Store brands outpace national brands in 2009

by Bryan Salvage
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NEW YORK ― In 2009, private-label products achieved strong gains across all major U.S. retail channels as consumers increasingly switched from national brands and drove store brands to all-time highs in volume, total revenue and market share, according to latest industry statistics published in Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (P.L.M.A.’s) 2010 Private Label Yearbook.

Sales of the products increased again last year by 1.8 billion units while national brand units were down 2.1 billion, on the heels of a powerful growth surge for store brands in 2008. Along with the conversion of a full percentage point in unit share from national brands to the private-label column, store brands added $2.7 billion in value to reach $86.4 billion in total sales. National brand sales increased by $1.6 billion, but those gains were largely, if not entirely, the result of higher prices, P.L.M.A. said.

Although overall sales for the nation’s retail chains reflected the sluggishness of the economy, in general, dollar growth in all three mainstream channels — supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchandisers — was up 0.8 and unit sales declined 0.2%. Store brands were far and away the industry’s star performers, P.L.M.A. pointed out.

In supermarkets, store brands reached an historic high of 23.7% in unit share. Private-label units were up 6.4% for the year compared to a decline of 1.7% for national brands. The growth in store brand units (+1.7 billion) more than offset the erosion of national brands (-1.5 billion), resulting in a net gain for the channel as a whole and stemming a multi-year trend of overall unit losses in U.S. supermarkets.

On the revenue side, store brands accounted for 90% of all gains in supermarkets, adding $1.5 billion in new sales (+2.9%), while national brands were virtually flat (+0.1%). In addition, the decline in national brand units suggests that even their modest sales gain of $200 million was a result of price inflation. Overall, store brands sales in supermarkets reached $55.5 billion and dollar market share climbed to 18.7%; both figures were new all-time highs.

For 2009 alone, private-label’s market share in units saw gains in all 11 supermarket departments that Nielsen tracks. In the largest supermarket department, dry grocery, which accounts for more than half of all food sales, private-label’s unit share advanced 1.3 percentage points to 20.7%. The biggest share gains were recorded in fresh produce (+2.0 points to 18.4%), packaged meat (+1.5 points to 16.4%), dairy (+1.4 points to 42.5%) and frozen (+1.2 points to 22.8%). Food departments overall advanced 1.4 points in unit market share to 23.9%.

Private-label’s dollar market share saw strong increases in frozen foods (+1.1 to 21.2%), dry grocery (+1.0 to 15.8%), deli (+0.9 to 27.6%), packaged meat (+0.9 to 14.5%) and fresh produce (+2.1 to 19.1%). The largest gains in dollar market share were recorded for fresh produce (+2.1 points to 19.1%) and frozen food (+1.1 points to 21.2%).

Data for the Yearbook was compiled by The Nielsen Company for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2009.
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