Conference Beat™ – Private Label Manufacturers Association: Chicago, November 2016



Over 12,000 food business professionals attended the 36th annual Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) tradeshow. The 2016 tradeshow was one of the largest in its history and featured more than 1,300 exhibitors from 40 countries. PLMA is largely focused on retail products, however there continues to be a growing trend of restaurants and chefs interested in building a retail presence through packaging and distributing their products for foodservice.


Business Dynamics

Store brand total annual sales reached $118.4 billion, an all-time record; an increase of $2.2 billion over the previous year. Annual sales of store brands have increased 5%, totaling $5.4 billion in combined channels.


Consumer Insight

Consumers want to travel the world while in their own backyard. A recent Culinary Visions® Panel survey, What’s Trending in Foodservice showed that consumers love local but want to explore the world through cuisine. Ninety percent of consumers surveyed prefer to order locally sourced food, yet 89% of those surveyed said they enjoyed exploring new cultures through food.


Trend Spotting

Hot n’ Spicy Wasabi dusted edamame, chipotle roasted nuts, harissa chickpeas and sriracha potato chips are what consumers are craving.


Coconuts – Coconuts are everywhere, from infused coconut water to salted caramel coconut chips.


Grab n’ Go – Bento boxes for a protein pick-me-up filled with nuts & seeds, cheese and dried fruit are more popular than ever.


Condiments Reinvented – Move over ketchup; Gochujang, harissa, wasabi mayo and habanero mango mustard are ready for the spotlight.


Dairy Alternatives – As consumers begin to seek dairy alternatives, distributors answer the call with almond milk coffee creamer, coconut milk and cashew cheese.


Ancient Grains – From refrigerated salads to heat-and-serve options, ancient grains are making a statement.


Bread is Back – With more options than ever, bread is a pantry staple once again; including gluten-free, nut & seed varieties and traditional ciabatta, bread is back.


The Power of Packaging

Sneak-a-peak packaging allows consumers to see the product. Bold colors with sleek designs are enticing to consumers. Neutral tones and textures are utilized for better-for-you and organic products.


Implications for Food Marketers

Food Truck Innovation – Food trucks have continued to give rise to handheld, grab n’ go options.


Baby Boomers – As baby boomers age, product placement in ads and on grocery store shelves is a primary focus for marketers.


Clean Labels, Sustainable Ingredients – Consumers want better-for-you options that have been sustainably sourced with clean labels and natural ingredients.


Old Favorites, New Twist – Old favorites like white chocolate & raspberry, lemon blueberry and apple cinnamon are finding new homes in sweet and savory products such as white chocolate & raspberry Zuppa Inglese, lemon blueberry grits and spiced apple and cinnamon syrup.


Taste Talk Tweet

Twitter chatter included:

  • Food trucks lead to more handheld, on-the-go packaging
  • The slow food movement inspires artisanal cooking
  • Products with a healthy function gain popularity
  • Maple is the new sweetener in drinks
  • Mango is found in everything from drinks to desserts


Follow us on Twitter @Olsoncomm


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *