Woman and child in a grocery store.

Key Themes from PLMA's Annual Private Label Trade Show

Baird's Global Food & Beverage team recently attended PLMA's Annual Private Label Trade Show in Chicago. The show featured a record 1,685 exhibitors and more than 13,000 attendees. Tens of thousands of products were featured in categories from center store food, snacks and beverages to fresh, frozen and refrigerated; and from beauty, personal care and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to household products, kitchenware and pet care.

There were a number of recurring themes that cropped up during the show as well as from Baird’s discussions with industry players and investors. Here are our key takeaways from the event:

The innovation lens in private label is widening

  • As consistent with other notable Food & Beverage trade shows in 2023, this year’s PLMA show was marked with high attendance, including a 20% increase in exhibitors and attendees.
    • 45% of the growth in exhibitors coming from non-Food & Beverage suppliers, including Beauty / Personal Care, Pet, Packaging and other services.
    • Global presence with 45% of the floor exhibitors represented by international companies and countries.
  • Also seeing an increase in representation across the value chain, including contract manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and supply chain service providers as the show has become a focal point for B2B participants across the CPG space.


Momentum for private label remains strong amidst the current macro environment

  • Store brands have continued to take volume and market share across all major departments and sub-categories, which has increased in 2023.
  • Over 40% of consumers say they purchased more private label food & beverage products in 2023 than in 2022, and nearly 90% comment that they entrust store brands as the same if not higher than national brands.
  • Expect to continue seeing innovation and the “premiumization” of private label offerings evolve as a new avenue of growth. Today, ~80% of PL offerings are considered “national-brand equivalents”, so the opportunity will come from more value-added, premium and innovative product introductions.


Retailers are in search of strategic partners

  • With labor challenges in the end-markets, retailers are looking more and more to their suppliers to bring value-added offerings that will reduce complexity and labor time at the store level.
  • We are seeing an increased focus on perimeter categories, such as refrigerated meals, protein and in-store bakery items.


Category trends are emerging in plant-based innovation, spicy flavor profiles and value-added offerings

  • Plant-based innovation is shifting to store brands: while the overall market growth across a number of plant-based categories has cooled in 2023, there has been a spike in new product introductions and sizeable share gains from private-label offerings across a number of categories (frozen and fresh entrees, beverages, snacking, etc.).
  • Ethnic and spicy flavor profiles: across the landscape of snacking and flavor enhancement (sauces, dressings, seasonings), new introductions continue to center around spice and new global cuisines, including Asian, Middle Eastern in addition to Latin America. Increased presence from international exhibitors at this year’s show highlights the interest in authentic international flavors and cuisines.
  • Value-added offerings: notable uptick in refrigerated and frozen entrees, appetizers and prepared foods.


Interested in learning more about these trends? Connect with Baird's Global Food & Beverage team.

Wendy Nicholson

Daniel O’Brien