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Building a profitable private label brand: A guide for manufacturers

Nov 15, 2023
15 min read

For manufacturers, building a profitable private label brand requires data-driven market research, strategic planning, and an effective marketing plan.

At a glance:

  • Private label branding offers agricultural manufacturers long-term partnerships, cost efficiency, and market differentiation.
  • Market trends such as cost savings, sustainability, and retailer loyalty drive the growth of private label brands in agriculture.
  • Manufacturers must focus on niche market research and data-driven strategies to succeed in private label branding within the agri-supply chain.

The agricultural supply chain relies on manufacturers to create essential agri-food products. Manufacturers can offer supply either as private label or white label products. Private label branding, which has recently been rising in popularity, offers a strategic way for manufacturers to thrive amid challenges and gain a competitive edge in the market. It also empowers them to become key players in the agricultural supply chain, offering unique, value-driven products that resonate with retailers and consumers. With the benefits and demand for this kind of branding, it is important for manufacturers to know how to build a profitable private label brand.

The basics of private label branding

Private label branding, also known as store brands, involves manufacturers producing products that bear another company's branding, typically a retailer. These products span a wide range of categories within the agricultural supply chain, including seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, packed food and beverages, and more. Private label brands aim to provide consumers with affordable alternatives to nationally recognized brands without compromising quality.

As with any strategy and trend in the agri-food sector, private label branding is driven by several factors. Some of these factors and market trends are the consumer need for cost savings, demand for sustainable and locally-sourced products[1], and customer and retailer loyalty[2].

Essentially, private label manufacturing serves as a strategic opportunity[3] for agri-suppliers. It allows them to diversify their portfolio, increase profit margins, tap into new sources of revenue, strengthen relationships with customers and retailers, and capitalize on an already established brand loyalty. To ensure that the profitability of a private label brand is maximized, there are some practices and techniques that agri-manufacturers can take into consideration.

Identify your niche

Identifying your niche is not just about finding a gap in the market but also aligning it with your expertise, values, and resources. Manufacturers should continually monitor market dynamics, consumer preferences, and competitor activities to remain well-positioned to effectively serve their niche.

Conduct market research and analysis

Finding a profitable niche is essential for a successful private label brand.  Market research and analysis are the initial steps in niche identification. Manufacturers need a comprehensive understanding of the agricultural supply chain, the evolving needs of farmers, and agri-product market dynamics.

Gathering data on market trends, consumer preferences, and regional disparities is crucial. Valuable insights can be obtained by leveraging data from authoritative sources like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)[4] of the United Nations, and reputable agricultural research institutions.

For instance, consider a manufacturer based in the U.S. interested in developing private label brands for agricultural machinery. This brand can analyze the machinery statistics available at FAOSTAT[5] where they may discover a growing trend in sustainable farming practices, offering an opportunity to focus on environmentally friendly and energy-efficient machinery.

Select the right agricultural products

Choosing the right agricultural products is a crucial decision. Manufacturers should consider their capabilities, resources, and potential partnerships when deciding what to specialize in. Essentially, it is about meeting demand and aligning with the manufacturer's mission and values.

Manufacturers often excel in specific areas due to their expertise and experience. For instance, a manufacturer with a long history in seed production may want to use that knowledge to produce high-quality, disease-resistant crop varieties.

While expertise is important, diversification can reduce risk. Private label brands can encompass a range of products, from agricultural supplies to food and beverages. This diversification can help manufacturers weather market fluctuations and spread their risk.

Collaborating with other manufacturers or research institutions can also expand the range of products you can offer. For example, teaming up with a research institution specializing in agricultural technology can lead to cutting-edge innovations that differentiate your private label brand.

Perform competitive analyses

Selecting the right products should also be informed by a comprehensive competitive analysis. What products are currently underrepresented in the market? Where can you establish a strong presence?

Research has shown that successful manufacturers, especially those in the U.S., have often capitalized on their market knowledge to identify underserved niches[6]. For instance, they may spot a gap in the market for highly efficient, eco-friendly agricultural machinery and choose to focus their private label brand efforts in this direction.

Create a unique value proposition

Establishing a unique value proposition is vital for the success of your private label brand. Your value proposition distinguishes your brand and provides consumers with a compelling reason to prefer your products over competitors. It involves a multifaceted approach requiring a focus on quality, sustainability, and competitive pricing. Private label manufacturers in the agricultural sector who embrace these elements would set their brand apart in a highly competitive market.

Quality assurance and product differentiation

Compelling value propositions in the agricultural sector hinge on an unwavering commitment to quality. Private label manufacturers must ensure that their products consistently meet or exceed industry standards. Rigorous quality control measures, product testing, and adherence to stringent production protocols are critical. This dedication to quality forms the basis of a strong brand identity and consumer trust.

For example, in a 2001 study[7] on the European fresh produce sector, quality and quality assurance have significant implications for various stakeholders. This paper clarifies the ambiguity surrounding the concept of quality, highlights the need for consistent terminology, and recognizes retailers as central figures in shaping and implementing quality standards. It also underscores the emergence of a shared industry perspective on critical quality attributes, with a focus on safety, environmental considerations, and social factors.

Sustainability and environmental considerations

Sustainable practices are no longer optional but imperative in today's agricultural landscape[8]. Implement eco-friendly farming, production, and packaging practices. Communicate your commitment to environmental responsibility through clear branding and labeling, demonstrating to consumers that your brand is dedicated to preserving the environment for future generations.

For instance, a 2016 sustainability study[9] offers a roadmap for biogas industry players, outlining strategies based on their level of integration and the importance of understanding consumer preferences. It emphasizes the need to consider ecological implications and target diverse consumer segments, while access to distribution channels plays a crucial role in achieving mass market success.

Pricing strategies

Offering cost-effective solutions is a fundamental aspect of any value proposition. Private label brands should aim to provide consumers with high-quality products at a competitive price point. Keep a keen eye on the market and adjust pricing strategies as necessary to maintain competitiveness.

A 2022 article on pricing strategy[10] emphasizes the significance of decision-making models in agricultural product supply chains with farmer cooperatives at the core. It highlights that centralized decision-making generally leads to higher overall supply chain profits compared to decentralized models, but it results in higher final product prices. The study also underscores the importance of considering consumer preferences and price acceptance, implementing differentiated pricing for ordinary and characteristic agricultural products.

Build a strong brand identity

Building a strong brand identity is a multifaceted process that involves visual design, storytelling, and selecting the right brand name. It is a strategic investment that pays off by setting your private label brand apart from the competition and establishing a deep connection with consumers and retailers.

Design a memorable brand logo and packaging

The visual elements of your private label brand play a fundamental role in shaping consumer perceptions and loyalty. Your brand logo and packaging are often the first interaction consumers have with your products.

Creating a memorable brand logo requires a thoughtful blend of creativity and professionalism. This symbol should encapsulate your brand's essence, values, and what it represents in the agricultural supply chain.

While your logo captures the essence of your brand, your packaging serves as its physical representation. Packaging should be designed with practicality, aesthetics, and sustainability in mind. Consider the rising demand of sustainable packaging[11] when designing.

Craft a compelling brand story

A brand story is a powerful tool to connect emotionally with consumers and build brand loyalty. It should convey your mission, values, and the unique journey that sets your private label brand apart. When crafting your brand story, keep these elements in mind:

  1. Authenticity: Be true to your brand's values. Do not create a story just for marketing; ensure it genuinely reflects your practices and beliefs.
  2. Relatability: Make your story relatable to your target audience. Use language and imagery that resonate with farmers and agricultural professionals.
  3. Consistency: Your brand story should permeate every aspect of your marketing and product presentation, from your website to your social media channels.

Selecting the right brand name

Choosing the right name for your private label brand is a critical decision. A well-chosen brand name can make your products memorable and distinctive in a crowded market. The brand name should reflect your values, avoid ambiguity, and be available.

Remember that changing your brand name after establishing a market presence can be challenging, so choose carefully. Conduct thorough research and, if necessary, seek legal advice to ensure your brand name is legally sound.

Establish relationships with suppliers

Building strong supplier relationships is a critical foundation for success in private label brands within the agricultural supply chain. By carefully selecting suppliers, negotiating favorable terms, and ensuring supply chain consistency, manufacturers can establish a solid groundwork for producing high-quality private label products.

Source high-quality raw materials

A successful private label brand begins with sourcing high-quality raw materials. In the agricultural supply chain, product quality is closely linked to the materials used. To maintain your brand's reputation for excellence, establishing strong relationships with reliable suppliers is crucial.

Negotiate favorable terms with suppliers

Effective negotiation skills[12] can make a significant difference in securing favorable terms with suppliers in the agricultural supply chain. These negotiations often involve price, delivery schedules, and contractual agreements. Manufacturers must balance quality and cost-efficiency while ensuring mutually beneficial terms.

Ensure consistency in supply

Consistency in the supply chain is vital for private label brands. Manufacturers must ensure uniform product quality, regardless of market fluctuations or external disruptions. To mitigate potential disruptions, consider establishing relationships with backup suppliers. Having alternative sources of supply can help offset the impact of unforeseen events, such as natural disasters or transportation issues.

Comply with regulations and standards

Complying with regulations and standards in the agricultural supply chain is a vital component of building a private label brand. Adherence to agricultural regulations, maintaining high-quality standards, and obtaining certifications and accreditations all contribute to a brand's trustworthiness, ensuring that consumers can rely on the safety and quality of the products they purchase.

Ensure regulatory compliance and quality assurance

Agricultural regulations encompass areas such as crop protection, pesticide usage, fertilizers, and labeling requirements. Straying from compliance not only poses legal risks but also threatens a brand's reputation and may necessitate product recalls.

A prime illustration of this diligence revolves around pesticide usage oversight, which agencies like the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)[13] and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)[14] oversee. Their comprehensive rules ensure the safety of pesticides for human health and the environment. Meeting these regulations demands rigorous testing and accurate disclosure of pesticide usage, cementing trust in product safety among consumers.

Safety and quality standards[15] play an equally critical role. Manufacturers must uphold stringent quality assurance protocols to meet or surpass industry benchmarks. For instance, in fertilizer production, adherence to these standards guarantees specifications like nutrient content, solubility, and particle size distribution are met consistently. This commitment not only satisfies regulatory requirements but also ensures consumers receive products of unwavering quality.

Obtain certifications and accreditations

Acquiring certifications and accreditations can further enhance the credibility and trustworthiness of a private label brand. Certifications serve as endorsements that products have met specific criteria, often aligning with environmental and ethical concerns that are increasingly relevant to consumers.

For example, an agri-manufacturer producing organic fertilizers can pursue USDA Organic certification in the United States[16]. This certification assures consumers that the product meets strict organic farming standards, such as avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. It provides a clear signal to consumers that the product aligns with their preferences for environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

Accreditations from respected industry bodies can also be valuable. ISO certifications[17] for quality management, for instance, indicate a commitment to continuous improvement, ensuring that the product consistently meets or exceeds customer expectations.

Develop a distribution strategy

Manufacturers must carefully choose the distribution channels, adapt to regional variations, and consider the potential for international expansion. A well-executed distribution strategy can greatly contribute to the success of private label brands by ensuring that products reach the right customers timely and efficiently.

Build distribution networks

Distribution networks are critical in the agricultural supply chain, serving as the pathways for products to reach end consumers. Manufacturers of private label brands must carefully plan their distribution strategy, focusing on aspects such as channel selection, market segmentation, logistics and supply chain management, regional considerations, and inventory management.

Choose the right sales channels

The choice of sales channels significantly impacts the success of private label brands in the agricultural supply chain. Manufacturers must consider various options, including direct sales, e-commerce, retailer partnerships, participation in trade shows and expos, and joining agricultural cooperatives.

Expand internationally

International expansion offers growth opportunities for private label manufacturers in the US or any locality. However, success in international markets requires specific strategies. Market research is essential to understand the unique needs, regulations, and cultural preferences of the target international markets.

Leveraging government programs can reduce entry barriers and mitigate risks. Adapting and localizing branding, including translation and addressing cultural sensitivities, is crucial. Collaboration with local distributors and agents who understand the international market helps with regulations and logistics. Meeting regulatory compliance, including product labeling, safety standards, and certifications, are also vital in international trade.

Market your private label brand

Marketing is vital in a successful private label brand in the agricultural supply chain. It involves creating a product that connects with your target audience effectively. Some strategies and tactics to help agri-manufacturers market their private label brands effectively include:

Digital marketing strategies

In the digital age, an effective marketing strategy is essential for promoting a private label brand. Manufacturers should utilize various digital platforms[18], including social media, search engines, and email marketing, to reach a wider audience. Customizing digital marketing for specific target demographics enhances brand visibility and engagement.

Content creation

Compelling content is vital for successful marketing. Manufacturers should focus on creating informative, visually appealing content that resonates with their target audience. This includes educational blog posts, engaging videos, and visually appealing infographics that highlight their private label products' unique selling points.

Targeted advertising campaigns

Targeted advertising helps manufacturers reach specific segments of their audience with tailored messaging, optimizing their marketing budget. By using data analytics and consumer insights, manufacturers can refine their advertising strategies and deliver personalized ads across digital channels, including social media, search engines, and relevant industry websites.

Recognize customer feedback

Customer feedback serves as a cornerstone of building a profitable private label brand in the agricultural supply chain. Manufacturers should view it as an ongoing process with the objective of not only satisfying customers but also delighting them. By actively collecting feedback, implementing improvements, and fostering customer loyalty, manufacturers can create a brand that resonates with consumers and stands out in a competitive market.

Measure and analyze performance

Measuring and analyzing the performance of a private label brand is a continuous process relying on key performance indicators, regular reviews, data-driven decision-making, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior. Manufacturers who embrace data analytics as a strategic tool will be better equipped to make informed decisions that drive the growth and success of their private label brands in the agricultural supply chain.

Some key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help evaluate the performance of private label brands in the agricultural supply chain are:

  • Sales growth: Measures revenue increase
  • Market share: Indicates competitiveness
  • Customer satisfaction ratings: Reflect product quality
  • ROI (Return on Investment): Evaluates profitability
  • Customer retention rate: Measures loyalty
  • Inventory turnover: Shows efficiency
  • COGS (cost of goods sold): Ensures pricing aligns with production costs

Meanwhile, tracking and adjusting strategies is also crucial for private label branding success. Regularly reviewing KPIs, making data-driven decisions, analyzing competitors, staying updated on market trends, and maintaining agility are vital. Periodic assessments help respond to changing circumstances, data guides decision-making, competitor analysis offers insights, market research anticipates shifts, and flexibility is key for adaptation. Additionally, data analytics is transformative in private label branding by providing insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and brand performance.

Challenges and potential pitfalls

Creating a profitable private label brand in the agricultural supply chain presents various challenges and pitfalls. Common hurdles include limited brand recognition, maintaining retailer relationships, and fierce competition. To overcome these challenges, manufacturers should invest in marketing and brand-building, foster strong retailer relationships, and innovate their product lines.

Furthermore, avoiding pitfalls in the agricultural supply chain is essential. Climate change and supply chain disruptions require climate-resilient practices and diversification of sourcing. Economic and market shifts necessitate adaptability and vigilance in response to changing consumer preferences and economic conditions. Quality assurance and regulatory compliance are crucial for maintaining brand trustworthiness.

The future of private label branding in agriculture

Innovation is the cornerstone of success in the agricultural supply chain, which is why manufacturers should also have insight into the future trends in private label branding. Some of these opportunities for innovation include:

  1. Sustainable packaging: Develop innovative, eco-friendly packaging solutions[19] that reduce environmental impact, such as biodegradable and reusable materials. These efforts not only contribute to sustainability but also cater to the growing demand for environmentally responsible products.
  2. Advanced product formulations: Invest in research to create advanced formulations for agri-food products. These formulations should reduce resource consumption and minimize environmental harm.
  3. Supply chain technology: Embrace supply chain technologies[20] like blockchain to enhance transparency and traceability. This can build trust among consumers, especially those seeking full disclosure on the origins and quality of agricultural products.


In the agricultural supply chain, private label branding is a beacon of adaptability and innovation, offering manufacturers a path to diversification and profitability. Manufacturers, integral to the industry's transformation, must ensure quality, innovation, and strong partnerships.

Private label branding forges lasting collaborations with retailers, providing cost-efficient alternatives and market distinction, aligning with growing consumer demand for value, sustainability, and loyalty. It also holds promise through innovations like sustainable packaging, advanced product formulations, and transparent supply chain technologies.

As the agricultural landscape evolves, private label branding remains a guiding light for manufacturers. Embracing best practices and techniques is key to success in an ever-changing agricultural world.

Tridge Retailer Trends can help you build a profitable private label brand with insights into recent trends in the food retail industry. Explore the benefits of Retailer Trends and get a free sample report sent to your inbox.

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