Top tips for attending one of the world’s largest private label trade shows; PLMA

Private Label has grown over the past 25 years, with grocery chains experiencing a significant rise in private label of up to 60% (Oracle, 2019). The objective required of procurement professionals in the retail industry is to ‘buy better’ and compete with discounters. With the uncertainties of post-Brexit, trade tariffs need to be taken into consideration to combat future costs whilst maintaining quality for the consumer. This rapid movement to alternative suppliers will put pressure on food retailers across Ireland to react, as supply base options narrow for the demand on EU suppliers. German discounters like Aldi & Lidl have dramatically improved their offering since first arriving in 1999. With the focus now on local produce and Irish origin the larger retailers are lowering price points as the discounters compete on quality.


Last year I flew to Amsterdam to attend one of the largest private label trade shows, PLMA, for my third time. In my role I focus on sourcing private label products for Irish retailers. PLMA is a two-day event, with over 4,000 global exhibitors, from suppliers to manufacturers. It is one of the largest trade shows in Europe after Anuga in Cologne. It caters for both food (fresh, frozen and refrigerated foods, dry grocery and beverages) and non-food products (cosmetics, health & beauty, household and kitchen, auto aftercare, garden and household DIY) and includes suppliers for major retailers and discounters across the world.


Over 5,000 visitors and buyers descended on the conference to find new and existing products to compete within the retail industry and engage with potential suppliers. The annual event is important to attend as manufacturers are investing in their companies to be able to provide larger ranges. Teams of product developers and technologists are present, seeking to bring new lines to life to compete in this heavily saturated industry. The opportunities to bring value to your company are plentiful.


With the aforementioned rise of discounters in Ireland, neighbouring retailers across the EU have subsequently lowered prices of product to compete but have also expanded their range to include non-food goods. The non-food section increases year on year at PLMA, as there is more of a demand from consumers on retailers to provide a ‘one stop shop’ to include an array of products from clothing, garden and DIY products.


Amongst many others, I met Dry-Lock, one of the most impressive stands in the 2019 trade show. Large digital screens were used as walls to display video adverts of the products and how the new ‘magic tube’ technology works. Dry-Lock supply private label nappies to major retailers and have developed a new technology to compete with branded Pampers magic tube technology for more absorption than leading brands. With a very impressive resume of fast tracking to success in just 5 years from first opening their doors they have already established themselves to be serious competitors within private label.



Health is a major topic with many confectionary and cereal companies making claims of using little or no sugar, only naturally occurring. Alternatives to salt-heavy snacks were substituted for trendy ingredients such as quinoa and kale. Gluten free was also a hot topic in recent years and is in high demand along with the need of multiple allergens to be omitted from factory lines. Ireland’s population has a higher than average percentage of coeliac affected people due the high existence of wheat in the diet.


My 5 top tips for PLMA visitors:

  1. Have ideas on what products you are looking to target. There is a room filled with thousands of experts with innovative ideas to assist retailers and businesses to grow their current range.
  2. Navigation is key in PLMA. With over 14 halls the new app is a must for a user-friendly experience. The halls are organised into regions so that each pavilion consists of relevant products of that origin (e.g. Italian includes pasta and sauces etc.).
  3. In preparation for PLMA, once registered it is wise to communicate with current suppliers/agents that may also be in attendance on the day to catch-up and arrange a meeting to discuss product ranges etc.
  4. The majority of exhibitors included products belonging to UK and EU retailers that they cater for. This is a great benchmarking exercise to see how your products measures up across the market.
  5. Preparation is key but keeping an open mind to products is vital. Buyers may identify gaps in your product range increasing your competitive advantage over other retailers

Every year PLMA is held in the month of May. Due to the Covid19 pandemic PLMA has been postponed to December 2020.


Maybe I will see you then?


Follow the link here to discover more about PLMA:


Written by; Suzie Lynch


5 Critical Steps to Stop your Supply Chain Disintegrating

This global pandemic we are experiencing is the most significant economic disruption since the 1930s. Apart from the human tragedies every day, we have to consider the global disruption to business in general, and in the supply chain in particular.

In response to that the team at IDDEA are helping companies ensure they have what they need to keep delivering and keep their promises to their customers.

  • Helping a construction company source the materials it needs to build much needed homes.
  • Guiding a transport company to ensure that it can procure what it needs to keep trains on the track.
  • Partnering with a major grocery retailer to keep bread, flour and canned products on the shelves.

Supply chains are under pressure; but the winning companies have developed a Five Point Procurement Plan to increase the resilience of supply and build better relationships with key suppliers. (In many cases they have also achieved significant cost savings, by focusing on the problem.)

Step one: Where do you start? Identify your top suppliers

To assist with strengthening your supply chain, start with the information you have at hand. Look at the data which can be used within your business. Your financial data provides visibility and a window into your supply base; it is the first step in identifying your critical suppliers. This spend information will tell you the story of where you are spending most of your money. It is important to measure these suppliers by spend but also by the risk they pose to your business.

To help identify top suppliers ask yourself:

  • What would happen to my business if this supplier stopped trading?
  • Would there be an immediate impact?
  • Would you experience a supply interruption or how many weeks would it take to impact your business?
  • What are the attributes of your current critical suppliers?
  • How quickly can you change to an alternative?

Any single source supply channel, regardless of spend, may be a potential issue to your ongoing operation.

What supply criteria is key for your business? – it may be cost, quality, delivery or lead-time, service or brand reputation. Make a list of your essential requirements and reference it with your supplier base. Identify your critical suppliers and make a finalised list of who they are.

Step two: Reach out and communicate – suppliers

Once identified, it’s important to stay connected with these top suppliers even if you don’t need to buy currently.

Key questions to ask them:

  • Are they still operating? (and in what capacity?)
  • Have they new ways of working? If so, what are they?
  • Are their strategies changing? (responses to difficult times tells a lot – flexibility, determination to get ahead of competition, etc.)
  • What are they doing to minimise your risk as their customer?
  • How can they support you? (renegotiate credit terms, redistribution of stock, buy back etc.)
  • Can you work together to resolve any issues or think of better ways of working going forward?

Brainstorm to find opportunities within the conversation and ensure you continue to check in with them regularly.

Step 3: Establishing new suppliers – what’s involved?

If you feel you need to explore potential new suppliers, conducting market research will better inform you. Tools like Porter’s 5 forces, SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis are very useful in conducting market analysis.

Think about the key questions you need to ask potential suppliers. Condition them effectively by developing an RFI (request for information) template.

This should include your important considerations and criteria such as:

  • Do you require quality standards or certifications (e.g. ISO, QS)?
  • Is the supplier financially viable?
  • Will they extend you credit terms and establish a line of credit?
  • What are the costs associated with shipping goods?
  • Is location something you need to consider?
  • What are the tiers of their raw materials?
  • What are their product specifications or technical information?

Also think about the key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Should you change your sourcing strategies to include a more local approach?
  • How will establishing new suppliers impact your costs?
  • What is your breakeven figure?
  • Can you absorb cost increases, or will you have to increase prices?
  • Will new suppliers impact your brand?
  • What are your competitors doing? Market research into your competitors response can provide interesting insights.
  • Are there government funding schemes available to help with your capital and cash flow?

When you have answered the relevant questions above, finally ask yourself: How can you use this information to bring value to your organisation?

Step four: Reach out and communicate – key clients

Reach out to your key clients and share how you are building supply resilience with them; they will appreciate being informed and knowing that their demands can be met.

Points to discuss with clients:

  • Advise clients on the work you are doing to minimise risk.
  • Listen to their concerns and enquire as to how you can help.
  • Ask can you work collaboratively to joint measure risk and plan for future growth.
  • Inform your clients of the inventory you are holding and ask would they be interested in forward paying for this stock at a reduced cost?
  • Find out if their strategy is changing and find an opportunity for you to be involved, this will help to strengthen your relationship.

Remember, you are the vital link between your suppliers and your clients, and you must endeavour to tighten that chain of supply.

Step five: Use this time wisely

Finally, look at your existing business operations holistically. Companies rarely have time for reflection and observation, now is the perfect time!

To identify what you can improve on ask yourself:

  • What were those initiatives you felt were interesting but never had time to focus on?
  • Do you need to enhance your marketing capabilities?
  • Is there an opportunity for online trading?
  • If you’re already online, is your eCommerce platform fit for purpose?
  • Is it time to enhance your online presence?
  • Can you build specifications to future proof your business?
  • Can you avail of government grants and support to enhance your online platform?

Remember …

Use this time to improve your business and plan for the near future. We will shortly see the return of employees to work and the reopening of non-essential retail outlets. You will need to develop new and innovative ways of working, both in your company and with your suppliers, that are compatible with social distancing.

  1. Analyse your data and making note of your key suppliers and materials.
  2. Collaborate with your suppliers
  3. Communicate with your customers – remember you are their supplier.
  4. Identify risks and opportunities in your supply chain and broaden your supply base. (Look for local opportunities; we all need to help each other and the answer to your supply chain might be closer than you think.)
  5. Use this time wisely.

Finally, remember that we will emerge from this period of uncertainty. What is important now is to take the lessons we have learned to build a stronger foundation from which we will rise and rebuild our businesses. We can be changed by what happens to us, but we will refuse to be reduced by it.

Stay safe and stay strong.

At IDDEA, we are committed to empowering professional buyers to positively impact their businesses through strategic sourcing. Changing buying behaviours can prove challenging, however our strategic procurement framework is proven in bringing success and improving results for businesses. Get more info here:


Procurement Framework

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