TreeHouse Has Rough Ride in Pandemic

April 19, 2021
Private label powerhouse TreeHouse Foods got out of the red in 2020 but didn’t do as well as many of its branded-goods competitors during the pandemic.

Private label powerhouse TreeHouse Foods got out of the red in 2020 but didn’t do as well as many of its branded-goods competitors during the pandemic, according to its annual report and statements by company executives.

The company posted net sales of $4.34 billion in 2020, a 1.4% rise over last year. It showed a net income of $13.8 million, compared with a net loss of $110.3 million last year.

2020 was a rough year for private label in general. After years of taking market share from branded CPG products, private label saw its share fall back, with branded goods outstripping private label goods in sales growth.

TreeHouse had operational problems during the pandemic. It couldn’t ramp up production as easily as large brand manufacturers, and cutting back marginal SKUs wasn’t a viable option. TreeHouse CEO Steve Oakland gave the Wall Street Journal an example of frozen waffles with chocolate chips. TreeHouse temporarily stopped making them to concentrate on mainstream plain ones; Kellogg kept making Eggos with chocolate chips, racking up sales at TreeHouse’s expense.

TreeHouse has also announced that its chief operations officer, Shay Braun, will leave the company April 30 to become president of Select Milk, a dairy cooperative.

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