A new path for private label

No longer the “national brand equivalent,” private label companies are forging innovation.

Any questions about the health of private label brands were erased with a single glance on the expo floor of the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s 2013 trade show.

Everything from gourmet frozen meals to fresh cheeses to a wide range of HBC segments were represented. LOR_Apple-Crisp

One sure-tell sign that there is still more room to grow for private label and store brands was the number of innovations spotlighted in manufacturers’ booths. Here is a look at some of the newest ideas straight from the trade show floor.

Fruit of the cobbler
The Apple Crisp Mix from Bektrom Foods is getting a positive response, said company officials, adding that they average about 50 emails a week asking where it is because it is so often sold out. The Apple Crisp Mix “Grandma’s Recipe” and Fruit Cobbler Mix were two of the Monroe, Mich.-based company’s most popular innovations at the PLMA show.
Also featured was Bektrom’s redesigned line of noodle (three varieties) and rice sides (four varieties). “They are designed to be an easy option for moms cooking dinner for their kids; it is a quickly growing industry,” said Thomas Barbella, president. www.bektrom.com

Pumped with protein
Berner Food & Beverage is targeting fitness enthusiasts. Rolling out early this year, the Ultimate Protein Drink is an all-natural protein drink with 25 grams of protein and less than 100 calories per serving.

“Protein drinks have grown to be a $1 billion industry, but there are a lot of products out there that do not deliver any functional health benefit,” said Steve Fay, executive vice president. “This has all the bells and whistles.” It is available in mocha and vanilla and can be customized for private label. www.bernerfoods.com

Please take one
Officials at Cascades Tissue Group know how many napkins can pile up in a person’s car or be blown away at a picnic—so they came up with a solution. The ServOne Napkins are dispensed one at a time, in an easy to carry package.

They come in white or mocha and are made from recycled paper. Icons representing usage ideas are featured on the packaging. “They are ideal for in the car, picnics, camping, boating or anytime you are on the go,” said Brian Carlson, U.S. marketing director for retail products for the Eau Claire, Wis.-based company. www.cascades.com

All at the table
To offer a “full-line supply” of disposable tableware is Huhtamaki’s goal. Printed pressboard is the latest addition to the De Soto, Kan.-based company’s line offerings, which includes premium printed plates, bowls, cups and value-fluted plates in a range of sizes and features.

“Pressboard is the largest segment in disposable tableware,” said Sara Engber, director of pressboard and retail brands. “We needed to be in it in order to offer a full line of tableware. We want to be a one-stop shop for our customers.” One of the biggest selling points, said officials, is that all the tableware, except for cutlery currently, are made in the U.S. www2.us.huhtamaki.com

Far from flat
“Flat” is rarely a positive term in retail, but for Palermo’s it is the key to boosting sales. According to company officials, recent data shows people are leaving the frozen pizza category. To entice consumers, the Milwaukee-based company added a line of Flatbreads.

“We offer the Flatbreads in some new and unique flavors, such as Spinach and Goat Cheese,” said Don Ostergen, vice president of sales and marketing. “From this standpoint we can go into everything from bar food to appetizers to meals.” Currently there are six varieties and customization options available for private label offerings. www.palermospizza.com

Up a notch
Premier Brands is taking its products to the next level. Two of the advanced products featured by the Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based company were Calamine Plus Spray and Maximum Strength Anti-Fungal Nail Solution Pen.

Formulated to treat mild skin conditions, such as rashes, poison ivy and chickenpox, the Calamine Plus Spray features a “no touch” delivery system that allows the formula to be applied directly to targeted areas.

The Anti-Fungal Nail Solution Pen is compact and portable, with a convenient pen-brush applicator that helps the user get into hard to reach places. It is a non-oily, clear formula that dries quickly and is odorless. www.premier-brands.com

The bee’s knees
Sue Bee Honey is instilling confidence in customers with its “Support the U.S.A. Honeybee” label that informs shoppers that they are buying 100%, all-natural American honey and supporting American beekeepers.

“We are very close with our suppliers,” said David Allibone, president and CEO of the Sioux Honey Association, based in Sioux City, Iowa, which produces Sue Bee Honey. “We know where and how they produce their honey so we are confident with the level of honey coming from our membership.” The red, white and blue seal has been on store shelves since October. www.suebee.com

Take a sip
Caza is the word for “hunt,” said officials for Sturm Foods about the name of the company’s Caza Trail line of Fair Trade Organic Single-Cup Select Coffees. The line is certified Fair Trade USA Organic.

“According to Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade Certified coffee imports hit an all-time high in 2012 with volume 18% greater than 2011,” said Theresa Martell, marketing manager for Sturm Foods, a Manawa, Wis.-based subsidiary of Bay Valley Foods. “It continues to grow as the Fair Trade mission of helping farmers in developing countries build sustainable businesses.” www.sturmfoods.com

Green is the new plastic
Tetra Pak has topped its sustainability efforts with the Green Cap, a bio-based plastic cap made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) derived from sugar cane, a renewable resource.

The green cap brings the Vernon Hills, Ill.-based company one step closer to a package that is made entirely from renewable materials. To differentiate it from traditional caps, the cap features the logo of a leaf etched on top.

“A lot of people are interested in going green and offering a completely recyclable package,” said Eva Maria Willridge, communications specialist, U.S. and Canada. “Forty-five out of 50 states have access to recycling; this helps a lot of companies.” www.tetrapak.com

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