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PRIVATE LABEL MADE IN ITALY: AN 8 BILLION EURO BUSINESS
Private label products continue to gain ground. In 2008 the turnover of 'private’ label products in Italy reached a 13% quota of the total value of sales in consumer products, with figures fluctuating between 7.5 and 8 billion Euros. The most interesting aspect is that some producers are beginning to make a significant share of their earnings abroad, thanks to commercial partnerships with important international brands. The forthcoming Plma international trade fair, which is scheduled in Amsterdam from 26 to 27 May 2009, is, therefore, an appointment not to be missed in order to appreciate the wealth of selection of Made in Italy “private label” products. In preparation for what is one of the key calendar events for operators in this sector, the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), has organised a joint participation, divided into ‘food’, ‘perishable food’ and ‘non-food’ sectors.
The 2009 edition of the Dutch show looks as if it will be even more crowded than the last one, which welcomed 1,693 exhibitors from 64 countries, who were organised into 27 national pavilions. This year Plma's World of Private Label should house around 3,000 stands and more than 30 national and regional pavilions. A very large number of product categories are represented: fresh, frozen and refrigerated foods, beverages and dry bakery goods as well as non-food categories, including cosmetics, health and beauty products, household and kitchen utensils, car maintenance, gardening and DIY equipment.
The difficult present situation, combined with greater care taken by families over their choice of consumer goods, has led to a real revolution in spending styles. Already in Italy more than 90% of consumers buy at least one retailer brand product over the course of a year.
Those benefitting from these changes are the Italian producers that make foods sold under the retailer’s brand name: from pasta to the most original frozen dishes, from cheeses to snacks and beverages, from ice cream to oil. But private label is not just synonymous with food, even if foodstuffs remain its core business. In recent years investments in market diversification have grown: and so pharmaceutical products have now appeared (in 2008 Coop brand aspirin was launched on the market), together with wellness, health and beauty products, and household utensils, and the Conad chain is even offering telephone services.
Private label products now account for around 10% of Italian large-scale retail trade volume. A supermarket, on average, offers around 840 products under its own label. This figure increases to more than 1,500 products with hypermarkets. And so, thanks to the growing demand for commercial brands from all the players in retail distribution, both cooperatives (such as Coop and Conad) and privately-owned chains (like Esselunga), not only the big food producing groups but also the medium and small companies can gain themselves a significant space in the supply of private label lines.
Some examples? Molino Fratelli Chiavazza hat has been producing soft wheat flour for fifty years and manufactures a wide range of milled grains and products for domestic use, has recorded a dramatic increase in supplies to large-scale retailers, which have doubled over the last ten years and now make up between 35 and 40% of earnings, which is about 35 million Euros.
But with the private labels there is also room for the smaller operators. A good example is Vis, a small-to-medium enterprise from Lombardy that produces jam and is moving forward with confidence in the possibility of opening new markets. And even if their current exports only account for 5% of earnings (a little more than 7 million Euros), the goal of the company is to arrive at a level of at least 20-30%.
If even small-to-medium enterprises are thinking on a large scale and looking further afield, it means that the real opportunities lie outside Italy, in countries such as those where the share of private brands counts for over a quarter of the total value of sales. This is the case in Spain (30.9%), the USA (30.5%) and France (26.1%), and we should not forget the show’s host, Holland, where ‘private’ brands have a market share of 26.4%.