Grocery shopping is a necessary activity for most people and the process in which people are going about it has changed dramatically over the years. Fads have emerged from clipping coupons to online shopping and even monthly food delivery subscriptions. One thing shoppers all seem to agree on is grocery shopping with the intent of saving money and buying quality food for less. According to a Market Force Information ( study from March of more than 6,000 respondents, 98% of shoppers purchase private label food items or cleaning products at least some of the time. This number is up from 96% in 2013. These are overwhelming numbers; not only are shoppers more driven to save money, but private label packagers are really upping their game to compete with the big brands.

Market Force’s study was designed to discover purchasing trends for private label grocery products and shoppers awareness of private label brands. So, what are the top products shoppers are buying in private label brands? The number one item is dairy. The study revealed that 78% of shoppers are familiar with their supermarket’s private label dairy products and 60% are frequently purchasing them (35% said they sometimes purchase them).

Private label cereal is a less common purchase with only 27% of participants saying that they purchase it most of the time or always, a slight dip from the 30% reported in 2013. In addition, 31% said they never buy private label cereal – the highest of any grocery category studied. And it isn’t due to lack of awareness as 76% indicated that they are aware of their primary grocer offering private label cereal.

Market Force also looked at consumer behavior around the purchase of private label cleaning products and revealed that awareness was particularly low. Twenty-six percent of shoppers said they opt for private label most of the time or always, up from 23% in 2013. That being said, 39% of respondents said they don’t know if their grocer sells a private label cleaning product –nearly 15% higher than any other category studied.

The private label sector is offering growth opportunities for packagers across several vertical markets, and not just the ones mentioned here. As more private label brands offer consumers quality products in convenient packaging at competitive pricing, this segment will continue to grow. For ideas on new packaging formats and applications that are changing the private label sector, visit PACK EXPO International 2014 in Chicago this November.