News & Media

Impact players: DeCA
January 11, 2019
Source: Store Brands
4. DeCA — Continued deployment of private brands

The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) learned from a 2016 survey of its customers that they wanted private brands because they were purchasing them from competing retailers. So DeCA, the 19th-largest grocery retailer in the U.S., went to work on a program and introduced private brands to its stores in mid-2017 for the first time in its 25-year history.

In the next three years, DeCA, which serves current and retired military personnel and their families, aims to increase its store brand inventory to between 3,000 and 4,000 items. DeCA also realizes it must differentiate its private brand offerings to be competitive.

Since mid-2017, Arlington, Va.-based DeCA, which operates 180 commissaries in the U.S. (mostly located on military bases), has been steadily building its program, which began with only a few products — bottled water under its Freedom’s Choice (food products) line and kitchen and trash bags under its HomeBase (non-food items) line. DeCA is partnering with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, which supplies products for Freedom’s Choice and HomeBase. The commissaries also offer TopCare products, including first aid supplies, vitamins, over-the-counter medications and beauty care items. TopCare is a store brand supplied by Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based Topco Associates.

After the modest initial offering, DeCA rolled out a slew of additional products under Freedom’s Choice and HomeBase in late 2017, including cheese, rice and dry beans, foam and plastic plates, shelf-stable juices, water enhancers, powdered soft drinks, paper towels and bath tissue.

DeCA is also introducing baking goods, pie fillings, dry soup mixes, honey, pourable dressings, mustard mayonnaise, peanut butter, broth and other products under Freedom’s Choice. Under HomeBase, DeCA added 39-gallon disposable clear trash bags in addition to aluminum foil. Last February, DeCA said its private brands portfolio had grown to nearly 500 store brand products.

Last spring, DeCA added two new Topco store brands — TippyToes organic baby food and organic vegetables, and Full Circle Market organic beans and chick peas.

DeCA’s continued expansion will certainly impact the private brands industry’s overall growth.