DeCA’s private label inventory offers national brand quality with extra savings

by Kevin L. Robinson
DeCA Public Affairs

Note: See photos related to commissary store brands.

FORT LEE, Va. – Commissary store brands made a splash nationally in early January when Store Brands Magazine highlighted the Defense Commissary Agency’s private label program as a newcomer making its mark in the industry.

“We were thrilled to be recognized as one of five ‘impact’ players in the Store Brands article,” said Jennifer Ferrell, DeCA’s private label program manager. “Our store brands are making a definite impact with our patrons who wanted the high quality, low cost alternatives that private label products provide.

“It’s wonderful to see so many patrons embrace what a truly great benefit store brands can be at their commissary,” she added.

The following categories make up the commissary store brand lineup: Freedom’s Choice for food items and HomeBase for nonfood items such as paper products and other household items. Commissaries also stock a line of products such as first aid supplies, vitamins, over-the-counter medications and beauty care items under the TopCare brand name; baby and child care items under Tippy-Toes; GMO-free, organic and natural products under Full Circle Market; and the newest addition, Flock’s Finest, wild bird food for use in hopper, tube or platform feeders.

Since being introduced in the spring of 2017, DeCA and its private label supplier SpartanNash have added more than 700 commissary store brand items to the lineup. The top-five selling categories are Freedom’s Choice water, frozen vegetables, shredded cheese, canned vegetables and HomeBase storage bags.

Ferrell said DeCA plans to have about 1,000 private label items by the end of the year and ultimately more than 3,000 products at the program’s maturity.

Commissary patrons can look forward to the following new store brands products in the next few months: Freedom’s Choice marshmallows; microwave popcorn; enhanced water; single serve coffee containers; individually frozen chicken; shrimp; “GoPack” cheese snacks which include nuts, cheese and a dried fruit (great for lunch boxes and snacks on the go); organic and regular applesauce; macaroni and cheese; ice cream and ice cream novelties; and HomeBase plastic wrap.

DeCA’s foray into private label was a simple matter of the agency offering something its patrons were already demanding, said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, DOD special assistant for commissary operations.

“Consumer demand for more value is growing and grocers are responding by expanding their private label programs,” Bianchi said. “Commissary patrons are also seeking value and choice. The surging performance of our store brands proves that they are finding it in their commissary.”

As DeCA moves forward with commissary store brands, Ferrell wants to hear from patrons about the types of products they want in their stores.

“The Store Brands Magazine exposure was just the boost of energy we needed to keep forging ahead and finding ways to expand our portfolio of products,” Ferrell said. “It’s never easy to start a new program, but we’re finding ways to be innovative and offer new opportunities to our patrons.

“We have reports that tell us what the rest of the market is focusing on but as you know, our market base is unique and there may be a product that we would consider if that’s what our patrons want.”

Commissary patrons who want to offer their feedback on the items they want in their commissary store brand inventory can do so by emailing decabrand@deca.mil.

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