Commissary Value Brands Continue to Grow

    Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 10.19.51 AMSince the introduction of Commissary Value Brands in November 2014, patrons like retired Army Master Sgt. James Camm are seeing “orange” when it comes to the program’s signature “Value” sign.

    “As you look around, the ‘Value’ stickers letting you know that here, here’s your best value for what you can get out of that product,” said Camm, while shopping at the Fort Lee, Virginia, Commissary. “Every time I come there’s quality and there’s good variety, and I love that.”

    Quality at a low price is the hallmark of Commissary Value Brands, the Defense Commissary Agency program designed to provide savings on national name brand items comparable to low-cost store brand or private label items in commercial stores.

    Through the end of 2015, sales of the products in the value brand lineup have increased seven percent for more than $120 million. On average, these products save patrons about 23 percent when compared to the commercial retail stores’ brand and private label items and about 38 percent against national brands.

    Over the past 14 months, DeCA’s Value Brands lineup has expanded from 300 products and 33 categories to nearly 500 items and 55 categories. Orange-tabbed products include beverages such as coffee, soft drinks and juices; dairy products including several cheeses, butter, canned and powdered milk; lunch meats, canned tuna and salmon; canned and frozen vegetables; canned fruit and soup; hot and cold cereals; bread; dry pasta and rice; pizza and entrees; peanut butter, jelly, honey and condiments; ice cream; cleaning supplies, disposable bags, laundry bleach and paper towels; pet foods; batteries; health and beauty care and more.

    To achieve these savings DeCA works with its industry partners every six months to choose products under Value Brands umbrella that are consistently equal to or lower than comparable store brand and private label products downtown. Products are subtracted or added under the “Value” sign based on price, sales performance and market changes. The current six-month phase began in January 2016.

    “We use [Value Brands] – it’s good stuff,” said Army Maj. Richard Crocker, visiting Fort Lee for a training course. “I found that it compares to higher-priced, name brand stuff.”

    A list of Value Brands items is on the DeCA website, Shoppers can simply click on the Value Brands webpage at Frequently asked questions and a video of the program are also there. The agency’s social media outlets, especially Facebook and Twitter, also identify Value Brand deals.

    Both Camm and Crocker agree that Value Brands and other commissary savings programs like Commissary Rewards Cards help maximize their commissary benefit, and they try to spread the word to those who may not know.

    “I would tell people who aren’t using the benefit that they’re cheating themselves,” Camm said. “When you have earned the right [to use commissaries], you should always take advantage of it.”

    “Those guys who aren’t shopping the commissary, I call them knuckleheads,” Crocker added. “I tell them they need to go to the commissary, especially if they have kids and a big family. You are wasting your time and money by not going to the commissary.”

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    Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.