The final statistics for the Private Label Manufacturers Association’s 2015 Private Label Trade Show confirm that 2015 was a record-breaking year for the annual event, held Nov. 15–17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.

Themed “Store Brands and Beyond,” the 36th edition of the trade show offered attendees the largest assemblage ever of store brands manufacturing expertise and capabilities, showcasing 2,774 exhibit booths and 1,339 companies from more 45 countries around the world.

Visitors to the 2015 PLMA show exceeded 4,700, a record participation that included buyers and executives from all major channels—food, drug, mass, club, limited assortment, convenience, dollar, specialty, online and military, as well as wholesalers, distributors, importers/exporters and brokers. Retailer and wholesaler registrations were up 2.5 percent from last year’s figures, and total registrations saw an increase of 4.2 percent, resulting in over-all show participation by more than 10,500. The total includes all exhibitor personnel, as well as nonexhibiting manufacturers and suppliers, licensing, product development, retail consultants and financial services.

Food and beverage exhibitors, including shelf stable, frozen and refrigerated foods, gourmet and specialty foods, organic and natural, fresh prepared foods and snack foods, accounted for more than 1,700 booths in 2015, with another 700 booths representing exhibitors across all nonfood categories. Additional numbers of both food and nonfood exhibitors were also among 15 national pavilions located throughout the show floor, plus PLMA’s own “World of Private Label” international pavilion.

By percentages, food and beverages were offered by 70 percent of exhibitors, with another 21 percent offering nonfoods and another 9 percent comprised of trade suppliers that serve the private label industry, including packaging, design, printing and labeling, ingredients and flavorings, marketing, research, software and logistics.

A series of industry speakers and workshops addressed ongoing societal changes, consumer trends, store brands marketing and major industry challenges. Delivering the keynote address was PayPal president and CEO Dan Schulman, who warned that digital commerce is inexorably leading to fundamental changes for the store brands industry as a whole and for how companies go to market. Retail futurist Howard Saunders, president of Twenty Second & Fifth, addressed attendees and pointed toward ever-increasing expectations among shoppers for transparency from purveyors of the products they buy and a bespoke customer experience.

The program also included a Sunday afternoon seminar on digital retailing strategies, moderated by Jim Wisner, Wisner Marketing Group. The panelists included Heidi Reale, Price Chopper Supermarkets; Brad Robertson, MYWebGrocer; and Colt Reichart, Red Gold.

PLMA launched a multiyear initiative in conjunction with the 2015 trade show, with the goal of increasing representation among store brands suppliers of products for the fast- growing grocery perimeter departments, particularly in fresh deli, dairy and bakery. Another seminar was dedicated to examining the trends driving store brands growth in these departments. The panel, moderated by Robert Vosburgh, news director of PLMA Live!, featured presentations by Paula Summers and Heath Osburn of Food Lion/Delhaize Group, and Lee Smith of Deli Business magazine.

Exhibits offered at the trade show included:

  • PLMA’s 2015 Salute to Excellence, a special showcase of products selected by a jury of professionals and consumers, and honored as winners of PLMA’s annual awards for store brands innovation.
  • PLMA’s New Product Expo, which spotlighted the newest products being featured by exhibitors on the show floor.
  • PLMA’s popular Idea Supermarket, which showcased new and interesting store brands programs, products and packaging from more than 50 leading retailers across North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America.
  • Store Brands USA, a special demonstration of PLMA’s new platform to bring online video information about store brands to American shoppers via YouTube, Facebook and a dedicated consumer website

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