2024 Private Label Report Shows a Curious Tale of Twos

March 4, 2024
Store brands’ $236.3 billion in annual dollar sales set a record — but growth was front-loaded in the first half, with sales falling to near flat in the last six months.

The 2024 Private Label Report has been released by the Private Label Manufacturer’s Assn. (PLMA), and the news is a tale of twos: two different halves of the year, and two different outcomes for dollar and unit sales.

First, the good: Store brand sales across all food and non-food categories rose $10.1 billion to a record $263.3 billion in 2023 (this, actually, was $3 billion more than the association estimated at the PLMA Show, as reported by Dave Fusaro on our site in December 2023) — a 4.7% increase over 2022 dollar sales, which outpaced national brands (which grew 3.4%).

Unit sales for the year tell a different story, with store brands slipping some 79 million units (a mere 0.1% decline, but a dampening story compared to dollar sales). They fared better than national brands, for what it’s worth, which dropped 2.8% in unit sales in 2023 versus 2022.

Another oddity in the dollar sales story: Gains were predominantly driven by a blitz through the first six months of the calendar year, during which time store brands grew dollar sales 8.2% year-over-year. But the run fizzled out — and fast.

The final six months posted a 1.4% gain YOY, but data for September through the end of the year was basically flat. Maybe a slight silver lining for private label: The rise and fall of the dollar sales of national brands followed a similar pathway, potentially indicating market-wide forces at play, rather than a shifting in consumer preference for or against private label. But the “glass half empty” types would point to the fact that national brands outpaced store brands in each of the last six months, even if by the slightest of margins.

The 2024 Private Label Report analyzes store and national brand unit and dollar sales in key categories, based on sales figures from the PLMA/Circana Unify+ market data portal.

Overall, nine of the 10 total departments tracked showed at least some growth YOY in 2023, with food categories such as general food (+10.0%), beverages (+8.9%) and frozen (+4.4%) leading the way in dollar sales gains.

That said, on private label unit sales, only general food (+0.4%) gained YOY, while refrigerated (-0.3%), frozen (-1.1%) and beverages (-1.3%) saw slides in unit sales.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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