By: Doug Baker, Vice President, Industry Relations, FMI

Private brands products

Private brands leaders approached this year with a unique challenge.

They knew private brands in the food industry have gained considerable momentum in recent years — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the inflationary period that followed. These brands have quickened their pace of innovation to be on target for changing shopper needs. They have provided exceptional value — and I'm not just talking about price.

This brings me to the challenge. Leaders need to figure out how to follow up on this period of unprecedented success to keep the momentum going. I have the pleasure of facilitating the association's private brands community and can report that our Private Brands Leadership Council (PBLC) gave much thought to this issue, including at our in-person council summit held in late 2023.

The council ultimately identified five focus areas to help keep the private brands' momentum going. It assigned a dedicated subcommittee for each one. The five areas are strategic sourcing, education, technical regulatory compliance, ESG/sustainability, and insights and trends. The subcommittees — which we refer to as workstream groups — are comprised of retailers and suppliers and are now meeting and identifying the best approaches to advance efforts. Here's a brief run-down of the preliminary directions for each group.

Strategic Sourcing

A key pillar of growth is innovation, which comes from existing partnerships, but also identifying and establishing new partnerships across the global supply chain. The Strategic Sourcing Workstream will develop strategies to find and engage new suppliers. This includes standardizing industry terminology and practices unique to U.S. grocery — all to further success. The group will also work with the FMI Supply Chain Council and Asset Protection Council to foster supply chain security.

Education & Awareness

There's a big opportunity to boost workforce success by educating professionals about private brands, including prospective job candidates and current employees. The goal is to help with attracting, retaining and enhancing talent. The Education & Awareness Workstream helps tell the private brands industry's story for this purpose. Areas of focus will include working across industry associations, outreach to schools, mentoring, supporting career enhancement and empowering associates to be brand ambassadors for private brand products.

Technical Regulatory Compliance

Professionals engaged with compliance in private brands regularly encounter shifting regulatory developments that require industry feedback and engagement. The Technical and Regulatory Compliance Workstream helps develop industry positions and priorities, such as those impacting labels and packaging, in conjunction with FMI's Government Relations team. The goal is to minimize the number of instances a brand needs to change their packaging, all while ensuring that the consumer has the proper information to make an educated decision when purchasing a private brand product.


The private brands industry aims to drive sustainability progress but often faces hurdles. The Sustainability Workstream is committed to enhancing sustainability alignment between private brand retailers and suppliers to support efforts with packaging and products. The group will engage with FMI's sustainability community, help identify new sustainability technologies and keep the council up to date on relevant federal and state regulatory developments.

Insights and Trends

Private brand leaders need to tap into the most relevant consumer and industry insights to drive their strategies. The Insights and Trends Workstream works with FMI's Research and Insights Department and oversees FMI's private brand research efforts, which include the annual Power of Private Brands studies on consumer and industry trends. This group will also bring additional education opportunities to private brand leaders throughout the year, including as part of council meetings.

I'm super excited about the new workstream strategy. These efforts line up with FMI's focus on advocacy, education and collaboration. I am confident that the new approach will encourage even more food industry private brand leaders to engage with FMI and its council to further the industry's private brands' success.