- Albertsons is selling new flash-frozen, one-skillet meals through its private brand Open Nature, according to a company press release.
- The meals use a nitro flash-freezing technology called "enrobing" that coats each meal's ingredients with sauce, ensuring an even distribution as the dish heats. Each entree meal can be prepared in ten minutes or more and serves two. Twelve varieties will be available in the first roll-out, including prime rib roast with gravy, shrimp scampi with pasta, and chicken marsala meatballs.
- Albertsons continues to increase its private label penetration, with four brands now bringing in more than $1 billion annually. Open Nature includes around 1,500 SKUs and is expected to reach billion-dollar brand status by 2022.
Albertsons’ Own Brands have been a key strategic focus for the brand in recent years, with its assortment growing significantly across everything from ice cream to sustainable plates and utensils. The company now produces more than 12,000 unique items across several brands, including Open Nature, O Organics and Lucerne.
Recently, the grocer has turned its focus in Own Brands to meeting the demands of consumers who are eating out less and in need of some help in the kitchen. "A lot of our Own Brands team, they’ve pivoted to providing solutions and products that are conducive to eating at home," Albertsons president and CEO Vivek Sankaran said during the company's earnings call in October.
Albertsons is not alone in pouring R&D into its private label development. According to a report published last month by the Food Industry Association, the majority of food retailers are revising their private brand supply and inventory strategies to push lower-priced items, with 73% of retailers planning to hone in on products that support at-home cooking and meal prep. Competing chains like The Giant Company have recently rolled out store brand meals and meal accompaniments.
Grocers are also honing in on premium private label products, and data from IRI shows that during the pandemic shoppers are turning to gourmet and specialty items in order to treat themselves.
For major grocers, private label offerings are a way to maintain brand loyalty and build foot traffic in-store and online. Albertsons’ private brands now make up over 25% of its total revenue and was cited as an area of significant further growth in its March IPO filing.