Although frozen pizza sales declined slightly this past year, according to data from the SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago, IL-based market research firm, private label products performed well. With nearly 11% market share, private label’s dollar sales jumped 14.5% for the 52 weeks ending March 18 — a huge increase — while unit sales increased 9.8%. This means stores received $0.11 more per unit than the previous year.

Store brand pizzas’ average unit price is $2.59, which was the third lowest among Top 10 brands. Totino’s Party Pizza ($1.32) from General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, and Tony’s ($2.01) from Schwan’s Consumer Brands, Inc., Bloomington, MN, are less expensive per pizza. Retail outlets offer a variety of different private label frozen pizzas, from value to premium, high-quality pizzas.

David Browne, senior analyst, Mintel, Chicago, IL, pointed out that private label sales have fluctuated dramatically in recent years, with growth in 2009 but declines in 2010. Also, he noted, private label products generally don’t do as well in frozen meal categories because consumers are more cautious about purchasing store brands for products that are going to serve as the focal point for either lunch or dinner.

Although Mr. Browne wasn’t certain what led to private label’s strong growth in frozen pizza during the past year, he suggested that some retailer could have made a bigger play or added new lines, which could account for some of the growth.

And while some consumers may hold back from buying private label pizza, he observed that some retail outlets such as Trader Joe’s offer high-quality private label pizza. ‘It’s as good as a lot of name brands,” Mr. Browne added.