23 / 24 June 2021

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Bologna, 26 March 2021 – MARCA DIGITAL SESSION was MarcabybolognaFiere’s response to the ongoing restrictions on holding in-person trade fair events as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The digital platform for meetings between producers and the grocery retail chain, created thanks to the knowhow of the organisers of the reference event for the Private Label business community, served also as a preliminary event ahead of the next in-person edition.

The market’s response to MARCA DIGITAL SESSION exceeded all expectations:

325 partner Private Label producers present – 4000 meetings held – 9000 participants – 175 foreign buyers from important foreign retail groups – 30% of foreign operators from Eastern Europe (the 2021 focus area) – plus retail groups from: the rest of Europe, USA, Canada, South America, Asia and the Middle East, 100 Italian buyers from the leading retail groups on the Committee of MarcabyBolognaFiere

There were particularly satisfying numbers for the organisers, BolognaFiere in collaboration with ADM, who worked to hold the first edition of the initiative in close collaboration with ICE Agenzia, the Italian Trade Agency, making use of a network of agents operating abroad.

The meetings between the 325 participating companies (80% Italian) and the 275 operators from grocery retail, performed a strategic role, considering that the majority of these meetings were intended to define partnership agreements to create private label products. The study carried out by ADM and The European House Ambrosetti for MarcabyBolognaFiere (presented on 24 March during MARCA DIGITAL SESSION 2021), in fact, highlighted that the supply chain for PRIVATE LABEL PRODUCTS follows a rationale of strategic long-term collaborations: in 98% of cases the supply relationships last more than two years and in almost 50% of cases the Private Label partner companies today have supply contracts with Grocery Retail players that have been in place for more than 8 years.

The economic results of these negotiations could therefore represent an interesting economic opportunity for participating Private Label partners, as was confirmed by the fact that the average duration of the 4,000 meetings activated by the BolognaFiere platform was around 18 minutes, leaving us to suppose that many of the contacts initiated can hopefully lead to further negotiations at the in-person fair, when it will also be possible to present the products that are the subject of the potential agreements.

The internationalization activities promoted by BolognaFiere with buyers from international retail groups met with a very positive response from foreign buyers; in fact, 175 took part in the project, testimony to the interest that the quality of ‘Made in Italy’ products (both food and non-food) arouses in global markets. It has been noted that at the foreign fairs specialized in Private Labels, Italian producers are always present in large numbers. The many meetings held at MARCA DIGITAL SESSION offer significant hope that Italian companies will manage to retain their leadership in the European rankings for the creation of private label products for international retail groups, in spite of the fact that the pandemic has prevented the hosting of many of these specialized events.

“We believed that it is was important to give business and the operators new opportunities to meet during a period in which such occasions continue to be restricted,” announced Gianpiero Calzolari, president of BolognaFiere. “The results achieved by MARCA DIGITAL SESSION and the substantial participation of international buyers consolidate the knowledge that the event, a leader at national level, arouses a growing interest also among international buyers, whose presence has been growing constantly over the years. It is a response that projects us towards a MarcabyBolognaFiere with important international credentials, capable of offering companies new and solid business opportunities. Our work is already focussed towards this goal, which will further boost the effectiveness of participation at the Fair, in the hope of soon being able to resume in-person activities.”

“Grocery retail,” declared Marco Pedroni, president of ADM, “is a value for the country, providing a service that is safe and convenient for citizens and support to the system of small and medium-sized firms in the agri-food sector that need to find market outlets across the national territory. The success of this digital session of Marca is confirmation that we have taken the right route, that of constant dialogue and discussions involving the overwhelming majority of companies involved in agriculture, industry and retail distribution that want to work and compete in a sound and sustainable way. I consider this to augur well for the future.”

As part of MARCA DIGITAL SESSION the two traditional MarcabyBolognaFiere themed conference events were held in virtual form.

On March 24 the convention Dall’emergenza al rilancio sostenibile: il contributo della Marca del Distributore (From the emergency to a sustainable recovery: the contribution of Private Labels), organized by ADM in collaboration with The European House-Ambrosetti) analysed the performance of Private Labels with a focus on the sustainability of the Italian market. The second appointment, on March 25, La Marca del Distributore guida il rilancio sostenibile in Italia e in Europa – I distributori e i produttori in azione (Private Labels driving the sustainable recovery in Italy and Europe – distributors and producers in action), organized by MarcabyBolognaFiere and ADM in collaboration with IRi and IPLC) analysed the drivers of the last year’s performance and the relationship between Private Labels and Sustainability.

With the intention of extending and reinforcing dialogue with international grocery retail, further developing its ties with MarcabyBolognaFiere, a survey of the European Private Label scenario (involving 50 European retailers) was conducted and presented on March 25. This survey also collected some case studies to represent the strategic importance of sustainability, confirming what was revealed in the studies conducted by ADM and TEHA. The topics pertinent to these international testimonies will be reprised and examined in greater detail during the next inperson edition of MarcabyBolognaFiere.


The 17th edition of the MarcabyBolognaFiere Report highlights the performance and trends of Private Label products; sustainability is the key to success also for dialogue with grocery retail in Europe

Bologna, 25 March 2021 – MARCA DIGITAL SESSION, the digital meeting platform for companies and buyers and to support the in-person edition of MarcabyBolognaFiere, on March 24 held a conference examining the performance of Private Label products. The event focussed on sustainability in the Italian market Dall’emergenza al rilancio sostenibile: il contributo della Marca del Distributore (From the emergency to the sustainable recovery: the role of Private Labels), organized by ADM in collaboration with The European House – Ambrosetti.

Today’s event, La Marca del Distributore guida il rilancio sostenibile in Italia e in Europa – I distributori e i produttori in azione (Private Labels driving the sustainable recovery in Italy and Europe – Distributors and producers in action), was attended via stream by the media and operators. The event opened with an introductory greeting from BolognaFiere’s General Manager Antonio Bruzzone and President of ADM Marco Pedroni and went on to present the 17th MarcabyBolognaFiere Report, curated by Gianmaria Marzoli – Retail Solutions Vice President at IRi. For reasons of methodological coherence, also this year the report focused on the theme of sustainability, an issue of growing importance for producers and consumers that is perceived as a factor of both success and responsibility concerning the offer of Private Label products. It is a process that concerns the entire production and distribution chain, as has been highlighted by Grocery Retails’ growing commitment to sharing sustainability choices with customers.

The second part of the convention examined the theme of Sustainability in Private Labels at international level.

The presentation by Professor Gianmaria Marzoli illustrated the performance of Private Labels in Italy during a year of transformation, which 2020 certainly was. The Report illustrated the main events that occurred on the market during 2020, focussing on Private Labels and explaining the main drivers of growth. The study concluded with a detailed examination of the relationship between Private Labels and sustainability.

In 2020 the results for Packaged Mass Consumption goods were strongly influenced by the pandemic. The restrictions on movements and the widespread closures across the national territory encouraged consumers to purchase from shops located nearby as well as increasing the growth of online channels.

In this context, sales of Private Label products achieved sales of 11.8 billion euros with a positive trend of +9.6% compared with the previous 12 months.

The market share was consolidated at 20%, meaning therefore, that now one in five traditional Grocery Retail purchases is a Private Label product (+0.6 compared with 2019).

In 2020 the growth was sustained by the increase in sales volumes and was driven mainly by food products, in particular fresh foods and groceries.

Moreover, the MarcabyBolognaFiere Report highlighted how the events of 2020 substantially changed the competitive positioning of Private Label products in individual categories and how growth was strongly related to their leadership role. In 143 categories Private Labels are the leaders, in 294 (around 2/3 of the categories of mass packaged consumer goods) Private Labels are ranked in the top three.

The conclusive part of the MarcabyBolognaFiere Report was focused on Sustainability, analysing, as already occurred in 2019, the competitive positioning in Italy of Private Label products and their role concerning this issue.

The analysis, carried out through attributes and characteristics of products surveyed for each single EAN, was not limited solely to the environmental impact of sustainability but was articulated based on 3 Macro Dimensions: Sustainability for the Community, Sustainability for the Person and Sustainability for the Environment.

Also in this area Private Label products registered an excellent performance, with revenues of 4.2 billion euros, up by 11.6%, generated by more than 15 thousand products active in the last two years.

It emerged that consumers prefer Private Labels when it comes to purchasing sustainable products, with relevant growth concerning both sales and market share. Two main keys to the success of Private Labels have been identified: the growing range, in a context of a general contraction of the variety on offer on the shelves – and a pricing positioning capable of ensuring the greatest cost-effectiveness in all of the various declinations of sustainable products.

“Private Labels in Italy have contributed to the growth of Grocery Retail also in a year of substantial discontinuity like 2020,” affirms Gianmaria Marzoli, Retail Solutions Vice President at IRi. “This trend for growth during recent years has been consolidated and accelerated thanks to the capacity of commercial businesses to adapt their offer to meet new needs that are emerging and that the pandemic has highlighted. The challenge for the coming years is to be ready for just this: continuing in the development of an accessible, cost-effective offer that can meet consumers’ needs.”

The second part of the convention examined the issue of Sustainability in the context of Private Labels at international level, with a presentation by Koen de Jong, Managing Partner of IPLC, of the main results of the research conducted by IPLC at more than 50 European retailers from 10 different countries: Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and France. The study analysed how retailers communicate sustainability strategies and goals, both on their own media – web, reports, social media – and at sales points, with the goal of understanding which types of actions were launched in Europe, identifying also their targets and deadlines.

As Paolo Palomba, Managing Partner di IPLC Italia and chair of the convention, emphasised, “Since 2020, almost 900 sustainable initiatives by Private Labels on our continent have been identified that make sustainability and the role of Private Labels in this area a high profile feature not only concerning reputation but also the competitiveness of retail companies. It emerged that European retailers are aware that Private Labels today offer a priority criteria for consumer choices in their own trusted supermarkets. A trend that confirms what has been occurring in Italy.”

Koen de Jong’s presentation also revealed the key elements that are useful for suppliers to understand how to support retailers in achieving their sustainability goals: technological innovation, transparency and partnerships for a sustainable value chain. Among the main areas of intervention detected most frequently in the analysis of behaviours of European retail groups, were the commitment to reducing plastic on the shelves (22%), reducing food waste (19%), reducing the use of additives in foods (19%), green packaging (14%), protecting the forests (14%) and sustainable fishing (12%). The drivers of change were identified in some structural modifications in the dynamics of consumption, first of all, the increase in the number of meals eaten at home, and are summarized in four priority elements that have characterized the choices of European retailers: transparency with the consumer, reduction of waste, local suppliers, healthy lifestyles.

This presentation of the European scenario was then illustrated with a series of case studies and interviews, during speeches by: Malen Teller Blume (Quality and Social Compliance Manager COOP Denmark), Richard Harrow (WRAP/Courtauld 2025 Steering Group Member), Paul Stainton (Partner IPLC UK, former Aldi UK Group Buying Director). Examining these two markets, it was clear to see that consumers’ requirements define the DNA of Private Labels. Coop Denmark is, in fact, a retailer historically committed to issues of sustainability that are part of the values of the company and cooperatives, in an area where consumers are highly sensitive to such issues. In Great Britain, an international reference country for the consumer and retail marketing, various tangible examples of the retailers’ sustainability credentials emerged, led in some cased by the innovative model created by Wrap, an international non-profit that supports and coordinates shared actions across the value chain in order to boost sustainability, with target measures and clear and shared roadmaps. From the drastic reduction of plastic to the introduction of refills, from the opportunity for plant-based products to sustainable packaging also for seasonal produce, with numerous actions that place sustainability as a top priority in the recovery of the entire Private Label sector. And all of this should be viewed within a new competitive landscape: the grocery e-commerce channel has now exceeded the level of 15% of all Grocery Retail sales, there is renewed competition when it comes to price, and on top of the current crisis, there is also the matter of Brexit.



The pandemic curve, the progress of vaccination campaigns on an international scale and the government measures that actually prevent the hosting of trade fair events in the first three months of the year are all determining a reorganization of the 2021 trade fair calendar. The goal of the organizers is to identify the best possible conditions in which to hold events, avoid schedule clashes and, at the same time, ensure that they are planned to take place at a time when the presence of national and international operators will be possible.

In line with these objectives, BolognaFiere, organizer of MarcabyBolognaFiere, in collaboration with ADM, the Italian Grocery Retail Association, has decided to postpone this year’s event until 23 – 24 June 2021.

In view of MarcabyBolognaFiere’s leading role and reputation with the business community (not only nationally), the organizers have chosen to postpone the event in order to ensure it can take place in a format coherent with the its own acknowledged high standards, in full safety and in line with the expectations of the market. This decision serves also to protect the investments of exhibitors and visitors that, over the years, have been key to the event’s success.

In addition to the rescheduling of MarcabyBolognaFiere, a series of initiatives in the run up to the event will enable businesses and operators to develop new commercial contacts, explore additional business opportunities and take full advantage of the two days of the fair.

The scheduled initiatives includes: from 15 – 25 March 2021 MARCA DIGITAL SESSION, the initiative that supports and boosts dialogue between retail groups and their Private Label partners, helps in the definition of new business strategies on a global scale and in setting up subsequent meetings at the Exhibition Centre, where it will also be possible to present products to the market. MARCA DIGITAL SESSION serves to focus foreign operators’ attention on the event and is also supported by the existing collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency alongside which, for many years, we have been implementing an important invitation campaign targeted at managers of private labels as well as category managers and buyers from the main international chains. This collaboration highlights MarcabyBolognaFiere’s role as an essential reference point for the sector at institutional level.

Also in the run up to the event in June are two important conventions that have been confirmed to take place on 24 and 25 March. Each year these conventions offer in-depth analysis of the main market trends as well as additional interpretations.

In particular: the traditional ADM Convention in collaboration with The European House – Ambrosetti will take place on 24 March, followed on 25 March by the presentation of the 17th MarcabyBolognaFiere Report that analyses the evolution of Private Label Products, organized by BolognaFiere and ADM, in collaboration with IRI and IPLC.

Environmental sustainability in the retail world, e-commerce, blockchain and digitalization are all central to the choices made by Europe’s leading retail groups and these are just some of the themes that will be discussed in depth at roundtables that foster the debate and involve expert contributors and leading players from the sector. The analysis and discussions of experiences and trends in Europe, proposed by the IPLC in the event on 25 March, will serve as essential tools to support the internationalization strategies that MarcabyBolognaFiere makes available to the business community for the sector.

Bologna, 5 February 2021

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