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PLMA Show approaches near record retail registration

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NEW YORK — Thousands of smiling faces will be assembling in a few days at PLMA’s sold-out 2022 Private Label Trade Show, November 13-15, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. The Show is themed, “Consumers Are Back In Charge,” a nod to the evolving attitudes and demands of post-pandemic shoppers.

The U.S. store brand business has much to be pleased about these days. Sales are up, retailers are doubling down on the products to help customers cope with inflation, innovation is turbocharged to meet consumer expectations, and there’s a surge in store brand non-foods, particularly in health and beauty, household products and nascent categories like hemp-derived CBD.

But most of all, the industry will be celebrating its first in-person trade show in three years.

“After all that time apart, we’re pleased that our industry reunion in Chicago will draw large crowds from across the board,” says Peggy Davies, PLMA president. “We declared the event sold-out for exhibitors about a month ago, the earliest call ever, and the number of individual retailers who’ve registered has already exceeded the 2019 figure and is close to a record.”

“Visitors will discover high-quality, food and non-food store brand products from some 1,400 outstanding suppliers in 2,300 booths. And it’s a global affair. More than 50 countries are represented on the floor, including more than 500 booths in national pavilions from Europe, Latin America and Asia,” offers Anthony Aloia, PLMA’s corporate VP. “Overall, we’re expecting attendance to top 5,000.”

The South Hall is devoted to health and beauty, household goods, kitchenware, and general merchandise; food, snacks, beverages, refrigerated and frozen are located in the North, South and Sky Halls. Innovation is featured up and down every aisle and viewable in PLMA’s popular Idea Supermarket TM, New Product Expo and Salute to Excellence displays. There are also showcases for Wine and Spirits, Hemp-derived CBD products and Plant-based meat and entrees.

As a result of the strong exhibitor participation, retail executives are eager to walk the floor. John Evans, Director of Private Brands, HBC, GM and Non-Foods, Weis Markets, says, “The PLMA show is our innovation pipeline and we’ve found many new items and vendors there. It is great to be back in person as our private brands are in a great position to grow share and the resources we find in Chicago help us meet consumers’ needs of the future.”

Christine Heffernan, SVP, Sourcing & Supply Chain, Topco Associates, adds, “We look forward to meeting with companies we already partner with, especially those we haven’t seen outside of a Zoom call. Quality is a key element for a successful program. If I find something I like, I ensure my team stops at the booth to inquire about that company’s capabilities.”

Prior to the Show, PLMA’s Executive Education program will be conducted at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, November 12-13. Designed with Saint Joseph’s University’s, the curriculum provides an understanding of what’s required to bring store brands to market in a post-pandemic environment, including product innovation, sales and marketing skills, and effective retailing operations and merchandising practices.

The Sunday program kicks off with presentations by MaryEllen Lynch, Principal, Center Store Solutions, IRI; Ken Harris, Cadent Consulting Group; Jon Hauptman, President, Price Dimensions LLC, and Gary Stibel, Founder/CEO, New England Consulting Group.

Concluding the afternoon will be a panel, “Hemp is More Than CBD,” moderated by Joe Linne, VP, Hemp Brand Builders, and including Lynn Sarsgard,Senior Business Development Director, Hemp Brand Builders; Evan Ogburn, Founder/Co-Owner PHARM CBD; Rachel Berry, Founder/CEO, Illinois Hemp Growers Association and Adrienne Snow, CEO/Co-owner, Western States Hemp.

On Monday, Arjun Chakravarti, Managing Partner of Cogknition Analytics, a leading strategy and analytics consultancy, will deliver the breakfast keynote, 8 AM at the Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom. His topic is “Economic Growth in 2023: Will It Impact Your Business Strategy?”On Tuesday, a Retail Trends panel, also 8 AM at the Hyatt, will discuss “How has the upheaval of the Covid era impacted store brands and shoppers?” Moderating will be Michael Sansolo, President, Sansolo Solutions, a speaker, author and blogger with a unique view of trends impacting shoppers, employees, competition and management.

Panelists include David Bishop, Partner, Brick Meets Click; Laurie Demeritt, CEO, The Hartman Group; Caroline Davidson, Director, Agency and Channel Partnerships, SPINS; and Anthony Schelich, Partner, Marketing Concepts Group.

PLMA is gratified but not surprised by the early sell-out of exhibition space and near-record turnout by visitors. “Retailers know that in these difficult times more and more consumers are turning to store brand food and non-food products,” explains Davies. “And the best single place to source those products is our Chicago show.”


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