Corporate brands came into their own in 2008 — spurred in large part by the weak economy and the resulting move by consumers to trade down.
Kroger Co., Cincinnati, reported that corporate-brand penetration represented almost 27% of all grocery sales and 34% of grocery units; meanwhile, Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway said corporate-brand sales outpaced national brands by a factor of 4-to-1 storewide and 6-to-1 in Center Store.
Safeway was so enthused about the performance of two of its proprietary brands — O Organics, an organics line, and Eating Right, a health and wellness line — that it began offering them to competing retailers and foodservice operators all over the country.
Other retailers were also actively developing new corporate brands to meet increasing demand, including the following:
Supervalu, Minneapolis, which launched Wild Harvest natural and organics as a companywide line in April, followed in September by the introduction of Culinary Circle, a premium line of grab-and-go meals, artisan breads, appetizers, side dishes, soups, salads and desserts. The company said it moved ahead more quickly on both lines than originally planned because of the consumer's inclination to trade down.
Unified Grocers, Los Angeles, which in May introduced a new natural and organic line called Natural Directions.
A&P, Montvale, N.J., which introduced Hartford Reserve as a premium line at value prices in October and the Via Roma line of foods this month.
Delhaize America, Salisbury, N.C., which rolled out a new line of chilled meals under the On the Go Bistro label.
IGA, the Chicago-based alliance of independent operators, which unveiled a package redesign of its private-label brand in November, as well as improved quality standards and wider availability on nearly 2,000 items.
-- Elliot Zwiebach