All of our at-home snacking made things a lot harder for the restaurant industry in 2020—but it’s been a boon for food companies that were able to pivot to (or already offered) online grocery orders. Amazon, of course, has been taking notes on pandemic shopping habits and developing new ways to infiltrate our kitchen cabinets. MarketWatch notes that Amazon’s grocery sales soared 52% in 2020, and the company is betting that those habits will maintain even after we arrive at whatever post-vaccine normalcy looks like. So, it has launched a new food brand, Aplenty, which will sell “snack items like pita chips, crackers and mini cookies, as well as condiments, frozen foods and pantry staples.”
As MarketWatch explains, private labels like this are a way to drive demand for the “food-at-home” category. By bundling everything consumers already buy under uniform packaging, strategically listing these results above all others on online platforms, and promoting the items with sales and other special offers, retailers can use their in-house labels to influence spending behavior. (And we already know Amazon is a master in that arena.) All the leading retail brands have a lot to gain from these brands.Target, for example, has seen success with its Good & Gather line and has announced another brand, Favorite Day, that will focus on snacking rather than staples.
In a cursory scroll through Aplenty’s offerings, you’re likely to see items that mimic the greatest hits from other stores: chocolate-covered mini grahams, everything-bagel-seasoned crackers, and sriracha pita chips have a distinctly Trader Joe’s–esque flair, and its playful packaging is pretty eye-catching on Amazon Fresh’s ordering page. There’s nothing inherently nefarious about private labels. But it’s probably worth asking yourself if Amazon is where you want to spend your grocery budget.