PLMA – Private Label Manufacturers Association

Private Label accounts for 38% of the market share in Europe. (Bord Bia)  However, CEO Tara McCarthy of Bord Bia referenced significant opportunities for growth in a number of categories. Continental European retailers are at a market share level of 32% which is significantly behind the UK rate of 52% (IRI Worldwide). On a whole, the objective required of procurement professionals in the retail industry is to ‘buy better’ to compete with discounters. With the unknown of post-Brexit, the trade tariffs need to be taken into consideration to combat future costs whilst maintaining quality for the consumer. The agri-food exports across Ireland are predicted to dramatically move over the next 24 months. (Teagasc) This rapid movement to alternative suppliers will put pressure on food retailers across Ireland to react in advance as supply base options narrow for the demand on EU suppliers. The German discounters like Aldi & Lidl have dramatically improved their offering since first arriving in 1999. With the focus now on local produce and Irish origin the larger retailers are lowering price points as the discounters compete on quality.

This week I flew into Schiphol airport to attend one of the largest Private Label trade shows, PLMA for the first time. In my role I focus on sourcing for private label for Irish retailers. PLMA held in Rai in Amsterdam is a 2 day event involving over 4000 global exhibitors from suppliers to manufacturers. It is one of the largest trade shows in Europe after Anuga in Cologne. It caters for both Food (fresh, frozen and refrigerated foods, dry grocery and beverages) and Non-food products (cosmetics, health & beauty, household and kitchen, auto aftercare, garden and household DIY) and includes suppliers for major retailers and discounters across the world.

Over 5000 visitors and buyers descended on the conference to find new and existing products to compete within the retail industry and engage with potential suppliers. The annual event is important to attend as manufacturers are investing in their companies to be able to provide larger ranges and have teams of product developers and technologists to bring new lines to life to compete in this heavily saturated industry.


With the aforementioned rise of discounters in Ireland, neighbouring retailers across the EU have subsequently lowered prices of product to compete but have also expanded their range to include non-food goods. The non-food section increases year on year at PLMA as there is more of a demand from consumers on retailers to provide a ‘one stop shop’ to include an array of products from clothing, garden and DIY products.

Amongst many others, I met Dry-lock, one of the most impressive stands in the trade show in which large digital screens were used as walls to display video adverts of the products and how the new ‘magic tube’ technology works. Dry-lock supply private label nappies to major retailers and have recently developed a new technology to compete with branded Pampers magic tube technology for more absorption than leading brands. With a very impressive resume of fast tracking to success in just 5 years from first opening their doors they have already established themselves to be serious competitors within private label.

Health was also on the agenda with many confectionery and cereal companies making claims of using little or no sugar only naturally occurring. Alternatives to salt-heavy snacks were substituted for trendy ingredients such as quinoa and kale. Gluten free was also a hot topic and is in high demand along with the need of multiple allergens to be omitted from factory lines. Ireland’s population has a higher than average percentage of coeliac affected people due the high-existence of wheat in the diet.

Ireland also had greater presence on stands than in the past with the Origin Green logo displayed across the section. It appeared Irish suppliers had focused on both premiumisation to enforce quality and expansion of ranges so that retailers can include important claims on product packs sought after by consumers as well as buyers to increase loyalty to the private label brand.



My advice for goers in PLMA- have ideas on what products you are looking to hone in on. There is a room filled with thousands of experts and innovative ideas for retailers and businesses to grow their current range. The halls are organised into regions so that each pavilion consists of relevant products of that origin, i.e. Italian includes pasta and sauces etc. Navigation is key in PLMA and with over 14 halls the new app is a must for a user-friendly experience. In preparation for PLMA, once registered it is wise to communicate to current suppliers/agents that may also be in attendance on the day to catch-up and arrange a meeting to discuss product ranges etc. The majority of exhibitors included products belonging to UK and EU retailers that they cater for. This is a great benchmarking exercise to see how your products measures up across the market.


After nursing my blisters from the circa 40,000 steps I took over the two days I found the benefits to exceed my expectations for my first attendance of PLMA.  On that note, preparation is key in PLMA but also to keep an open mind to products as a buyer which may identify gaps in your range to compete with retailers. Maybe I will see you there next year?

Suzie Lynch

Suzie Lynch

Before procurement, Suzie worked for various retailers and marketing companies. Her most unusual assignment was a starring role, in a commercial, where she had to steal food from strangers to promote burritos. Realising that this was an unsustainable path, Suzie chose to work in procurement as she gets to work with all departments in each business. As a results driven procurement specialist, Suzie’s top tip on getting the most from procurement is “Know what you want to buy and for how much. This will save you time and money in the long run and will help you achieve desired results.” In her spare time, Suzie plays tag rugby to keep fit and burn off those burritos.
Suzie Lynch

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