As part of ESM's annual Private Label Issue, we spoke to Coop Switzerland, which has been busy in terms of private-label innovation during the pandemic as it seeks to tap into changing consumer need states. This article first appeared in ESM Issue 3 2021.
Coop Switzerland has seen its sales rise during the pandemic – its supermarket sales went up by 14.3% during 2020 – and the retailer has also been particularly active when it comes to new-product development, adding some 350 products to its Prix Garantie cut-price line, as well as expanding its organic range and Karma vegetarian/vegan offering.
As Coop spokesperson Patrick Häfliger tells ESM, private label is an “important part of the offering across all sales channels”, amidst changing consumer tastes.
“Our customers are now attaching even greater importance to sustainable and regional products,” Häfliger says of the changing consumer habits in recent months.
“We have noticed this especially with our private labels, such as Coop Naturaplan or Pro Montagna. At the same time, demand for products from our low-price private label, Prix Garantie, has also increased.”
According to Häfliger, the challenge for a retailer like Coop is to “find the balance between private-label and branded products” and develop products tailored to consumers’ individual needs and emerging market trends. Hence, the burgeoning plant-based trend has been growing steadily at the retailer over the last few years.
“We expect demand to increase again in the medium term and will continuously expand our range,” Häfliger says. “This is especially true with the Karma range of vegetarian and vegan products.
“There are currently over 1,200 products in Coop supermarkets that are certified with the official Swissveg label, 1,000 of which are vegan. Coop’s plant-based range includes over 70 meat substitutes, more than 50 milk alternatives, 30 yoghurt alternatives, and around 20 cheese alternatives. Coop will continue to pioneer plant-based products in the future.”
The retailer has a long-standing reputation for sustainability, and this, too, is reflected in its product offering – nearly half of all organic products sold in Switzerland cross the checkout at Coop.
“Sustainability is firmly anchored in our company and is lived by all employees,” says Häfliger. “As a cooperative, sustainability is an integral part of all areas of the company, and it is integrated as an important element in our statutes, missions and processes.
“For over 30 years, we have been leading the way, with a comprehensive approach to sustainability in the Swiss retail trade, and we are committed to sustainable consumption. Coop is a pioneer and the undisputed organic market leader.”