Name your favorite commercial grocery retailer. Be it Walmart, Giant, Target or Wegmans, they’ve each got their own line of private label products. And if you’re anything like me, you’re more than happy to add a store brand item to your cart if it means a few dollars off your bill.
And now, DeCA, has expanded its arsenal in the fight to keep our commissaries open by launching a series of new products under its own store brand. Commissary shoppers rejoice! Even more savings? I’ll take it.
While the plan to add commissary private label products to the shelves has been in the works for over a year, the private label program’s 2 easily recognizable and aptly-named brands — Freedom’s Choice and Homebase — were officially announced in February.
Freedom’s Choice branded food products will be sourced from leading manufacturers and undergo a rigorous testing and selection process. Homebase products will be non-food items including things like plastic bags. As a weekly commissary shopper, I for one, can hardly wait to see these new products hit the shelves.
A Year of Creative Initiatives
It’s hard not to be impressed by the series of creative initiatives DeCA has rolled out in the last year in an attempt to revitalize local commissaries and help shrink the nearly billion-dollar taxpayer-funded subsidy required to keep commissaries open. These initiatives have included everything from variable pricing structures to curbside pick-up.
Private labeling seems to be one of the most promising efforts. In fact, according to the DeCA website, nearly 60% of its patrons expressed an openness to buying a private label product.
“Our customers have been asking for private label for a long time,” said DeCA’s director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu.
If commissary shoppers hold true to their word, the planned product line seems destined for success. In fact, if all goes according to plan, the new private label product line could help reduce commissary costs by half a billion dollars in the next 10 years.
The new program promises that nearly 1,000 private label products will be on commissary shelves by the end of 2017, but shoppers will only see a few initial products. The first products were due to hit shelves in May, and a recent visit to the Fort Meade commissary confirmed that the program is indeed underway.
My First Private Label Purchase
I expected to see the products presented with a greater fanfare, but I was able to locate 2 products, bottled water under the Freedom’s Choice label and kitchen garbage bags under the Homebase brand. Both were attractively packaged and both were offered at a substantial savings over the next cheapest brand.
The case of water offered a $0.40 savings over our usual brand. Calculated out, a 40-cent savings on each of 2 cases of water per week would save our family just over $40 per year! I am also happy to report, that as far as taste is concerned, the water was met with the approval of our entire family – including one kid who happens to be very particular about her bottled water!
I will be keeping my eyes open for additional private labels items. My hope is we will see products like pasta, gluten-free items, vitamins and juices. It might also be nice to see it in the freezer section on items like frozen vegetables, ice cream and even pizza.
My hope is that in sourcing items for this product line, DeCA will keep the dietary needs of military families in mind. It would be great to see items offered at a low cost that also make eating healthy a little bit easier.