Supermarkets No Longer Treat Generics as the Shame of the Cart

Categories: Talking Points
Roadside Pictures/Flickr
This was what generic food looked like in the 1970s.
Grocery chains have been rebranding their generic store brands for a decade or two now with flashier packaging and better names -- Whole Foods' 365, Safeway's O Organics -- but a new story from Bloomberg Business Week/SF Chronicle reports that the chains are now initiating large-scale marketing campaigns around these brands, too.

Maybe it's the recession, maybe it's the Trader Joe's effect -- article after article have ferreted out the brand-name manufacturers behind the Trader Giuseppe's/Trader Jose's labels, giving shoppers the idea that they're not sacrificing quality. More and more supermarkets are displacing brand-name products to devote shelf space to their own products. And the strategy's working, the article reports:
As of mid-November, store brands accounted for 31.4 percent of the 14,400 new food and beverage items introduced in the United States this year, according to market researcher Packaged Facts, based on data from Datamonitor's Product Launch Analytics. That's double the share logged in 2010 and up from just 8.7 percent in 2009.
Are American shoppers simply being ultra-price-conscious? Or are we shifting our brand allegiance from products to stores? Who knows, perhaps one day the old black-and-white cans SFoodie used to shrink away from in the stores will be hailed as populist, minimalist chic.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

My Voice Nation Help

New Urban Garden Concept

Two Books are necessary to make neighborhood gardening take off...

1. Food Not Lawns -Heather C. Flores

2. Square Foot Gardening -Mel Bartholomew

My suggestion is to create a non-profit organization that will install gardens

based on a few easy and affordable backyard design templates in urban

and suburban areas. The goals of this effort are-

1. To make urban gardens easy and cheap by streamlining the garden

designs into a few backyard design pattern templates that the "customer"

could choose from. The design patterns would incorporate both square foot

gardening concepts and some basic composting and water usage

concepts from the "Food Not Lawns"

2. Network all recipients and hosts of these new urban food gardens via a

website. The website allows (requires) individuals to list the produce they

will be growing this season, and the gives individuals the option to trade

one kind of produce for another by requesting via internet. Website is also

divided into neighborhoods and allows posting for neighborhood daily, or

weekly potluck events. Website also hosts practical gardening tips and

food recipes.

That's the idea in a nutshell. Design about 4-5 backyard garden design

templates that are workable in urban environments, find backyard hosts

that are willing to donate for cost of installation or have acharitable organizations who will make the donation. Make things cheapand affordable for all, and allow people to trade produce and schedulepotlucks.

This helps move towards a more inclusive community, and moreimportantly it helps bridge the food gap in a way that is healthy andsustainable. It would also cut down on traffic and possibly otherproblems because people would no longer be required to go to soupkitchens or far-away grocery stores, and could instead stay in theirown neighborhoods and be more self-sustainable. I think this idea couldtake off with minimal resources for the amount of return to the city.This is a big idea. It just dropped into my head one day.

My name is Zach.

I can do my best to facilitate conversations between non-profits and others

who might be interested in this idea and investors who might be interested

in donating to this idea and vice a versa. I am just a student, but this idea

needs to happen and this was underscored for me today when I picked up

the most recent copy of the Guardian, The Great Food Divide.

It is my personal opinion that this idea can help evade famine in America.

So, while some among us might be tempted to allow big corporations to

continue to dominant the food supply and play our violins as we allow

apocolyptic self-fulfilling prophecies of famine and pestilence to starve us

all...There is a better way.

It is not just for the wealthy. It is affordable. It is efficient. It is empowering.

But most importantly it is human.


Please contact me at



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