Consumers Have Appetite for Unbranded Pizza, Snacks


In a year when consumers were looking to cut back anywhere they could, private label made inroads in a lot of categories, but took the biggest slices from segments like baby food and frozen pizza.

According to a report compiled by the Nielsen Co., unit sales of private label baby foods grew 22.3 percent for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 3. (Data cited is culled from the food, drug and mass merchandiser channels, including Walmart. Nielsen execs said that since prices have dropped from their year-ago highs, units are a better measure of private label's growth than dollar sales. Brandweek is owned by Nielsen.)

Other categories that were hard hit by private label include salad dressings and mayonnaise, snacks, and candles and incense.

Overall, unit sales of private label goods rose 5.3 percent for the same period. That compares to a 2.3 percent drop for branded packaged goods over that time frame.

Clearly, consumers are buying private label now more than ever, and retailers like Walmart, Target, 7-Eleven and even regional chains like the New York drugstore Duane Reade are stepping up marketing of their private label products.

This year's rise comes after private label grew at a calculated annual growth rate of 4.5 percent over the last eight years, per Euromonitor, but the recession set off the sudden spark, said Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG trend insight at market research firm Mintel. Much of that growth spurt, too, is coming from existing-not new-private label launches.

What that indicates is that consumers are "rediscovering or discovering private label that has been on the market that they've never noticed before," she said.

Michelle Barry, senior vp at research and consulting firm the Hartman Group, said the food category has been hit especially hard because consumers are staying at home more and are more experimental when it comes to trying different food brands.

Continue to next page →