All private label now

Brooklea is Aldi's private label dairy brand

It used to be that with private label, own brand dairy was the poor relation to branded products. The commodity SKUs that everyone bought just when they couldn’t be bothered buying branded, or the brand wasn’t available.

However, savvy shoppers have long known that some private labels are just the branded ones in disguise, and consumers now expect an own-brand product to be the equal of, if not the superior to, a branded product. I suspect the advent of the German discounters has contributed to this phenomenon.

This presents retailers and manufacturers with an issue – should they discount their branded products by supplying private label? I think in today’s marketplace, to not provide a private label option would be a bit of a disaster.

Müller must think so. It has added to its private label team by creating the role of commercial director, private label & food service, which is being held by David Hollins, currently private label business unit head at Müller Yogurt & Desserts. This is an expansion of Müller’s private label business, which has seen a fair amount of growth. Hollins joined Müller in 2012 and created the existing private label yogurt and dessert business, which completed a £50 million (€58.6m) expansion earlier this year.

Of course, the margins aren’t as big and the marketing plans are left to whatever retailer is providing the products. And in some cases, such as PDO cheeses, the cheese type itself is the brand, regardless of who is selling it. There is also the issue if the plant supplying a host of branded and own-label type products goes off-line for whatever reason (I still recall with a shudder the ginger nut shortage in 2016, when the Carlisle plant for United Biscuits, makers of McVitie’s, was flooded), a chunk of the market will be bereft.

At any rate, wherever the profit is, the processor must follow. And I stockpile ginger nuts now. Climate change…

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