LONDON: Private-label product launches outnumbered branded equivalents in the UK food and beverage category last year, according to new figures.

According to Mintel, the insights provider, retailer-owned ranges yielded 54% of all new product development in these sectors in 2011, versus 46% for national brands.

Such figures marked a reversal from 2010, when specialist manufacturers held a 55% share on this metric, and store brands logged 45%.

Moreover, Mintel found 57% of consumers now think own-label lines have "improved in taste and quality", and 52% agreed they had a superior flavour on at least some occasions.

Elsewhere, 58% of the company's panel stated manufacturer brands were the only viable option in certain segments, a trend that is especially pronounced at the premium end of the spectrum.

Among the other differences noted by the firm was that 82% of shoppers believe products made directly by retailers offer value for money, falling to 16% when discussing those from their suppliers.

Currently, some 69% of shoppers buy economy level store brands in the food and drink sector, with only 6% of this group intending to do so less often in the next 12 months, and 18% anticipating buying more.

The premium alternatives have also achieved a penetration 71%, and 27% of all customers plan to raise purchase rates in 2012, with 12% making a reduction.

National brands outperformed own-label rivals in some fields, including such as trustworthiness, where they scored 52%, being traditional, on 51% and authenticity, on 44%. The opposite was true for being family-friendly, as private label lines pulled ahead on 45%.

Overall, Mintel reported that sales of own-label food and beverage lines reached £37bn in 2011, a 24% expansion since 2006, during which time the market as a whole grew 23%. The firm predicted that store brands would yield revenues of £46bn by 2016.

"Retailers are appearing to put greater weight behind their own-label ranges," said Chris Wisson, senior food analyst at Mintel. "More comprehensive ranges, product improvements and even range relaunches have all put greater pressure on food and drink brands."

Data sourced from Mintel; additional content by Warc staff