As discussed in a past post, West Michigan with its rich Dutch heritage has a reputation of being cheap. One thing that exemplifies the perception of cheap is the store brands or private labels products you can purchase in stores right along side the name brand products. You know the Meijer peanut butter, Spartan Stores frozen broccoli, or Walgreen’s toothbrushes. Almost every store has a complete offering of products with their store brand emblazoned on the product, and it is generally cheaper than the name brand version sitting right next to it. Well it shouldn’t surprise anyone that West Michigan is home to a number of these private label manufacturers making a wide array of products to sell to consumers with a store brand name on the packaging. Here is a list I have compiled, so lets get rolling!
Cheeze Kurls – But not only do they make Cheeze Kurls, but they also make balls, puffs, pops, fries, nuggets, pieces, among other delicious products. So while you might see their own brand on the shelves but most likely some of the store brands you purchase have been produced by Cheeze Kurls. Per this article 85% of their business is private label – some of the noted customers are Meijer, Spartan, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, CVS, and Rite-Aid. Cheeze Kurls is located in the Walker area nearby Meijer. Check out MiBiz’s piece on the company for an extremely thorough look at the company and on the snack food.
Request Foods – Surprisingly we have already covered Request Foods and how their company name was inspired by the DeVos’ Windquest boat. I just don’t know about Holland companies and the way they go about naming their companies. To recap Request Foods specializes in frozen entrees and provides private labeling, just look the picture and imagine your private label here.
Festida Foods - Staying with the snack food theme, Grand Rapids is also home to Festida Foods, a private label manufacturer of tortilla chips and corn chips – what exactly is a corn chip and how is it different from a tortilla chip? Earlier this year they moved from Cedar Springs to a facility in Grand Rapids to meet their recent growth.
Artesian Distillers – Yes private label vodka, whisky, gin, or rum is now available, thanks to Grand Rapids based Artesian Distillers. Based on their website they say they are working on opening up a tasting room in Rockford. It’s a husband and wife team that started the operation. I can’t wait to see my Meijer brand Vodka, or Spartan Rum.
Magnum Coffee Roastery – This one I found purely on dumb luck. For some reason I was driving through Nunica (I know right), and smelled coffee in the air and saw this large building on the side of the road. This lead me to do some more research on Magnum Coffee Roastery, and by research I just looked up their website. Well they too offer private label brands.
Down Inc – Is a 50 year company based in Grand Rapids that produces down filled comforters and pillows for private labels. In an interesting move Down Inc. actually named some of their customers in this Grand Rapids Press article – like Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, and how they supply JW Marriott and the Amway Grand Hotels (kudos to the hotels for buying local). In a wise business decision of vertical integration – Down Inc is owned by Maple Leaf Farms – the largest producer of duck meat in the US. So now we know where all those duck feathers come from, what a perfect idea… it almost makes too much sense.
Ranir – Oral care from West Michigan. Yes, Ranir in Grand Rapids is a leading private label manufacturer of oral care products – ranging from tooth brushes, to floss, whitening products to other assorted mouth related products.
Perrigo – One of the best known companies in the region is Perrigo based in Allegan. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of OTC pharmaceutical products for the store brand markets. As a company they have been broadening their product offerings with recent acquisitions of baby formula, and pet care brand Sergeant’s. If you can be sure to check out their factory store in downtown Allegan so you can see all the store brands for yourself, side by side. Here is an image from their historical medicinal display from within the store.
Pretty interesting list, and potentially mind blowing. Especially if you were one of those people who always prefers Meijer cheese curls snacks over Spartan brand, you might be eating the exact same snack, or using the exact same toothbrush or whatever. So any other private label manufacturers out that you are aware of? Please share them with me in the comments section.