Last year was a roller coaster ride for store brands. Sales were up and down but finished strong, with increases averaging about 5% over the last five months, according to New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA). The just-released “PLMA’s 2022 Private Label Report” tells the whole story in detail.

Store brand dollar sales grew 1% to a record $199 billion in all U.S. retail channels in 2021, according to the report, which is based on data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI that was provided to PLMA.

Store brand sales picked up in 2022 right where they left off at the end of last year, growing 4.2% in dollar volume across all U.S. retailing channels in the month of January, compared to the same period in 2021. The increase was about equal to the 4.4% growth of the national brands, according to IRI data

Private brand dollar share last year was 17.7%, while unit share came in at 19.6%. Both represent increases over a three-year period, PLMA said.

In the eight largest departments covered by IRI, private label grew in six. In the largest category — refrigerated foods — store brands increased by 0.7%, followed by general merchandise (+1.7%), health care products (+0.2%), frozen (+0.8%), produce (+11.4%) and beverages (+2.7%), PLMA said.  

The figures reveal that the U.S. store brand market in 2021 was able to retain the unprecedented, COVID-19-fueled double-digit sales gains from 2020. Retail brands jumped 12% in dollar sales in 2020 amid the shutdown of foodservice, a greater emphasis on cooking at home and the boom in online grocery shopping. That exceeded national brands’ gain, which were up 10%, PLMA said.   

“The main takeaway is that retailer brands are a vibrant industry and an important piece of the U.S. grocery business, especially in difficult economic times,” said PLMA President Peggy Davies.   

More details can be found in “PLMA’s 2022 Private Label Report,” the association’s annual statistical guide for store brand sales. It’s available here.