Kroger’s Simple Truth tops $1.7 billion.

In his annual letter to company shareholders this past week, Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of The Kroger Co., highlighted the retailer’s
portfolio of private for their growth and significance in  2016.

“Our brands are in more homes than ever before,” McMullen said. “We sold a record number of units last year. In fact, our customers fill their carts with more than 1.25 million corporate brand items every hour. Simple Truth grew at an impressive rate again in 2016, reaching total sales of $1.7 billion. Simple Truth Organic accounted for more than $1 billion of that total.”

 “Today, natural and organic foods are integral to our success — indeed, they are the products our customers have come to expect — and reached $16 billion in annual sales in 2016,” he added.

“As a result, we regularly evolve our Customer 1st Strategy based on where we believe and anticipate the customer is going,” he said. “We’re constantly mining our data to assess product trends, making careful judgments about what customers will want three, five and even 10 years from now. So while our overarching strategy doesn’t change, the tactics we put in place to execute the strategy will.”

McMullen said Kroger is monitoring on customer megatrends, like health and wellness and the desire for restaurant-quality fresh and prepared foods that are also very convenient. He noted that Kroger’s culinary team recently rolled out the private brand meal kit brand, Prep + Pared, to pilot stores and plans scale them up in the coming year.

“Meal kits are one of many offerings designed to meet our customers’ changing definition of convenience,” he said. “We believe Kroger can really excel in this small but growing segment.”

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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.