As part of our dedicated Private Label Issue, ESM spoke to industry leaders at a number of retailers across Europe about the innovations that they are bringing to the table, and why they believe that private label can be a kingmaker in a changing retail landscape. This article first appeared in ESM May/June 2022.
Massimo Silvestrini, Head of Organic Development and Local Products, Carrefour Italy
Do you think that consumer preference for private labels increased during the pandemic?
During the pandemic, and particularly in the first few months – March to May 2020 – we saw strong growth in sales of private-label products linked both to the overall higher demand from customers and to the convenience and price positioning of our products.
Growth was very strong for all brands: Carrefour Cuore di Mercato, due to value for money, and Primi Prezzi/Simpl, due to convenience, as well as our premium brands, Terre d’Italia and Carrefour BIO, as customers were also looking for gourmet products to satisfy themselves during lockdown.
The retail sector has had to deal with significant food price inflation in recent months. How have you had to adapt your private-label range to accommodate these cost increases?
Already in the past year we have worked with 80 private-label suppliers with the aim of pursuing projects that allow us, on the one hand, to reduce costs and, on the other, to improve product performance. For example, we have developed an initiative dedicated to reducing plastic packaging, enabling us to achieve our goal of being greener and reducing the costs associated with this raw material.
This project has enabled us to pursue initiatives such as the ongoing ‘Risparmio di Qualità’ (‘Quality Savings’) campaign, launched in February 2022, which provides for price reductions for hundreds of private-label references, specifically over 500 everyday products – both fresh and packaged – with reductions ranging from 10% to 15%, depending on the category.
We want to work in this direction with all our suppliers, with the aim of finding joint solutions to deal with rising inflation. We intend to act with a sense of responsibility, aware of the need to adopt various solutions – both at supply chain and sector level – that can help us to mitigate this phenomenon.
How have you sought to improve the ‘eco’ credentials of your private-label offering?
We have sought to address this with two product ranges, with a strong focus on the environment and sustainability. Firstly, Eco Planet, which includes 14 references suitable for home-care and hygiene purposes, which are high quality and effective, but always formulated with respect for the environment. The products are made from raw materials of natural origin, from renewable sources, hypoallergenic, and Ecolabel, Enocert or FSC certified, guaranteeing maximum respect for the environment.
In addition, Soft Green offers a wide range of sustainable products to take care of people and our planet every day. The products are made with formulas that use materials of natural origin, organic and certified. Within this range – which currently consists of around ten references, but is increasing – the Soft Green solid shampoo stands out. It is 100% natural origin, made without preservatives, and comes in a fully recyclable cardboard pack.
From April 2022, more than 95% of the packaging of Carrefour Bio products in the fruit and vegetable department will be made from recyclable, compostable or recycled materials.
What has been the biggest private-label innovation at your company over the past year?
The launch of the Simpl range – our selection of convenient, simple and quality products to meet the needs of the most price-conscious customers. Today there are 120 products in the range, and by the end of 2022, there will be 200, for everyday use.
Other products of note include Carrefour Sensation hazelnut cream biscuits, the Carrefour BIO Vegetable Gastronomy range, and a number of products under the Terre d’Italia brand: Parmigiano Reggiano DOP – 40 months, Orbetello sea bream and sea bass, and Prosecco Asolo DOCG.