The Trail to Success


The rise of private label once depended on the fall of the economy. Yet, over the past decade or so, the two have learned to work together.

The culmination of a shift in consumer mindset, demographic influence and a redefined concept of “value” has put private label and store brands in the spotlight. So much so that some of the fastest-growing grocery store companies are those that emphasize their own brands.

According to a survey by Daymon Worldwide, based in Stamford, Conn., about how consumers will spend the money they saved as a result of declining gas prices, private label came out ahead. More than one in three shoppers (35%) say they will not only continue to purchase private brands in the categories they already do, but they will also expand their private brand purchases into new categories, Daymon reports.

Add to that, 22% of respondents who identify themselves as “experimenters” say they will delve into new private brands categories for the first time, officials at Daymon note.

Retailers with extensive private label programs can vouch. Consumers continue to speak with their wallets, opting for store brands across categories and most of that is due to the innovations coming from private label manufacturers. The “national brand equivalent” has long since been replaced with category leaders.

To celebrate the segments creativity and staying power, Grocery Headquarters announces its 2015 Private Label Trailblazer Awards. Without further ado, the winners are:


A creator of fragrances and flavors, Arylessence’s mission is to develop such ‘sensory’ components for a wide variety of brands across numerous categories. The Marietta, Ga.-based company’s components are found in personal care, home care and laundry products, as well as distinctive tastes for food and beverage products, including tea, coffee, flavored waters, candy and confectionary items.

“We are a full-service fragrance and flavor provider,” says Lori Miller Burns, director of marketing. “What makes our products critically important is that ‘sensory’ fragrance and flavor experiences are what people actually want, and what marketers and retailers need to build customer loyalty.”

In a highly competitive marketplace, a great fragrance or flavor is the fastest way for a consumer to say ‘yes’ to a brand, she adds. “Our perfumers and flavorists understand consumer emotions, and choose persuasive notes and accords that reflect how people feel about the products they buy, and how they feel about themselves. Next, they make sure these strategic factors come to life when the body lotion is smoothed on the skin; the clean, fresh wash comes out of the dryer; or when the new coffee flavor is tasted for the first time.”

Bay Valley Foods

Few consumers visit a grocery store and do not see products from Bay Valley Foods. The Oakbrook, Ill.-based company’s portfolio of shelf-stable items includes single-serve hot beverages, refrigerated and shelf-stable salad dressings, pasta sauces, Mexican sauces, aseptic sauce, powdered and liquid creamers, sweeteners, canned soups, carton broth, soup, gravy and sauces, powdered and liquid drink mixes, hot cereals, macaroni and cheese, skillet dinners, jams, pudding and pie fillings and pickles.

“When you partner with Bay Valley Foods, you’re working with one of the premier food companies with extensive category knowledge and exceptional consumer insights across multiple categories in every major channel of distribution,” says Teresa Martell, marketing manager. “We provide our customers high-quality innovative products and national brand equivalents. Today, we’re your one stop for shelf-stable product needs.”

Bay Valley’s mission is to be the leading supplier of store branded products in the U.S. “We’re committed to continuous improvement, as demonstrated by our manufacturing expertise, innovative products, superior research and development, strong regional brands and state-of-the-art facilities and technology. As change continues to influence business, Bay Valley Foods will maintain and improve its high degree of flexibility and speed in order to meet your needs,” Martell adds.

Bektrom Foods

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, Bektrom Foods has something that stands out in each category. The manufacturer’s portfolio is made up of baking mixes (muffins, cakes, cookies, quick breads, cupcakes, breakfast bars), oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, spices, skillet dinners, pasta salads, instant potatoes and more. In addition to private label, Bektrom sells under its house brand and licensed brands, as well as offering large and small co-packing arrangements.

Becktrom’s facilities consist of approximately 300,000 square feet with primary shipping points in Colgate, N.D. and Monroe, Mich. The latter is also where the company’s headquarters is located—in a historic building that was founded as a flour mill in the early 1900’s, and has been producing and packaging baking mixes since 1981. “We produce more than 350 SKUs which enables our customers to easily order full trucks with a wide mix of products,” says Tom Barbella, president.

Bektrom provides in-house research and development in order to assist customers in creating a custom formulation that meets exact specifications. This service is complemented by its internal graphics team, which designs packaging artwork making sure to be in compliance with all of the expected ingredient and nutritional labeling requirements.

“No matter the trends that come and go, Bektrom is always capable of meeting your needs and will help you adapt to achieve whatever product, merchandising or packaging innovations you are looking for,” says Barbella.

Brush Buddies

With more than 12 years experience working with dentists, Brush Buddies president Anish Patel learned that getting kids to brush their teeth was very difficult. He came up with a solution to make brushing fun—an animal-shaped talking toothbrush that guides kids through the brushing process for the dentist-recommended two minutes.

This past year the Fontana, Calif.-based company introduced the Soniclean Pro powered toothbrush line. Currently the line includes the Pro 2000, a battery-operated Sonic powered toothbrush that includes two brush heads and two modes; the Pro 3000, a rechargeable Sonic powered toothbrush that includes three brush heads and three modes; and the Pro 5000, a rechargeable Sonic powered toothbrush that includes four brush heads, three modes and a UV Sanitizer.

“What makes this product unique is the patented sonic vibrations that provide the user with a full sweep motion on the bristles, similar to the way a dentist recommends you brush your teeth,” says Patel, “as well as whitening and sensitive bristles and an ultra-light handle.” Brush Buddies has also developed an innovative travel case that has a mini USB port, which allows the user to charge their brush and sanitize their brush heads.

Catania-Spagna Corp.

With more than 100 years experience, Catania-Spagna is a family-owned business that is now in its fourth generation. The Ayer, Mass.-based company’s mission is to provide innovative quality products to customers in an efficient, economical and environmentally responsible manner.

Whether looking for extra virgin olive oil, vegetable oil, a specific oil blend or specialty oil, retailers want a supplier known for its quality products, reliability and service, “which is precisely how we have built our strong reputation,” says Mark Coleman, vice president of retail sales. “When putting your name on a Catania product you can be assured of getting the quality and value needed to build a strong brand.”

In addition to offering a full line of oils in an assortment of sizes and packaging materials, the company is also a member of the Non-GMO Project and organically certified by Quality Assurance International.

“We are living in a society that is becoming more and more health and environmentally conscious. Consumers across the country are demanding better-for-you foods and reading the ingredient statements on the products they buy,” says Coleman. “European standards are such that all oils are derived from non-GMO sources and the U.S. is finally taking this seriously with the growth of the Non-GMO Project. Having the ability to provide products that fit this standard is more important now than ever.”

Clean Ones Corp.

Since 1984, Clean Ones has built a name for itself by providing high-quality, high-value household gloves at a reasonable price. Using consumer insights to innovate and improve the glove wearing experience, Clean Ones consistently develops products with features and benefits especially designed to address key consumer needs, say company officials. 

The Portland, Ore.-based company offers both reusable and disposable latex, Nitrile and vinyl gloves, under the Clean Ones brand and private label. They are sold in the cleaning, automotive and healthcare sections of retailers across North America.

The company takes pride in being a comprehensive category provider. “What sets Clean Ones apart from other manufacturers in the glove category is our commitment to the satisfaction of both our branded and private label consumers, with all products backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee,” says Erin Crum, marketing director. “Close collaboration with our manufacturing facilities, consumers and retailers has helped us consistently provide high-quality, innovative private label products, helping many national retailers enhance their own brands.” 

Clearwater Paper Corp.

With a heritage dating back to the mid 1960’s, Clearwater Paper has pioneered product offerings that have supported increased private brand penetration with customers in key markets across the U.S. The Spokane, Wash.-based company’s portfolio includes innovative offerings such as the launch of leading national brand comparable quality products in the mid 1990’s, Through-Air-Dried (TAD) paper towels in 2004 and more recently, TAD bath tissue in 2013.

Today, Clearwater is the largest dedicated supplier of private brand tissue, says Bruce Woodlief, director of product management and marketing, with a footprint of production facilities across the U.S. providing products for all quality tiers of bath and facial tissue, paper towels and napkins.

Understanding the importance of environmental sustainability, Clearwater became the first private brand tissue company to offer FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) tissue products in 2010. “With FSC certification, consumers are assured that their store brand tissue products are made with fiber sourced from well-managed forests,” says Woodlief, adding that the company also manufactures quality recycled fiber products.

“As a strategic partner with customers, Clearwater Paper is committed to sales and marketing support, customer service and product quality that is second to none in private brand tissue,” he adds.

Diamond Wipes International

This year, Diamond Wipes International marks its 20th anniversary. Producing nearly three million wipes daily, the Chino, Calif.-based company caters to various markets including beauty and personal care, healthcare, hospitality, foodservice, janitorial and sanitation and retail store brands.

Offering both national brand equivalents and differentiated private label products for retailers, Diamond Wipes officials are proud of its in-house research and development capabilities, possessing a library of more than 2,000 distinct formulations that span a variety of industries.

Showing its commitment to responsible manufacturing and conservation of natural resources, the company’s portfolio of wipes includes FSC and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Diamond Wipes offers biodegradable and compostable based 100% rayon substrates as well as nature’s renewable material, bamboo, for customers seeking improved sustainability.

“By offering wet wipe products the support the growth of responsible forest management worldwide, Diamond Wipes and its customers can collaborate in improving the livelihoods of forest communities while conserving natural resources for future generations,” says Fernando Gallego, director of global retail sales. “In choosing to purchase FSC & Rainforest Alliance Certified wipes from Diamond Wipes, these seals of environmental commitment can also be placed on your packaging.”

Global Tissue Group

Global Tissue Group (GTG) has fostered a reputation for providing value for its customers as their private label paper manufacturer for bath tissue, facial tissue, napkins and paper towels.

“Through excellence in product delivery to innovative manufacturing processes we have become a leading converter of household paper products,” says Daniel David, executive vice president, adding that GTG is one of the few in the industry to provide three levels of paper quality: standard, premium and ultra-premium.

The Medford, N.Y.-based manufacturer has built its reputation and gained industry respect by providing the highest standards and quality. “In creating diversified household paper products that cater to every market category, retailers can feel confident putting their store brand private label on our goods,” says David. “We bring the trust and comfort of our relationship to your consumers, who will grow to depend upon our standard of manufacturing excellence through our private label programs, contract manufacturing or our control brands.”

Haso USA

“Dedication to improving the quality of life” is what Haso USA officials want retailers to think of when they hear the company name. Not only regarding the Norcross, Ga.- based company’s products, but also the way it conducts its business, says Chris Nippert, vice president of marketing.

While simple in concept, the company’s mission—“creating happier homes and happier lives”—is a philosophy built around making life itself better and the foundation for all of Haso USA’s business processes, resulting in organic industry-defining product breakthroughs.

“An example is the development of our flushable wipes Rapid Dissolve Technology, which gives our wipes the dissolvability of toilet paper,” says Nippert. “Working with Wastewater Management, we developed an extensive line of flushable wipes made with 100% natural fiber, capable of dissolving 10 times faster than the industry’s next best flushable wipe, while maintaining comparable in-use strength.

“At their annual conference in 2014, Wastewater Management showcased this technology, along with our newest product, the industry’s first flushable Baby Wipe, proclaiming it ‘a solution to the flushability problem,’” adds Nippert. In February, the company is opening a 103,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Norcross, Ga. to begin producing flushable wipes in the U.S.

Irving Consumer Products

Irving Consumer Products (ICP) is part of J.D. Irving (JDI), a family-owned company that operates in a variety of business segments, such as forestry and forest products, consumer products, food, shipbuilding retail, transportation and more.

Committed to helping customers grow by providing quality consumer packaged goods that deliver outstanding value, the Dieppe, N.B., Canada-based company’s ongoing focus on innovation, technology and consumer driven insights ensures premium quality products designed to deliver customer satisfaction, say company officials.

The Through-Air Dried (TAD) machine is a great example of ICP leading innovation in the grocery industry. This technology has provided retailers with the ability to offer customers a premium quality product under their own brand name, equivalent to leading national brands in both towels and bathroom tissue.

As a leading supplier of private label or store brands for major retailers across Canada and the United States, ICP is also the only manufacturer of baby diapers and training pants in Canada. ICP also makes some of North America’s top-selling tissue brands, including Royale and Majesta in Canada, and Scotties Facial Tissue in the U.S. 

Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

There is certainly no denying that the “morning cup of joe” has changed over the past decade. Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA recently invested in a comprehensive study that revealed not only what shoppers want in their coffee experience but what they want in their shopping experience when they are making their packaged coffee purchases.

The good news for grocery retailers, company officials note, is that 83% of coffee drinkers prepare their coffee at home, according to a National Coffee Association drinking trends report.

“The single most important finding in this research is that consumers shop the coffee aisle by type of coffee first, and ground coffee remains the overwhelming choice for the majority of households,” says Susan Lambert, business development manager/corporate brands for the Suffolk, Va.-based company. “According to the report, the leading attributes a coffee consumer desires are superior taste, followed by preferred roast level. For store brands, these attributes are the same, and shoppers loyal to store brands look for quality even before they consider price.”

With the explosive growth of single-serve, Massimo officials say that it is still important to recognize the significance of the remaining segments of the coffee category. The coffee category is about 5% of total center store dollars, yet grocers are not getting their fair share, as current share of requirements hover around 44% for coffee, but 55% for average grocery, officials add.

Omega Paw

Omega Paw values innovation, quality and integrity and continually strives to create innovative products made with quality, say company officials. Regardless if it is a product under one of the Omega Paw brands or for one of its many private label customers, Terry Hannaford, CEO of the St. Marys, Ont., Canada-based company, says they strive to bring innovative, exciting new items that are made with quality ingredients to the consumer. 

Integrity is especially important to Omega Paw when developing private label products. Communicating and acting with integrity is a vital component of building a long-term relationship with a private label customer, says Hannaford. “When one of our customers asks us to make a product for their brand we consider it an honor that we do not take lightly. We work hard to earn and keep the trust of all of our customers.”

Omega Paw is a forward thinking company that does its best to develop products that fill the gaps in the pet industry and work closely with its customers to identify and develop products that meet their needs and wants.

“At Omega Paw we realize that we need to create innovative quality products. We also realize the need for excellent customer service and relations, and strive to go above and beyond to make sure that our customers are more than satisfied,” says Hannaford.

The company currently manufactures products in a number of different categories: soft and hard dog treats, long lasting chew bones, soft cat treats, litter boxes, litter accessories, feeding accessories, dental care, dog skin care, dog toys, cat toys, cat furniture and more.

Palo Foods

When the Palo Foods owners heard about a struggling popcorn company in the Autumn of 2010 that produced what they considered “fantastic cheddar flavored popcorn,” they inquired. By early 2011, the family was the owner of the company,

Along with the company and its popcorn, the family acquired a small family-owned upscale grocery chain customer. “This private label customer was our largest customer and was responsible for helping us grow our private label business as well as our branded products,” says Jim Chisholm, president, of the Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based company, adding that although Palo has been in business for more than 50 years, most of the growth in sales has been in the last four years.

The company’s mission over the years has been to make its natural craft produced cheddar popcorns available to everyone at grocery, mass market and C-stores around the country at reasonable prices—not only gourmet retailers. “Our private label customers are helping us do this along with our branded products, with business split almost 50/50 between private label and branded,” says Chisholm.

The family of entrepreneurs say they love making a great product and working with their distributors, wholesalers and brokers to market the natural and intensely flavored popcorns around the country. “We are gratified to have a wonderful group of dedicated employees helping us grow our business rapidly,” Chisholm adds. 

Phoenix Food

After acquiring a dry mix company three years ago, Phoenix Food has launched a number of products and services for companies to sell under its own label. The Dallas-based company’s portfolio includes premium dry mixes to assist consumers in making gourmet quality food in a matter of minutes.

“Premium dry mixes is an underserved opportunity and our focus has been to introduce new products in markets as well as provide alternatives to frozen or already prepared foods,” says Ken Johnson, CEO. “The secret to creating premium dry mixes is in the product sourcing, flavor profile creation and continuous quality execution in manufacturing. We excel in every aspect of that and we love to provide one of a kind flavor profiles for a unique finished product.”

New to the market, the company’s organic line, Modern Pantry, has gained a lot of interest, says Johnson. “We want to make life easier for people who want great tasting gourmet quality food, but just don’t have the time to create every aspect of what is involved in the process.”

Premier Brands of America

Premier Brands of America celebrates more than 40 years as a privately held manufacturer, packager and marketer of high-quality OTC and non-OTC health and beauty aid products. The breadth of the Mount Vernon, N.Y.-based company’s product offerings includes more than 125 different items that provide comfort and care in the areas of first aid, foot care, medicated spray, depilatory and beauty; most recently adding numerous products in categories such as nail care and baby care.

With products in more than 50,000 retailers globally, “Premier offers superior quality products through a dedication to continuous innovation and service,” says Vinnie Gioffre, vice president of sales. “Our commitment to building ‘your store brand’ is unsurpassed by upholding the high standard of your brand from start to finish.”

Looking forward, Premier is expanding its product line to encompass the offerings of a true “Wellness” manufacturer. Innovation, along with a constant focus on quality, service and price have played a large role in differentiating Premier from its competition, and helping it remain a strong, viable company more than 40 years after its inception, says Gioffre. “Premier strives to be not just equal to, but truly being better than the national brand, while remaining cost conscious.”


SatisPie originated from a chance meeting of the company’s owner Mike Pinkowski and an executive from General Mills. In 2007, SatisPie was formed with the purchase of General Mill’s Pillsbury Pie Division. The turnaround of the pie category had begun and SatisPie had begun transforming its products.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company made a quick decision to change its product line to be one that consumers would buy again and again—and that the company’s owner would feed his own children. Artificial ingredients, thickening gums and low fruit content were all reformulated in order to produce a higher quality product, at a reasonable price point to the consumer, says Pinkowski, president. “A classic example from pre-SatisPie was that the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie had only 4.069% strawberry content; strawberries are now the number one ingredient in our pie.”

A co-packer of nationally branded products and producing its own in-store bakery products, the company began developing its own SatisPie formulation and packaging that could be sold either as branded product for smaller distribution or as a private label product for larger customers. “It was critical that the product would exceed consumer expectations at a price point that would return pies to a favored dessert item,” says Pinkowski.

Seneca Foods

With facilities located near prime growing regions throughout the U.S., Seneca Foods is a packaged fruits and vegetables provider holding large shares of the retail store brands, foodservice and export canned vegetable markets. In addition to that, the Marion, N.Y.-based company distributes product under brands, such as Libby’s, Aunt Nellie’s, Reads and Seneca.

With a heritage that began in 1949, Seneca remains committed to ensuring that customers receive the highest quality products at the lowest possible cost, says Kathy Sheldon, vice president category management, adding that Seneca’s roots start in the fields of America’s family farms. “Producing much of their own seed requirements, Seneca has a team of agronomists and field service representatives that work directly with thousands of family farms across the U.S. Sustainable practices and protecting the environment are core beliefs—an honor and responsibility that are primary components to the company culture,” she adds. In order to ensure the highest quality fruits and vegetables, Seneca harvests most of the crops themselves.

Seneca was the first prepared fruit and vegetable supplier to convert to cans made without BPA in the lining bringing significant innovation to the shelf stable vegetable category, says Sheldon. Following that, the company launched 4- and 7-ounce microwaveable vegetable cups, and then vegetables in pouches for both branded and store brand customers in 2014.

Silver Spring Foods

For 85 years, Silver Spring Foods has been growing, processing and cooking with the finest quality ingredients in the market in the U.S. The Eau Claire, Wis.-based company offers versatile and flexible co-packing capabilities, while maintaining excellent product quality and taste at affordable prices, say company officials. Its 167,000-square-foot manufacturing facility has the capability to process both cooked and cold products.

Silver Spring produces award-winning formulas for private label, with capabilities that include: refrigerated and shelf-stable horseradish, specialty mustards, dipping sauces, mayonnaise, aioli, salad dressings, marinades, Asian barbecue sauces and seafood sauces.

“The condiment category has been quickly evolving over the years,” says Wendy Kado, regional sales manager. “The demographic makeup of the U.S. is ever-changing and consumers are showing an increased awareness of the importance of healthy living. As a result, Silver Spring has been seeing a large demand for more ethnic flavors and healthful flavor enhancers.”

Some of the new private label sauces include Thai Chili Ketchup, Chipotle Ranch, Parmesan Garlic Wing Sauce and Sweet Thai Chili Wing Sauce. One segment the company has recognized growth is retail specialty mustard and sauces.

Trilliant Food Beverage & Nutrition

Before there was Trilliant Food Beverage & Nutrition, there was the Victor Allen coffee company. The company strived to offer high-quality specialty coffee to the convenience stores and coffee shops in the greater Wisconsin area.

With that, a legacy was built and the company—now Trilliant Food Beverage & Nutrition, based in Little Chute, Wis.—has grown into a multi-category, high-quality hot beverage supplier to all segments of the food and beverage industry. The legacy of superior quality coffee, impeccable customer service and delicious products has grown into the single-serve beverage cup market and beyond, says Billie Rice, vice president, sales.

To stand out in today’s competitive marketplace, especially in the single-serve coffee category, company officials note several points of difference. First of all and most importantly, they say, Trilliant is vertically integrated, allowing the company to have tight control over the supply chain. “Our coffee expertise sets us apart from others that may be simply ‘re-packing’ product into the single cup format,” says Rice.

Secondly, a wide breadth of products within the hot beverage category offers retailers a one-stop shop for bagged, fractional pack and single-serve coffee, as well as cocoa, cappuccino and hot tea products in the single-serve cup format. Lastly, a robust innovation pipeline has captured the industry’s attention and continues to lead this category in new product development and launches.

U.S. Alliance Paper

U.S. Alliance Paper has grown into one of the nation’s largest private label tissue converters by developing innovative, quality products for value-oriented consumers, and high-margin paper programs for its retail customers, say company officials.

“Our growth and expansion are based on successfully translating consumer demand and trends into profitable paper programs for our retail customers,” says Steve Sarraf, vice president of sales. “We have the expertise and manufacturing flexibility to help them develop the right product mix and balance of price point, paper grade, sheet count and package configuration to calibrate their offering to their specific consumer demographic. With the right balance and product tiers, they have an immediate price/value advantage over national brands.”

For retail customers who do not have the volume requirements for private label, the Edgewood, N.Y.-based company offers a number of control brands. The Daisy line of kitchen towels, bath tissue, napkins and facial tissues was specifically developed for the discount and dollar store segments of trade, while the Delicate Touch line offers consumer-tested and preferred package configurations for grocery and mass merchandisers.

Recently, U.S. Alliance Paper launched the environmentally friendly Earth First line, its third control brand. The line of napkins, kitchen towels and bath tissue is manufactured from 100% recycled fiber with 80% post-consumer content, and is whitened without chlorine bleach.

With manufacturing plants and distribution facilities in Phoenix, Ariz. and Edgewood, N.Y., the company has a national footprint with a keen awareness of regional nuances.

This entry was posted in 2015 02 Article Archives, FEATURED Articles, Upfront and tagged Arylessence, Bay Valley Foods, Bektrom Foods, Brush Buddies, Catania-Spagna Corp., Clean Ones Corp, Clearwater Paper Corp., Diamond Wipes International, Global Tissue Group, Haso USA, Irving Consumer Products, Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, Omega Paw, Palo Foods, Phoenix Food, Premier Brands of America, private label, Private Label Trailblazers, Satispie, Seneca Foods, Silver Spring Foods, trailblazers, Trilliant Food Beverage & Nutrition, U.S. Alliance Paper. Bookmark the permalink.

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