Private label on track to match record 2022 growth

In the face of economic pressures, consumers continue to search for value by turning to grocers’ private label options.
A photo illustration showing products in Walmart's "Great Value" brand.
  • Sales of private label products are on track to meet record growth seen last year.
  • According to PLMA, store brands saw about twice the growth of national brands in the first quarter of 2023.
  • Sales for national brands were down 3.9% in March but were down only 0.7% for store brands. 

Private label products saw record growth in 2022, and they’re on track to see similar growth this year, according to data from the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) and Circana. 

Dollar volume for store brands increased by 10.3% from January through March this year compared to the same time last year, according to the data. National brands in comparison grew by about half — 5.6% —  compared to the first three months of 2022. That data includes both food and non-food items, according to PLMA. 

“The Q1 results are particularly impressive since they are compared to 2022 sales figures, which were historically high for U.S. store brands,” said Peggy Davies, president of PLMA, in a release. 

Store brands also have captured more of the market. Dollar share in the category rose to 19.1%  compared to 18.5% in the first quarter of last year. Unit share grew to 20.8%, according to the data, compared to 20.3% in 2022. Both private-label brands and national brands lost unit sales in the first quarter, though store brands fared better. Unit sales for store brands were off by 1% in the first quarter compared to 3.9% for national brands, a sign that consumers are trading in national brands for private label counterparts, PLMA said. 

That trend is on par with larger trends in essential retail, where consumers continue to look for greater value amid economic hardships, like inflation in food and other categories. Grocers also have continued forward on their private labels amid growth in the category. Dollar Tree plans to introduce hundreds of private label products this year, Retail Leader previously reported. Natural Grocer recently unveiled new private label products that include mustards and canned seafood, adding to its existing store brand that first launched in 2016. 

Fifteen store brand categories saw increased dollar sales in the first quarter of the year. Some categories saw double-digit growth, including: 

  • Beverages — 17.1%. 
  • Bakery goods —  16.8%. 
  • General food —  16%. 
  • Refrigerated items —  15.5%. 
  • Floral —  13.1%. 
  • Deli —  12.4%. 
  • Health care products —  10%. 

Smaller growth was posted across other categories, including: 

  • Deli cheese —  9% 
  • General merchandise —  8.8%. 
  • Beauty — 7.4%. 
  • Frozen —  7.1%. 
  • Produce — 6.8%. 
  • Deli meat — 5.8%.
  • Liquor —  5.8%.
  • Health —  4.3%. 

Sales fell in the tobacco category by 11.8% and by 1.6% in the meat category, according to the PLMA and Circana data.

Last year, store brand sales hit an annual sales record of $228.6 billion, according to PLMA. That’s an overall increase of 11.3% from sales in 2021. That growth was nearly double the growth seen by national brands, which grew by 6.1% last year.