PLMA: Private brands uphold market share despite pandemic

Last year, private-label dollar sales totaled $158.8 billion, up 11.6% from $142.3 billion in 2019, according to PLMA’s 2021 Private Label Yearbook, released Tuesday.

For both private label and national brands, market share held firm in dollars and units last year, PLMA said.

The 2021 PLMA yearbook is based on NielsenIQ food and nonfood sales data in the food, drug, mass, club and dollar retail channels for 52 weeks ended Dec.

In 2020, COVID-related retail impacts ranged from shopper panic-buying in the early months — resulting in ongoing supply chain interruptions in high-demand categories — to socially distanced in-store shopping and a near doubling of online sales year over year, according to PLMA.

Private brands remained a core choice for consumers as traditional restaurant and other foodservice dollars flowed into the grocery space — whether due to shutdowns of bars and restaurants, restrictions on eating out, cancelled vacations and travel, or the need to substitute at home for daily commuter and office meals and school lunches, PLMA explained.

“Analysis needs to take these anomalies of the 2020 data into account,” PLMA President Peggy Davies said in a statement.

Restaurant and foodservice industry sales sank $240 billion last year from an expected level of $899 billion, and 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed temporarily or permanently, according to data from the National Restaurant Association.

The gains represented a reversal of trends in the supermarket segment, which for a number of years had seen only moderate, mostly inflationary sales growth and declining unit volumes, PLMA noted.

National brands posted larger gains in the supermarket channel for 2020, up by 16.6% in dollars to $330.6 billion from $283.5 billion and by 10.1% in units to 95.1 billion from 86.4 billion, PLMA’s yearbook said.

Meanwhile, the mass retail channel — encompassing mass merchants, club and dollar stores — topped supermarkets in private-label unit volume growth for 2020, up 8.2% to 23.9 billion versus a 4.9% rise to 69.6 billion for national brands.

At the end of 2020, private-brand share in drug stood at 15.9% in dollars and 15.7% in units, compared with 84.1% in dollars and 84.3% in units for national brands.

Across retail channels, household paper and plastics finished 2020 as the largest private-label category by dollar volume, at $10.7 billion with a 37.4% share of the total category, according to the PLMA yearbook.

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