Praise for Private Label

Grocery Headquarters recognizes the companies driving the growth of private label with the 2017 Private Label Trailblazer Awards.
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Store brands are heating up as consumers demand private label products that compete with, or surpass, the quality of national brands. In recent years, retailers have started relying more heavily on their private label programs, but the exceptional companies behind the labels are what really drive the success of these programs. 

Store brand products were once perceived as items that were meant for consumers looking to pinch pennies, but today’s shoppers are demanding private label programs that offer them savings on products that meet their high-quality standards. When mom picks up a bottle of store brand cough syrup for her ailing child, she expects to save a few dollars on a product that will hold up to the popular brand name version. If she brings that product home and notices her child is coughing again an hour later, more than likely that will be the last time she buys that store brand cough syrup. 

The quality of products in a private label program also has a significant impact on a retailer’s reputation. Those that promise consumers only the best products will avoid getting left behind in the dust as the private label industry evolves. 

“I believe quality will become more important than price as the message of a poor quality product with the store’s name on it raises the question, ‘what else inside the store is lower quality?’” says Tim Stapleton, president of U.S. and international sales for Big Time Products. “Great quality equals satisfaction and expansion of the consumer relationship.” 

Consumer trends are just as important in developing private label as they are for national brands, and many modern private label companies are even striving to innovate ahead of the well-known national brands. Steve Corsun, president of Premier Brands of America, says their strategy is no longer to follow in the footsteps of national brands, but rather to find its own voice on retail shelves. 

“Premier is very aware of market trends, what the national brands are doing and how the overall categories are performing,” Corsun says. “Premier has moved away from the ‘fast-follower’ strategy of staying behind the national brand’s every move and now employs its own research based product innovation to enhance the company’s offerings.”

Offering store brand products that are unique, or more difficult to find, could keep consumers coming back for more, and might even draw in some new shoppers as consumers recommend these products (and where to find them) to family, friends and colleagues. This strategy is particularly important as Millennials continue to enter the grocery-shopping scene. A recent study by New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association found Millennials are more loyal to their stores of choice than their parents were, and nine out of 10 do their daily grocery shopping in only one or two stores. Millennials are also well informed about where specific brands (including store brands) and foods come from, and are not shy about picking up an item and studying its label.  Millennials’ awareness of store brands and national brands is almost equal, at 84 percent and 86 percent, respectively.

“Store brands remain the retailer’s most potent weapon in developing strategies for this age group,” says Brian Sharoff, president of PLMA, in response to the study. “It offers flexibility and opportunities to be creative with product assortment and concept without waiting for national brands. But it requires an understanding of what this age group likes and will buy.” 

One of the most important qualities that many modern consumers, Millennial and other generations alike, look for in their products is better-for-you labels, such as “natural” and “organic,” industry observers say, and private label is no exception. This demand has been reflected in the changes a number of retailers have made in their private label programs over the past year. For example, Tops Friendly Markets created new store brand packaging that highlights qualities such as cleaner ingredients, and H-E-B recently launched its Select Ingredients line, which eliminates more than 200 synthetic ingredients. 

“The trend toward naturally derived products continues to grow, in fact 64 percent of consumers claimed that natural ingredients is a top driver in their purchase decision,” says Greg Fries, vice president of marketing for Guy & O’Neill.

Renee Hicks, director of private brands for the Fremont Co. agrees, saying retailers can profit from focusing on the better-for-you attributes consumers are looking for when designing their private label programs. 

“Key growth will come from the retailers that are promoting and highlighting organic products in their stores with support from companies like ourselves and other manufacturers of private brands,” Hicks says. 

The growing success of store brands is also reflected in the numbers; in 2016 sales surpassed $118 billion annually, according to latest industry data, and the PLMA show turned out an all-time record total of 2,820 exhibit booths from 1,409 companies. According to PLMA’s 2016 Private Label Yearbook, annual sales in private label were up five percent, or $5.4 billion.

The future of private label programs looks bright as the industry continues to successfully evolve to meet consumers’ wants and needs. In this year’s Private Label Trailblazer Awards, Grocery Headquarters honors the industry leaders driving the store brand boom.


For flavor and fragrance creator Arylessence, the focus is on helping store brands take control of the fragrance and flavor ingredients in their products. 

 “Collaborating with retail product development teams and marketers, we create winning fragrances and distinctive flavors that create a point of difference, attract the interest of consumers, encourage repeat purchase and establish product loyalty in a highly competitive environment,” says Lori Miller Burns, director of marketing relations and communications for the Marietta, Ga.-based company.

 Arylessence works in close partnership with leading grocers, retailers, and their product development teams to assist with selecting winning fragrances and flavors that will keep their store brands competitive. The company helps retailers position their brands to outperform national brands, through what Arylessence officials say are the key emotional consumer connections—fragrance and flavor.

 “It is the scents and tastes that capture the emotional power of the product, proactively enhance the product’s performance and exceed the consumer’s expectations. This is what our perfumers and flavorists help retailers achieve,” adds Miller Burns.

Bektrom Foods

Bektrom Foods is a GFSI certified dry grocery manufacturer that offers more than 400 SKUs. The Monroe, Mich.-based company is known for making its own pasta, as well as a variety of baking mixes and spices. Additionally, Bektrom Foods produces pancake mixes, grits and oats, pasta entrées, deluxe sides, spice shakers and grinders, salt and pepper, skillet dinners, rice and pasta sides, and stuffing. Bektrom also has its own line of products under the Loretta & Cayleys Kitchen brand name.

Bektrom Foods offers its retailers a variety of options for producing their private labels products, including: pouched, bag-in-box, canisters, glass bottles, plastic bottles and foil side pouches. The recipe files for Bektrom are extensive, and offer a number of tiers for the type of end-product the retailers are looking for, whether it be price-driven or premium level quality.

“The R&D team at Bektrom is always ready to work with our customers to offer innovation for any category they are looking to introduce into their stores,” says Tom Barbella, president. 

With the recent addition of high-speed manufacturing lines in its 400,000 square-feet of warehouse and manufacturing facilities, Bektrom is able to offer even more capacity to its retailers. 

​Berner Food and Beverage

Berner Food and Beverage is a leading private label supplier of quality food and beverage products to a majority of the top retail chains across all trade channels. The Dakota, Ill.-based company provides a single source of supply for both store brand products and contract manufacturing.

For more than 72 years, the family-owned and operated company has built a reputation for excellence in crafting premium products. Their corporate-wide commitment to the private label industry has earned them the recognition of being a leading producer of private label aerosol cheese, jar cheese, retort salsa con queso and shelf stable dips, retort Alfredo sauces, retort iced latte and coffee energy beverages. Berner facilities are USDA approved, SQF2000 Level 3, HACCP certified, and meet the demanding standards of virtually every major retailer in North America.

“From start to finish, Berner knows how to turn your idea into a successful finished product,” says Todd A. Mullane, vice president, private label. “With our vast experience in the development and management of shelf stable products, we help build your successful brand. How do we do it? With our research and development, quality assurance, production, packaging, and sales and marketing teams, each completely dedicated to serve your needs.”

 Big Time Products

Big Time Products is a leading supplier of hand protection to retailers. The company’s lineup includes seasonal/garden gloves, hardware work gloves, automotive gloves, household/heavy duty cleaning gloves, painting gloves and more. The Rome, Ga.-based company also offers a full range of umbrellas. 

“Big Time Products utilizes the best features and benefits of the product line, adds in excellent customer service, dynamic packaging and promotional planning to develop a winning strategies for store brand programs,” Stapleton says. 

Cascades Tissue Group

With its 21 manufacturing and conversion plants in North America, Cascades Tissue Group, based in Eau Claire Wis., is able to produce, convert and market a full range of retail tissue products, such as paper towels, bathroom tissue, napkins and facial tissue. Whether demand is for 100 percent recycled fibers, virgin conventional paper or TAD quality, its private label products are developed to meet the expectations and needs of its retailers, says Mylène Boucher, marketing director, consumer products, North America.

“With its management philosophy, half a century of experience in recycling and continuous effort in research and development as driving forces,” Boucher says, “Cascades continues to deliver the innovative products consumers are seeking. Our company is dedicated to innovation, as it is at the heart of our actions. We aim at providing an enhanced consumer experience through superior product performance and we have a dedicated team for whom innovation is the main focus in the organization.” 

Cascades is also known for its strong environmental practices. It offers a complete range of products that are made from recycled fibers and certified by third parties including: UL/EcoLogo and FSC. In addition to being compostable and biodegradable, environmentally friendly Cascades products are made with less water than the industry average. 

“Cascades is constantly working hand-in-hand with its retailers to develop their multi-tier private label program by offering a full range of retail tissue products in all grades,” Boucher says. “Along the process, we like to partner with the retailers to uncover consumers untapped needs and develop innovative products that can compete with national brands. We analyze sales results, market trends and the retail environment before we suggest any new product. This enables us to ensure that our offering coincides with the shoppers’ needs and habits. We adapt our product selection to match the needs of our retailers’ space and capabilities.”

​Catania Oils Corp.

Catania Oils Corp. is a family-owned business that has been around for more than 100 years—passed down through four generations. Its mission is to provide innovative quality products to customers in an efficient, economic and environmentally responsible manner. 

The Ayer, Mass.-based company offers a full line of oils in an assortment of sizes, as well as a variety of packaging materials, ranging from portion control packets to 48,000-pound tank wagons. Catania is SQF Certified, and a member of the North American Olive Oil Association, the Non-GMO project and American Fats and Oils Association. 

“When putting your name on a Catania product you can be assured of getting the quality and value needed to build a strong brand,” says Mark Coleman, senior vice president of retail sales. “Catania Oils has always been innovative with new ideas to help change customer comprehension and understand the oil market. Staying ahead of trends and keeping our customers informed helps ensure our continued success year after year.”

In 2016, the company implemented National Brand Equivalent PET olive oil bottles in an assortment of sizes. The bottles are easy to grip, made of recyclable PET plastic and are easy open with twist-off safety seal caps. The bottles are now available in 250-milliliter, 500-milliliter, 750-milliliter and 1-liter sizes.

“We recognize that consumers will routinely choose a private label product if the packaging looks similar to the leading national brand. Our new retail olive oil bottles were created to offer consumers that choice,” Coleman says.

Chase Products Co.

Chase Products Co. manufactures, or has formulas available for more than 1,200 products, including national brand-equivalent consumer aerosol products, such as disinfectants, furniture polish, bathroom cleaner, air fresheners, oven cleaner, carpet cleaner, spray starch, all-purpose cleaner, insecticides, insect repellant, shave creams, hair spray and sunless tanning spray. Chase Products’ latest innovation is a consumer value line of products such as disinfectant, furniture polish, starch and household cleaners under the CHASE’S HOME VALUE brand. The Broadview, Ill.-based company is also known for producing a full line of CHAMPION SPRAYON Professional Institutional & Industrial cleaners, insecticides, air care and maintenance products. Its paint and coatings offerings include all-purpose enamels and inverted field and marking paints. Chase’s seasonal products include its SANTASnow (national brand spray snow) along with several other holiday decorating and craft products. All of Chase’s products are manufactured in the U.S.

 “Chase has been a private label manufacturer of NBE aerosols for more than 50 years,” says Judy Albazi, president and CEO, “and we are able to offer these formulas for store brand marketers. Our excellent record with independent comparison evaluations and facility inspection audits efficiently and expeditiously supports retailer requirements. Chase’s creative art and production graphics staff enhances and facilitates store brand packaging for existing or newly-created products.”

Clearwater Paper Corp.

With a heritage dating back to the mid 1960s, Clearwater Paper Corp. has pioneered product offerings that have supported increased private brand penetration with customers in key markets across the U.S. The Spokane, Wash.-based company’s portfolio includes innovative offerings such as the launch of leading national brand comparable quality products in the mid-1990s, Through-Air-Dried (TAD) paper towels in 2004 and TAD bath tissue in 2013.

Clearwater is a dedicated supplier of private brand tissue with a footprint of production facilities across the U.S., providing products for all quality tiers of bath and facial tissue, paper towels and napkins. Understanding the importance of environmental sustainability, Clearwater began offering FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) tissue products in 2010. 

“With fiber certification, consumers are assured that their store brand tissue products are made with fiber sourced from well-managed forests,” says Bruce Woodlief, director of product managment and marketing. “Today, Clearwater Paper continues to offer a wide range of sustainable products including those with recycled fiber content. As a strategic partner with customers, Clearwater Paper is committed to sales and marketing support, customer service and product quality that is second to none in private brand tissue.”

Distant Lands Coffee   

Distant Lands Coffee’s legacy began with coffee farmers back in 1968. The company planted its first coffee tree in Costa Rica with a singular visionto conscientiously produce superior quality coffee in a manner that enriches the land and the quality of life for workers on its farms, company officials say. 

Today, the Renton, Wash.-based company’s coffees are recognized by experts to be among the best in the world. Its business has evolved and grown over the years from a single coffee farming and milling operation into a one-of-a-kind vertically integrated specialty coffee business. Distant Lands operates a continuously linked global supply chain that includes owned and partner coffee farms and mills, green coffee sourcing, roasting, packaging and distribution of premium Arabica coffees.

“We remain committed to our legacy of earth-friendly coffee growing and milling and the creation of sustainable livelihoods and thriving communities,” says Russ Kramer, executive vice president and CMO. “We maintain close visibility and quality control throughout all steps of the supply chain, which enables Distant Lands to deliver superior quality and consistency with each and every lot of coffee.

The Fremont Co.

The Fremont Co. has been manufacturing quality ketchup for more than 90 years. Its specialized ketchup manufacturing plant, operation and staff strive to manufacture the most consistent and highest quality private brand ketchup with the utmost level of customer service, company officials say. Fremont ketchup is made with 100 percent California-grown tomato varieties specifically grown to make ketchup, just like the leading brand, and offer “better-for-you” and/or specialty ketchup formulations to meet consumers’ lifestyle choices.

“When our partners seek superior ketchup quality and point of differentiation for their private brand, they know that we are the ketchup experts,” says Hicks. “Our innovation, flexibility and customer focus has made Fremont the category leader for organic and natural ketchup. Fremont partners are able to provide to their customers without sacrificing real ketchup taste. Consumers develop a store brand loyalty on the quality, price and flavor that we provide, all the while giving the retailers the superior customer service they need to be successful.”

Fremont ketchup is packed in Open Front Display Ready Cases every day to generate incremental in-store sales and labor savings during any sale or promotion. The Fremont, Ohio-based company’s forward warehouse network creates significant retailer logistical convenience and savings for customers to pick up regionally what they need, when they need it. 

Furlani’s Food Corp.

In offering consumers gourmet-nostalgic products like cheddar biscuits, cornbread and garlic knots, Furlani’s Food Corp. provides products that feature real ingredients, like butter and cheese. These products are approachable, comforting and always a value, say officials with the Mississauga, Ont., Canada-based company. Officials add that the company caters to trends, not fads, and continues to produce a complete range of core items such as garlic toast, breadsticks and garlic loaves. Furlani’s focuses on subtle quality improvements and manufacturing efficiencies in order provide multi-dimensional value.

“Product innovation and value is what sets us apart,” says a company official. “Consumer dollars are stretched, while at the same time, their appetites are evolving. We have found a means to balance this through product innovation. What makes us a great partner is our ability to offer a wide assortment of fresh product ideas and incredible value propositions that bring excitement and growth to retailers’ categories. This is reflected in our prodigious customer retention.”

Furlani’s R&D department offers its partners the ability to explore new avenues in baking innovation. It also offers an archive of fully developed exploratory products that can be customized and/or commercialized upon request.

The expansion to a state-of-the-art, vertically integrated 250,000 square foot manufacturing facility has allowed Furlani’s to run all of its products in one space for optimal efficency, consistency and logistical synergies. This manufacturing focus enables it to be the industry’s lowest-cost producer that offers high-quality products. Furlani’s provides assistance in assortment, promotions and branding. It also provides display-ready packaging solutions and can help retailers develop new packaging designs. 

Gaea North America

Gaea is a vertically integrated company, which means it is able to cut out the middleman, producing all of its offerings in-house, lowering costs and ensuring the highest level of quality to its retailers.

The Hollywood, Fla.-based company is able to ship direct from its plant in Greece or combine orders from its New Jersey warehouse, allowing it to build custom pricing. Gaea maintains the most credible food-safety, sustainable and good working condition certifications desired by top retailers.  

“Gaea North America is an excellent retail partner for a number of reasons,” says CEO David Neuman. “Not only do we understand co-packing, but we understand branding. We only produce quality products for both our brand and those we produce private label for.” 

Neuman says traceable, efficacious olive oil is trending, and will continue to trend into the distant future, adding that Millennials and Generation Zers find truth in labeling to be vastly important and want to know where their food comes from. 

“With additional media attention emphasizing focus on the olive oil industry, consumers are becoming smarter about the olive oil they buy and consume in the home,” Neuman says. “It is also quite trendy to be sustainable and climate neutral, minimizing the impact to our planet. The Mediterranean diet still reigns supreme by scientifically supported claims—heart healthy foods with a purpose, if you will. The days of jarred, heat-processed olives are ending with the introduction of nitrogen-flushed, shelf-stable, liquid-free pouches.”

Gehl Foods 

Since opening in 1896, Germantown, Wis.-based Gehl Foods has grown to be among the nation’s most advanced low-acid aseptic dairy processors.  

“Gehl Foods creates dairy products that safely feed our future—that is something we do not take lightly,” says Cathie Petak, director of marketing. 

Gehl’s advanced aseptic manufacturing process produces some of the freshest tasting, shelf-stable, ready-to-serve products available. The Gehl Foods product portfolio includes ready-to-drink nutritional shakes, shelf stable milks and creamers and a wide variety of cheese sauces.   

“We are ready to differentiate our customers’ brand with our experience,” Petak says “We know how to bring our customers’ product vision to life. We are the right partner because we deliver on our commitment to provide: proactive innovative leadership; market driven solutions; and added value through dedication to our customers’ success. Gehl Foods is dedicated to providing delicious, nutritious and convenient foods for the whole family.  Whether you are cheering at the big leagues, or in the convenience of your home, we are by your side.”  

Global Tissue Group 

Global Tissue Group (GTG) has fostered a reputation for providing value for its retailers as their private label paper manufacturer for bath tissue, facial tissue, napkins and paper towels.

“With excellence in customer service, our customers depend on our flexibility, confidentiality and quality, from paper products to services custom-tailored for private label programs,” company officials say. “Through excellence in product delivery to innovative manufacturing processes we have become a leading converter of household paper products.”

The Medford, N.Y.-based company is one of the few in the industry to provide three levels of paper quality: standard, premium and ultra-premium. It is committed to providing the highest standards and quality in everything it does.  

“In creating diversified household paper products that cater to every market category, retailers can feel confident putting their store brand private label on our goods,” officials say. “We bring the trust and comfort of our relationship to your consumers, who will grow to depend upon our standard of manufacturing excellence through our private label programs, contract manufacturing, or our control brands.”

Guy & O’Neill 

Guy & O’Neill is a leading manufacturer of wet wipes in categories across the aisles. It specializes in disinfecting wipes, facial wipes, hand sanitizing and anti-bacterial wipes and bath wipes. The Fredonia, Wis.-based company also offers FDA regulated products including personal lubricants. The company focuses on making an effort to source as many of its components domestically as possible.

In 2017, Guy & O’Neill launched its Evoke brand of personal lubricants. The lubricant scored a 10 of 10 in National Brand Equivalent Testing compared to both KY and Astroglide, say company officials.

“At Guy & O’Neill, our innovation process is consumer insight driven with a focus on delivering products that are either national brand equivalent or national brand better,” Fries says. “We boast world-class manufacturing efficiencies, which enables us to deliver competitive prices. Finally, our quality is second to none.”

All of Guy & O’Neill’s facilities are EPA and FDA registered for both OTC pharmaceuticals and medical devices. 

Ice River Springs

Ice River Springs is a leading innovator in environmental sustainability while providing consumers with better-for-you products. The Shelburne, Ont., Canada-based company packages spring water, purified water and distilled water in bottle sizes ranging from 250-mililiters to 15-liters in a variety of single units and multipacks, from six to 40.

Ice River Springs operates a closed-loop system; which means it has in-house plastic recycling facilities and complete vertical integration from water source to bottle and cap manufacturing, producing 100 percent recycled PET bottles. Ice River Springs also has an in-house plastics recycling facility that takes in baled, post-consumer plastic from municipality recycling centers, purifying and transforming the PET plastic into brand new bottles. 

“Our closed-loop recycling plant is the major point of differentiation for the company,” says co-owner Sandy Gott. “It makes us the only North American bottler capable of producing 100 percent recycled content bottles in a closed-loop system. We have implemented processes to minimize our carbon footprint: to avoid trips with empty trucks, recycled materials are brought to the recycling facility on the same trucks that have just delivered shipments of water to urban areas.”

Since Ice River strives for zero plastic going to landfills, it launched Ice River Green bottled water. Gott stresses that the company does not add coloring or dye to the bottles to make them look environmental, but rather they are green because they are recycled from colored bottles.

JTM Foods

JJ’s Bakery, a brand of JTM Foods, produces a full line of fresh, 4-ounce pies and other sweet treats at its 80,000-square-foot, nut-free, kosher parve facility in Erie, Pa.

The company recently added new platforms, which has helped move the pie category forward, including a full line of flavorful 2-ounce pies and a line of on-trend, 100 calorie 1-ounce Mini Pie Bites. 

“What sets JJ’s Bakery apart from the competition is dedication to innovation. From the ‘Pie in a Box’ concept for increased merchandising efficiency, eye-catching graphics on packaging for increased visibility and shippers to conveniently carry a wide variety of everyday flavors, their hand-held snack pies help grow sales and add value to customers,” says Chris Tirone, director of marketing.

JJ’s pies are made fresh daily with real fruit, can be shipped frozen or fresh, and the company is dedicated to removing all artificial flavors and colors from its pies in 2017.

Everyday flavors include: apple, cherry, blackberry, peach, lemon, chocolate, banana cream, strawberry cream and Boston cream. For 2017, JJ’s Bakery is introducing eight limited-edition flavors throughout the year to drive interest to the pie category and keep customers buying time and time again. The flavors are driven by consumer want and provide flavors the market does not have, company officials say.

These flavors include: caramel frappe, chocolate mocha, birthday cake, coconut cream, blueberry, raspberry and caramel apple.

​Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA

Massimo Zanetti Beverage (MZB), with a four-generation legacy of field-to-cup creation of some of the world’s finest coffees, helps its retailers make the coffee aisle a destination experience for true coffee lovers. 

Today’s consumers are consciously seeking out products made with sustainability in mind, says Clay Dockery, vice president of corporate brands, and Massimo is leading the industry with certified 100 percent commercially compostable single-serve coffee pods. 

“In order to drive and maintain loyalty, retailers must offer what is trending and meets consumer demand,” Dockery says. “Massimo Zanetti Beverage allows retailers to deliver today what will soon be the industry norm.”

MZB’s PURPOD100 is made from more than 90 percent renewable resources, including bioplastics and the coffee itself. The ring of the pod is made partially from coffee chaff—the skin of the coffee bean that comes off during the roasting process. The pods are certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) to completely break down in commercial composting facilities, returning valuable nutrients to the soil.

“PURPOD100 offers consumers the great taste and convenience of store brand single-serve coffee—without worrying about the environmental impact,” Dockery says. “We partner with our customers to build comprehensive coffee portfolios that include single-serve premium and soluble coffees, in the packaging format their shoppers are looking for.”

Masters Gallery Foods

Since its founding in 1974, Masters Gallery Foods has grown to service many of the nation’s grocery chains, wholesalers, restaurants, and distributors with a full line of private brand cheese and cheese-related products. 

Based in Plymouth, Wis., Masters Gallery Foods promotes a culture that encourages sustainability, creativity and customer satisfaction.

“Our food safety, customer service and product quality successes are the result of the tremendous commitments and efforts made by our team of associates,” says president and CEO, Jeff Gentine. “Our customers, employees and culture are the cornerstone of our success.” 

Masters Gallery utilizes consumer trends, its in-house creative team and dedicated R&D personnel to quickly get products to market. 

“The growth and success of the private brand cheese segment is dependent upon our ability to exceed our customer’s expectations with regard to quality, service and innovation,” says Gentine.

Mizkan America 

Mizkan America is a subsidiary of the Mizkan Group, a global, family-owned company. As makers of vinegar since 1804, the Prospect, Ill.-based company boasts two centuries of vinegar expertise. 

Today, Mizkan is now the principal packer of jalapeño peppers and green chiles in the U.S. The company’s vinegar and pepper offerings include: white distilled vinegars, standard and organic apple cider vinegars, wine vinegars, rice vinegars, balsamic vinegars, jalapeños, green chiles and tomatillos, as well as cooking wines. Mizkan has a unique management style handed down over eight generations of family ownership. This approach is expressed in its two principles: “always offer customers the finest products and continually challenge the status quo.”

“In everything we do, the customer comes first and we’re always looking at challenges and opportunities with fresh eyes,” says Mike Smith, executive vice president, sales. “Our unrelenting pursuit of quality means that all the delicious foods we make are at parity with or exceed the national-brand equivalent for all of our manufacturing categories—and this commitment is carried through to our retail partners.”

Mizkan also has an unwavering dedication to customer service. Perfect order completion rates are the first priority for all Mizkan production facilities and distribution warehouses. 

“We work hard to maximize consumer value while creating the highest possible returns for the retailer with a limited amount of shelf space,” says Smith. “The Mizkan team recognizes that private label items are the sales leaders in the vinegar category, and our dedication to innovation makes Mizkan a ‘go-to’ customer resource.” 

Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee

Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, which has been family-owned for more than a century, focuses on more than just producing great-tasting beverages; it is also committed to sustainability initiatives that start in the countries of origin, where coffee beans and tea leaves are sourced, and continues through to its vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution systems.

One of the Canadian-based company’s (with U.S. headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas) initiatives is the Water Wise Coffee program, a partnership that works to improve the lives, ecology and economies of coffee-growing communities by addressing water-related issues.

“The Water Wise Coffee program is focused on installing vetiver grass wetlands at 220 wet mills in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia by 2020,” says Jerry Gilbert, vice president of sales, retail. “These vetiver grass wetlands naturally treat wastewater created in the coffee bean harvesting process and offer a safe, organic and sustainable solution that improves the quality of water for the local community.”

Mother Parkers also launched the innovative EcoCup capsule for single-serve coffee and tea brands that offers both great taste and less waste. The recyclable capsule generates less waste than conventional non-recyclable capsules because of the ease with which consumers can separate the plastic cup from the foil lid and the used filter and contents, directing each part to its designated recycling stream and diverting more waste from landfill.  The EcoCup brand of single-serve capsules also delivers superior taste with more aroma and mouth-feel, thanks to the patented FlavorMax filter that allows more essential elements of the coffee and tea to reach the cup.  

“There has been very strong interest from our retailer partners in both the Water Wise Coffee program and the EcoCup brand capsule; an environmentally sustainable solution along with a great-tasting product is unique in today’s market,” Gilbert says. “It’s something consumers are looking for and Mother Parkers is proud to be able to provide it.” 

Premier Brands of America

Premier Brands of America is a world-class manufacturer and packager with state-of-the-art facilities. The company is dedicated to ongoing investment in innovation to reach its goals of continuously providing high-quality store brand and branded products that meet the evolving consumer desire for health and wellness. From concept and formula, to packaging design and manufacturing, Premier Brands of America offers full service, comprehensive turn-key solutions to its retailers. The Mt. Vernon, N.Y.-based company’s customers include the largest food, drug and mass retail chains across the U.S. and Canada. The company provides full-scale design services and manufacturing of private label and branded goods, while maintaining quality innovation and value.

“We offer a full suite of product development and marketing services for your unique brand,” Corsun says. “Upholding the high standard of the store brand is our paramount responsibility from start to finish. From our creative services to third-party testing to fulfillment, we ensure customer satisfaction by providing excellent products at a competitive price.”

The company offers more than 150 items that can be custom produced for the store brand. That includes a wide variety of insoles, including gel, odor control and memory foam insoles. The foot care lineup continues with cushions, padding, powders and removers. Other products include both liquid and non-liquid methods for the safe removal of common warts, nail fungus, calluses, corns and bunions. In addition, the company manufactures items that protect feet from pain and pressure.

Premier Brands is also continuing to seek out new categories and expansion possibilities. The company launched a line of foot care products licensed under the Arm & Hammer brand this past spring. The company also addresses the first aid category with such products as sterile saline wound wash, medicated first aid spray, burn relief spray with aloe and liquid bandages.

Red Gold 

Red Gold is a producer of private brand tomato products and has been in business since 1942. 

Red Gold offers many different traditional and organic tomato products that can ship on one truck including: canned tomatoes, tomato sauce/paste, ketchup, pasta sauce, salsa, vegetable juice, seafood/chili sauce, taco sauce, pizza sauce, sloppy Joe sauce and enchilada sauce.

“Today’s health conscious consumers are not only looking for non-GMO and organic products, they desire nutritionally superior products without sacrificing taste,” says Dewey Angell, associate director, product marketing. “Red Gold continues to find opportunities to improve the nutritional value of our current and new products under development.”

Some of these improvements include formulating products with only the sodium level needed to taste good and not adding unneeded sugars and Red Gold’s new line of Organic Pasta Sauce, Salsa and Better Balanced Ketchup.

The Elwood, Ind.-based company’s manufacturing capabilities include SQF Level 3 Certification, OU Kosher status and a USDA Organic program. Red Gold offers products that are sustainably produced, made with non-GMO ingredients and packaged in BPA non-Intent can linings.

Request Foods 

Request Foods is a leading co-packer of frozen prepared entrées, side dishes and specialty items.

It has two world-class manufacturing facilities located in Holland, Mich. that are equipped with a wide range of state–of–the–art processing equipment, and its single-source capabilities begin in three modern test kitchens. 

“You can rely on our team of seasoned professionals to develop better ideas for new and exciting dishes, seasonal meals, innovative packaging profiles, as well as traditional comfort meals and mainstay entrées,” says Jeff Gehres, senior director of sales and product development for the Holland, Mich.-based company. “At Request Foods we carefully prepare each ingredient—simmering our just-made sauces with fresh ground beef and creating our own fresh pasta. We can complement your production, or we can serve as your dedicated processor, allowing you to reduce your capital investments in plants and equipment.”

Request Foods’ co-packing facilities are GFSI Certified under the BRC scheme. Better quality is one more assurance that Request Foods products are produced, processed, prepared and handled according to the highest safety standards. Its extensive production capabilities allow it to package its retailers’ products in a wide variety of ways, from single-serve containers, up to 6-pound pans, pouches and skillet meals.


SatisPie custom manufactures frozen, ready-to-bake and prebaked thaw-and-serve dessert pies under private label for retailers in the U.S. and Canada. 

“Our products are clean label and extremely high in fruit content,” says Michael Pinkowski, president of the Rochester, N.Y.-based company. “Our standard fruit content exceeds all of the national brands, utilizing inspected and certified ingredients.” 

SatisPie’s products do not contain artificial ingredients, gums, colors or fillers and utilize only pure cane sugar. The company’s low corporate overhead allows it to aggressively price products into its retailers’ distribution channels and maintain above national brand quality. SatisPie’s facility is BRC-certified and received an AA rating. 

Seneca Foods

Seneca Foods was founded in 1949 in New York and has grown to source products from more than 2,000 farms across the country. A provider of packaged fruits and vegetables, the company, now based in Marion, N.Y., has facilities located throughout the U.S. The recent acquisition of two domestic cherry companies has broadened the wide variety of fruit and vegetable offerings.

Seneca is a leader in innovation having recently launched prepped shelf-stable vegetables in both 4- and 7-ounce microwaveable plastic cups. The company’s lineup features a full assortment of vegetables lightly seasoned with sea salt. 

“The goal is to make it easier for consumers to find healthy, convenient food items in the center store,” company officials say. 

The company also introduced store brand pumpkin pie mix, to capitalize on the popularity of pumpkin in recent years. Organic vegetables are also a key focus for Seneca Foods—in response to the growing consumer interest and demand, according to company officials. 

​TreeHouse Foods

Rooted in tradition and built with a strategic vision, TreeHouse Foods provides private label food and beverage offerings to retail grocery customers across North America. In February 2016, the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company welcomed its latest addition to its TreeHouse lineup—TreeHouse Private Brands (formerly the ConAgra Private Brands business).

TreeHouse’s branches extend across multiple product categories providing custom solutions in its growing product portfolio including: baked goods, beverages and beverage enhancers, condiments, and healthy snacks and meals. Customers can expect comprehensive flavor profiles including natural, organic and preservative-free ingredients in many categories and packaging formats. 

“We believe that TreeHouse is ideally suited to address the challenges and seize the opportunities posed by long-term trends and strategic developments toward our retailers’ private brand products,” says Craig Treankler, senior vice president of marketing and strategy. “Our mission is to create superior value for our customers and their consumers through a combination of superb quality, service, innovation, category leadership, value-added support and execution.”

TreeHouse boasts a dedicated team and significant investment in the most comprehensive data sources available to its retailers. This level of analytic expertise allows the company to present the most relevant and impactful insights that lead to unparalleled solutions.

“TreeHouse Foods understands private brand shoppers; therefore, allowing us to be innovation leaders,” Treankler says. “We’ve segmented the market and analyzed their unique needs. This positions us to develop new products that fulfill unmet needs with differentiated product benefits. We also have a broad set of capabilities that allows us to activate against new product platforms that require different packaging or processing formats.”


Trilliant is a rapidly growing, vertically integrated, high-quality manufacturer in the coffee and powdered beverage categories. The Little Chute, Wis.-based company is known for its innovative solutions and its drive to deliver value, speed-to-market, and quality for its customers. 

“The coffee category continues to change rapidly,” says Pete Sawin, vice president of marketing. “Espresso-based beverages are driving overall category growth mostly due to different consumption habits of the Millennials—also referred to as the coffeehouse generation.” 

Trilliant’s latest Nespresso Brewers enable the creation of a latte or cappuccino at the touch of a button at home. The company’s new Café Turino Nespresso-compatible capsules can now deliver coffeehouse drinks at a fraction of the cost; it also provides a significant value when compared to other espresso capsules. Café Turino utilizes a unique patented capsule that ensures consistent high quality product delivery and is available in several profiles and sizes.

U.S. Alliance Paper 

Over the past 20 years, U.S. Alliance Paper has grown into one of the nation’s largest private label manufacturers of household paper products by consistently delivering on its founding principles: quality, flexibility and reliability.

“Through continual reinvestment in technology and state-of-the-art production lines, we are able to flexibly produce customized sizes, sheet counts and packaging across all quality tiers—from value to premium—and paper grades, including FSC certified, 100 percent recycled and TAD products,” says Steve Saraf, vice president of sales for the Edgewood, N.Y.-based company. “As such, we can meet or exceed the quality of national brands across the board. We can customize packaging and configuration to the precise product specifications of our customers. Our national distribution footprint allows us to deliver products exactly when our customers need them. Delivering ‘what, how and when’ with 100 percent reliability is what really sets us apart from our competition.”

U.S. Nonwovens CORP.

U.S. Nonwovens Corp. (USN) is a pharma-led producer of premium health, personal and cosmetic products. Managed as an OTC pharma producer, quality and control is the primary focal point of all 800 employees and six U.S. FDA and EPA compliant facilities. 

“In an age where suppliers are cutting back ingredients, manpower or infrastructure, USN stands out for its persistent investment to stay ahead of the pack from research, infrastructure, technology, service to social and green responsibilities,” say officials with the Brentwood, N.Y.-based company.  “Our ability to life cycle products and categories from trend spotting to ramp up to maturity tweaks, is unrivaled. We listen carefully to customer needs, and then incessantly strive to act and execute towards success. Our broad product line and Fortune 100 customers speak of our success.”    


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