas brands, said the initiative represented its largest-ever product development program and will help meet shopper demand for better pricing while stepping up quality and ingredient standards in ranges that can work across its four banners.

Some new items under the SE Grocers Essentials, SE Grocers and Prestige labels — the company’s new value, national brand equivalent and premium labels, respectively — have been quietly arriving in stores since late last year ahead of the launch, which the company formally announced late Wednesday. These introductions will continue throughout the year, and in some cases phase out existing private brands like Southern Home, or store brands.

Some existing Southeastern brands like Chek sodas, the Whiskers & Tails pet line and Lip-Lickin Chicken will continue. Chek will get new packaging, officials said.

In an email interview with SN, Southeastern CEO Ian McLeod said the revamped private label program intends to improve own brand as a percent of overall unit sales from around 20% currently to 25% over time. He noted that those figures vary by category.

“By having a three tier private label plan, we would aim to have private label products across all categories to suit everyone,” McLeod said. “What is really important to our customers is not only to have price they can trust, but quality they can trust as well. So a reformulation effort has been to develop an SE Grocers brand to ensure the quality is as good if not better than the national brand equivalent, but sold at prices that are between 20% and 30% cheaper.”

The SE Grocers Essentials line, encompassing 107 products, will land on shelves through February and provide “everyday value for all customers looking for reliable, budget household basics.” Prestige offers a selection of specialty items and indulgent products.

Photo: Southeastern Grocers

SE Grocers

McLeod said the company addressed quality by establishing a test kitchen and sensory lab in Jacksonville that has tested 2,330 products and made more than 2,260 quality improvements.

“Many of the products we have re-branded already met quality standards that we are now setting and therefore, fundamental change has not been required,” McLeod told SN. “Others have been reformulated either to improve quality, or clean up the artificial additives; as the presence of such ingredients is of increasing concern to our customers.”

Southeastern said such changes has resulted in a 3,000-item private brand line including more than 2,280 with no artificial colors; 2,160 with no artificial flavors; 2,650 with no MSG; 2,640 with no trans fat; and more than 2,240 products with no high fructose corn syrup.

Some of the new and improved products to land on the shelf this month include:

  • SE Grocers Popcorn — Cheddar, White Cheddar, Salt & Black Pepper, and Sea Salt
  • Prestige Popcorn — Caramel and Chicago Mix
  • SE Grocers Potato Chips — 21 varieties across numerous flavors that include traditional favorites like Regular and Sea Salt, along with unique flavors like Jamaican Jerk, Sriracha Wavy, Dill Pickle, Ranch, Chile Limon, Maui Onion and many more.

“We have a relatively unique opportunity in that we have four banners —Bi-Lo, Fresco y Mas, Harveys and Winn-Dixie — that require a consolidated branding architecture. However, that architecture is unified in its intent,” McLeod said.

TAGS: Marketing
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