ROCKVILLE, MD. — The emergence of such brands as Kroger’s Simple Truth, Supervalu’s Wild Harvest and Aldi’s Simply Nature highlight how the private label category is evolving. Manufacturers and retailers have tried to address consumer concerns about wellness and nutrition with more affordable healthy food options, and several retailers have built private label brands around a position of affordable healthy eating.

“Store brands have moved far beyond cheap generic knock-offs to become trusted, quality lines that can compete effectively with national brands,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts. “They usually have higher profit margins for retailers than name brands, help differentiate a retailer from competition, and help build consumer loyalty.”

Private label accounted for almost a fifth of the $530 billion total food and beverage market dollar sales in 2013. In its report “Private label foods & beverages in the U.S., 8h edition,” Packaged Facts estimated retail dollar sales of private label food and beverages were $102 billion in 2013, up about 2%. Food products accounted for approximately 80% of the private label segment’s sales.

Looking ahead, the market research firm projects retail dollar sales of private label food and beverages will grow by a compound annual growth rate of 4% and reach $122 billion in 2018. The increase is due in part to the segment’s attractiveness to consumers seeking to eat healthy on a budget. Sales of private label food are expected to reach $98 billion.

Natural and organic private label brands have been around for a number of years led by Safeway’s O Organics, Stop & Shop and Giant’s Nature’s Promise, Food Lion and Hannaford’s Nature’s Place, and Supervalu’s Wild Harvest. The brands continue to expand and update with a focus on healthy product attributes.

Other retailers have evolved natural and organic positions to more modern wellness brands that shift focus from product attributes to lifestyle enhancement. Kroger’s Simple Truth, Target’s Simply Balanced, and Aldi’s Simply Nature all attempt to provide consumers with solutions for taking care of themselves and their families. The brands cross many food and beverage categories with affordable, nutritious products that are natural or organic, and free of artificial ingredients. Kroger has invested heavily to build Simple Truth and the company stated in the first quarter of 2014 it expected the brand to reach $1 billion in sales this year.