KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Private-label meat and poultry products, which have been building in sales and scope the past few decades, are packing a powerful punch these days in the marketplace. With a struggling economy and rising food costs, the appeal of private-label products has never been greater and the proof of this can clearly be seen in the numbers.

According to InfoScan Reviews, SymphonyIRI Group statistics (based on the Total US Multi-Outlet —Supermarkets, Drug stores, Mass market Retailers, Military Commissaries and Select Club & Dollar Retail chains for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 7, 2012), category and private-labels sales are up in many categories. A few of them include:

• Refrigerated Uncooked Meats (no poultry) $2,896,234,000, Private-Label Rfg. Uncooked meats (no poultry), $1,168,983,000, up 5.93 percent in sales vs. a year ago. Private-label ranked No. 1 in category sales.

• Breakfast Meats, $5,009,770,000; Rfg. Bacon, $3,602,788.000; Private-Label Rfg. Bacon, $773,133,300, up 3.05 percent from one year earlier. Private-label ranked No. 2 in sales.

• Refrigerated Breakfast Sausage/Ham, $1,406,982,000; Private-Label Rfg. Breakfast Sausage/Ham, $122,542,000, up 9.58 percent from a year ago. Private-label ranked No. 4 in category sales.

• Refrigerated Dinner Sausage, $2,909,379,000; Private-Label Refrigerated Dinner Sausage, $271,385,000—up 13.05 percent from a year ago. Private-label ranked No. 3 in category sales.

• Refrigerated Frankfurters, $2,541,150,000; Private-Label Refrigerated Frankfurters, $97,778,440—up 5.82 percent from a year ago. Private-label ranked No. 6 in category sales.

Today, nearly one of every four products purchased (food and on-food) is now a store brand, according to the New York-based Private-Label Manufacturers Association. Private-label’s continuing success is due not only to these products being less expensive than most major leading brands; it’s also the consistently improving product quality that keeps consumers coming back for more.

Many retailers have introduced premium private-label products that rival their branded counterparts in flavor and nutritional value, as well as packaging design and shelf placement, Chicago-based Mintel relays.

For those of you who will be in the Chicago area from Nov. 11 through 13, PLMA’s 2012 Private Label Trade Show is set to take place those days at the Rosemont Convention Center near O’Hare Airport. Exhibits plus sessions should satisfy the heartiest of appetites for learning more about private-label products and trends. For more information, visit www.plma.com.

Most meat and poultry packing and processing plants I visit for Meat&Poultry produce private-label products, but almost all of them are “very close to the vest” when asked to identify their private-label customers and products. Some of the better-known private-label meat brands today include Supervalu’s Stockman & Dakota private-label meat line, Kroger’s Private Selection line and A&P’s Woodson & James Choice Angus Beef line, just to mention a few.

Expect more private-label meat and poultry products to emerge as retailers scramble to provide more points of difference from their competitors as well as more value for their customers. Also expect the popularity of private-label to remain — even once the economy gets back on track.