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:
- 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.
- 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.).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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: https://www.plmainternational.com/
Written by; Suzie Lynch