General Merchandise/HBC

Private Labels Increased U.S. Sales to $199 Billion in 2021

IRI data shows return to pre-pandemic growth
Photograph courtesy of IRI and PLMA

NEW YORK — Private-label retail sales in the United States increased 1% to $199 billion in 2021, according to a report done for Private Label Manufacturers Association by IRI.

“The main takeaway is that retailer brands are a vibrant industry and an important piece of the U.S. grocery business, especially in difficult economic times,” said Peggy Davies, president of PLMA.

Store brand sales were sporadic in 2021, with initial increases followed by decreases an eventual recovery of about 5% growth in the last five months of the year. The transition of store brand sales into January 2022 remained strong, and when compared to January 2021, there was a 4.2% increase in dollar volume across all U.S. retail channels—almost equal to the 4.4% increase in national brands’ dollar volume.

Additional highlights from IRI data include that the private-brand dollar share in 2021 was 17.7%, while unit share was 19.6%. Both represent increases over a three-year period. 

Private-label brands grew in six of the eight departments covered by IRI. In refrigerated foods, the largest category, store brands increased by 0.7%. They also increased 1.7% in general merchandise, 0.2% in health care products, 0.8% in frozen, 11.4% in produce and 2.7% in beverages.

The overall performance of private label brands in 2021 was unexpected, according to PLMA. The beginning of the pandemic in 2020 encouraged a wider focus on cooking at home and online grocery shopping, especially as the foodservice industry was put on hold. This resulted in a 12% increase in private-label brand dollar sales in 2020. Despite the reopening of foodservice sector in 2021, this year’s steadiness of private-label brand sales represents a return to the consistent, single-digit growth that existed in pre-pandemic years.

PLMA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1979 to promote the store brands industry. PLMA, in collaboration with IRI, provides market data of both store brands and national brands in 317 categories and 967 subcategories, updated monthly.

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