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Private Honors

Grocery Headquarters recognizes those companies leading the growing private label segment with a 2016 Private Label Trailblazer Award.


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It pays to be different. This is a lesson that manufacturers have learned over the years, and retailers—in regard to their own brands—are finally picking up on. 

There has been a seismic shift in the way consumers think about private label grocery brands. “Consumers are moving away from big brands and embracing smaller, local brands and those that more closely align with their new badge values,” says Shilpa Rosenberry, senior director, global consumer strategy for Daymon Worldwide, based in Stamford, Conn. “The good news for retailers is that more private brand programs today are able to deliver on these values.”

With younger generations, like Millennials and Gen-X, showing a lower percentage of brand loyalty—20-30 percent, according to data from WSL Strategic Retail—there is more room for private brands to capture market share. 

“Private brand share continues to grow as retailers realize that outlets with the highest share of private brands across the store, from traditional supermarkets and warehouse clubs to specialty retailers and discounters, are more successful and profitable overall,” Rosenberry adds. 

Some trends that Daymon anticipates seeing in private brands for 2016 include growth of healthier options among private label, in both perimeter and center store categories; and private brands going above and beyond to deliver on consumer values, including flavor and fragrance, proactive health benefits, restaurant innovation and production techniques.

Many of our winners are ahead of the curve, and already incorporating these ideas into their offerings. Check out what makes this year’s Private Label Trailblazer Award winners stand out from the pack: 

  Arylessence 

For flavor and fragrance creator Arylessence, the focus is on helping brands connect with consumers. 

“For all retailers and marketers, we develop winning fragrances and distinctive flavors that attract the interest of consumers, encourage repeat purchase and create product loyalty in a highly competitive environment,” says Lori Miller Burns, director of marketing relations and communications for the Marietta, Ga.-based company.

Arylessence works in close partnership with individual retailers to assist with the product development process to keep brands competitive. The company helps retailers position their brands to outperform national brands, through what Arylessence officials say is the key—fragrance and flavor. 

“It is the scents and tastes that capture the emotional power of the product, proactively enhance the product’s performance and exceed the consumer’s expectations. This is what our perfumers and flavorists help retailers achieve,” adds Miller Burns. 

  Bay Valley Foods

Continued innovation based on consumer macro trends and unmet needs is what keeps Bay Valley Foods one step ahead of the competition. Officials for the http://cleanones.com/.-based company have adapted to the rising demand for fresh with new products to fit the produce, dairy and deli aisles.

In the dairy section, the new products include nut-based milks and smoothies, both of which are USDA organic certified and produced in BPA-free bottles. Also new is HPP guacamole, hummus and salsa. “The non-thermal pressurized processing of these dips improves taste and food safety while delivering longer shelf life and clean label products that contain no artificial flavors, colors or ingredients,” says Dara Schuster, director of innovation.

Aside from product development, officials from Bay Valley say the company offers other valuable assistance to its retail partners, ranging from merchandising and promotional support to consumer trend analysis. 

“We are proud of our growth, and winning a Trailblazer Award is a challenge for us to keep pushing to further exceed our customers’ needs,” adds Schuster. 

  Bektrom Foods

Bektrom Foods has been in the dry grocery category producing private label products for more than five years, and is continually adding new items to its portfolio.

The Monroe, Mich.-based company provides its partners support in any way that it can. “Bektrom has a team in place to help with all our customers’ private label needs,” says Tom Barbella, president. “We also offer a test kitchen for them to work on their new items. We care about our retailers and work with them to bring products to market that will be on their shelves for years to come.” 

Bektrom’s latest innovation, Exotic Sea Salt Grinders, was designed to help home cooks spice up their meals and family dinners. The grinders are all sea salt-based, which are not iodized and safer for consumers with salt restrictions. 

The retail price, $1-$1.49, gives all consumers the opportunity to try the items. It also offers retailers additional profit on some unique new items that are not currently on their shelves, Barbella adds.

  Big Time Products

Though Big Time Products was founded in 2004 and has been an important presence in hand protection categories for 12 years, what really sets the company apart today is the double-digit growth it has experienced for the last six years.

Big Time Products offers hand protection products in the hardware, household cleaning, garden and automotive categories. When it comes to success on the private label side, officials for the Rome, Ga.-based company make sure it is known for the level of service and support it offers to retailers. 

“We have a 100 percent customer satisfaction rate with our customers, in that we don’t stop until our customer is satisfied, no exceptions,” says Tim Stapleton, president of U.S. sales. “We exceed what is expected of a retail supplier.”

Officials also say that the company supports its partners through social media efforts, including posts, pins and tweets to continue the relationship with the consumer and retailer beyond the store. 

  Catania-Spagna

Catania-Spagna, a family owned business through four generations and for more than 100 years, has achieved its longevity and success through innovation and the quality of its products. 

The Ayer, Mass.-based company offers a full line of oils, including olive, vegetable, blends and specialty oils, in package sizes ranging from portion control packets to 48,000-pound tank wagons. 

“Catania-Spagna has always been innovative with new ideas to help change customer comprehension and understand the oil market,” says Mark Coleman, vice president of retail sales. “Staying ahead of trends and keeping our customers informed helps ensure our continued success year after year.” 

For 2016, the company has implemented a packaging change to make its oil products look like the national brand equivalent, available in 250-, 500- and 750-milliliter as well as 1-liter bottles. They are easy to grip, made of recyclable PET plastic and feature twist-off seal safety caps. 

“We recognize that consumers will routinely choose a private label product if the packaging looks similar to the leading national brand,” Coleman says. “Our new retail olive oil bottles were created to offer consumers that choice.” 

In addition to its innovative packaging offerings, Catania-Spagna is SQF certified, members of the North American Olive Oil Association, Non-GMO Project, American Fats and Oils Association and is organically certified by QAI, among other achievements that make the supplier an attractive choice for retailers.

  Chase Products

The sheer scale of its product line is one way that Chase Products differentiates itself. The Broadview, Ill.-based consumer products manufacturer has formulas available for more than 1,200 products, ranging from consumer aerosol products to industrial cleaners and insecticides, and seasonal products like spray on snow. 

Most notable of the bunch, Chase has been manufacturing private label aerosols for more than 50 years. “Our excellent record with independent comparison evaluations and facility inspection audits efficiently and expeditiously supports retailer requirements,” says Judy Albazi, president and CEO. “Chase’s creative art and production graphics staff enhances and facilitates store brand packaging for existing or newly-created products.”

Most recently, the company created a value line of products that includes disinfectant, furniture polish and household cleaners to appeal to the growing consumer base shopping at dollar and discount stores.

  Clean Ones

For more than 30 years, Clean Ones has worked to improve the household gloves category. In this time, the company has become a staple in the industry—going from selling 97,000 pairs of gloves its first year in business to more than 1 billion pairs yearly today. 

Clean Ones continually innovates within the category with various product features and benefits designed to address key consumer needs, say officials for the Portland, Ore.-based company. Recently, the focus has been on using safer and healthier materials. 

“Clean Ones has always focused on the health and safety of our consumers,” says Erin Crum, director of marketing. “By working closely with our factories to offer the most beneficial material alternatives we are proud to finally say that none of our Clean Ones branded products require a warning label.” 

For its private label partners, Clean Ones offers custom analytics and research, as well as package design and merchandising strategy. Officials add that partnering with Clean Ones for private label needs ensures access to the newest products the industry has to offer, another way it is able to exceed expectations as a supplier.

  Furlani’s Food Corp.

Furlani’s Food Corp., which started as a producer of chopped garlic and garlic spread in 1984, and eventually added a baking facility in the 90s, is now a leading producer of garlic loaves and toast, cheese breadsticks and biscuits, and cornbread. 

“We have remained steadfast in our focus to produce the best value-added breads,” says a representative from Furlani’s communication department. “We understand our core consumers and cater to their desires for sensible innovation and value. Today, thanks in part to the talents of our master bakers and seasoned product development team, Furlani’s is now considered North America’s leading manufacturer of value-added bread.”

Furlani’s offers clean ingredient labels, and has removed almost all preservatives from its frozen line, officials for the Mississauga, Ont., Canada-based company say. It is now working to replace palm oil from its formulas, and says its research and development team is always working towards enhanced quality.

In an effort to attract new users to the category this past year, Furlani’s launched garlic knots, stuffed breadsticks and biscuits. Recently, the company expanded to a 250,000-square-foot manufacturing facility so that all products can be made in one space. “This manufacturing focus enables us to be the industry’s least-cost producer with exceptional quality products,” company officials add.

   J.D. Irving

J.D. Irving is a consumer paper goods private label manufacturer, dedicated to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. 

“J.D. Irving is committed to producing the finest consumer paper products,” says John Robertson, director of marketing. “We continuously refine our product selection and features based on consumer and market trends as well as new manufacturing approaches.”

The Burlington, Mass.-based company works with its partners to understand consumer information and insights as it relates to its categories. In doing so, the company helps drive private label sales through strong products and programs.

“We expect to see continued growth on private label products as retailers and private label manufacturers continue to offer great product alternatives at very affordable prices,” Robertson adds.

   JTM Foods

Founded in 1986, JTM Foods is a producer of fried snack pies. Company officials say they pioneered the pie in a box concept, designed to give the consumer a more pleasant sensory experience than other types of packaging.

JTM’s pies are baked from scratch daily at the company’s home base bakery located in Erie, Pa. Each pie is glazed and arranged in the signature pie in box packaging to ensure freshness. There are nine different flavors available every day, and special edition seasonal flavors available throughout the year. 

“What sets us apart from our competitor is the style of crust and filling, much moister and softer pie,” says Byard Ebling, vice president of sales and marketing.

JTM Foods’ latest innovation is the Duo’s 2 flavor filling pie, inspired by the fact that many consumers eat pies with ice cream and fruit. “The combo of flavors makes for a more enjoyable product and adds visual interest,” adds Ebling.

  Massimo Zanetti Beverage

​Massimo Zanetti Beverage, as a leader in coffee category management, recognized consumer demand for eco-friendly single-serve coffee pods. 

“With more than 9.8 billion plastic single-serve cups added to landfills in 2015, we had to find a solution which would reduce the amount of plastic in our waste stream, while providing the superior cup of coffee consumers expect from our current single-serve pod,” says Susan Lambert, business development manager for the corporate brands division of Massimo Zanetti Beverage. 

Massimo Zanetti’s fully compostable single-serve coffee pods, PURPOD100, are the first in the industry, say officials for the Portsmouth, Va.-based company. This environmentally friendly solution to K-Cup waste is 100 percent compostable, and will break down and turn into soil within six months, officials add. The PURPOD100 is compatible with all K-Cup brewers.  

  Omega Paw

Omega Paw’s roots—which date back to 1994—begin with dog and cat accessories. Today, the St. Marys, Ont., Canada-based company is a leading manufacturer of dog and cat treats as well. Omega Paw currently manufactures more than 60 SKUs including private label for both retailers and manufacturers. 

Omega Paw’s unique strategy for product innovation is based on reverse engineering. “We start by identifying a need or gap in the marketplace; we then try to design an ideal product to fit that need,” says Terry Hannaford, company CEO. “As a result, our starting point is not the other products on the market. Instead, our starting point is the gap in the market itself. This approach gives us a freedom to innovate and try things that have not been tried in the past.”

One example of this approach is the Smart Bath system—which Omega Paw will launch at the Global Pet Expo in March—designed to make dog baths enjoyable for both the pet and pet owner. “It is exciting because this system takes a task which most people and dogs really don’t like and makes it something that is easy and enjoyable,” Hannaford adds.

  Ricos Products Co.

Ricos Products Co. has been leading innovation in snack food for more than a century. 

The Arlington, Texas-based company’s production capabilities currently include round, triangular or strip tortilla chips in original or seasoned, and ready-to-eat popcorn made with custom seasonings. 

“Ricos takes great pride in its ability to create flexible partnerships with customers, whether it be matching existing product specifications or starting from scratch and assisting with taking innovative products from concept to shelf,” says Jeremy Powledge, COO. “We have been very successful in partnering with some of the leading national retailers.”

 The company’s latest innovation comes in the form of its new brand, Texan Original, which embodies all that is unique about being Texan. The products capture the special nature of authentic Texas flavors, and are all available for private label manufacturers as well. The line consists of restaurant style tortilla chips in three flavors: Original, Seasoned and Chipelada, which is seasoned with the spices used to make the typical Michelada drink; and hot sauces in Original, Jalapeno and Smokin’ Hot.

   SatisPie

​SatisPie prides itself on offering clean label, shelf stable pie products. Based in Rochester, N.Y., the company is a castoff from General Mills, after it purchased General Mills’ Pillsbury Pie division. SatisPie offers an assortment of flavors and sizes, most recently coconut custard and sweet potato.

“Our products are made without the unpronounceable ingredients that you find in our competitors’ pies,” says Michael Pinkowski, president. “If you need to Google an ingredient’s description to find out what it is, it’s not in our pie.”

Aside from its commitment to clean label, SatisPie has a focus on green initiatives. This year, the company is replacing its facility lights with LED fixtures and adding ceiling fans throughout the facility to de-stratify the ambient environment. Officials add that the company also plans to further increase
recycling and waste reduction efforts. 

  Seneca Foods

Seneca Foods was founded in 1949 in New York. Today, the company sources products from more than 2,000 farms across the country. 

A provider of packaged fruits and vegetables, the company, now based in Marion, N.Y., has facilities located throughout the U.S. This year, its focus is on two new innovations in store brand vegetables.

That includes a 7-ounce version of its prepped, shelf stable vegetables in four-pack, 4-ounce microwavable plastic cups. The line features a full assortment of vegetables lightly seasoned with sea salt. The goal is to make it easier for consumers to find healthy, convenient food items in the center store.

The company also introduced store brand pumpkin pie mix, to capitalize on the popularity of pumpkin in recent years. 

  U.S. Paper Alliance 

U.S. Paper Alliance is a family owned and operated manufacturer of private label paper towels, bathroom tissue, napkins and facial tissue. Though the official headquarters are in Edgewood, N.Y., the company operates manufacturing distributions facilities in both New York and Arizona. 

 Officials for the company say that its research and innovation is geared primarily toward improving quality, which is one of the ways the company has remained a leader in its categories since its inception in 1999. 

“Quality is ultimately in the eyes of the consumer,” says Steve Saraf, vice president of sales. “Our job is to provide our retail partners with superior quality products at an attractive price point relative to national brands.”

Some of the company’s many innovations include Through Air-Dried technology (TAD) that allows for a stronger, softer and more absorbent product. 

U.S. Paper Alliance makes a strong private label partner for retailers by offering expertise on optimizing product mix, and offering flexibility for a range of paper grades and quality tiers.      

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