Albertsons Cos. strengthened its own brand portfolio with an infusion of ice cream varieties in time for summer.

The grocer launched its first premium private label, Signature Reserve, with an initial focus on the frozen treat. The brand's seven SKUs use globally sourced ingredients for flavors including "Brazilian guava cheesecake," "Madagascar vanilla," "bourbon maple blondie" and "Indian cardamom pistachio."

Albertsons also added two new ice cream lines to existing private label Open Nature and new flavors to its O Organics line. The grocer bolstered Open Nature's lineup with seven flavors under a low-fat ice cream line dubbed Scandal-Less and seven under a vegan line identified as non-dairy frozen dessert made with either almond or cashew milk. It also gave O Organics seven new ice cream flavors made with real cream, milk, butter and all USDA-certified organic ingredients including “tea and biscuit,” “mochaccino” and “chocolate extreme moose tracks.” Neither brand is completely new to the ice cream game; Open Nature already offers a small assortment of sorbet and gelato, while O Organics offers a few flavors and ice cream bars.

Chains including Jewel-Osco, Safeway and Albertsons quietly debuted the new ice cream SKUs as early as two months before the company officially announced Signature Reserve’s nationwide rollout on May 31. Safeway’s April 4 Big Book of Savings spotlighted the additions with a page dedicated to “new & exclusive” ice cream. Since then, the SKUs have been promoted in a wealth of chain circulars and Big Book of Savings editions.

In stores, freezer shelf talkers and sampling events supported. At least one Jewel-Osco location stocked the new Open Nature ice cream SKUs in an endcap freezer outfitted with clings reading “New Wow” and “New at Jewel Open Nature Scandal-Less Ice Cream.”

Safeway and some other chains also offered various digital coupons for the new SKUs via the Just For U personalized loyalty program (which will fully replace the MyMixx digital coupon program retailer-wide by September).

Online support spanned Facebook, Twitter and Instagram updates from chains including Jewel-Osco, Randalls, Acme and Safeway. Chains such as Tom Thumb and Randalls tied the launches in to the designation of June 7 as "National Chocolate Ice Cream Day" with June 4 and 7 Facebook and Instagram updates. Radio spots rounded out the effort.

Albertsons plans to expand Signature Reserve to more categories throughout 2018, including pasta and pasta sauces imported from Italy, single-origin packaged coffees from Sumatra and Nicaragua, and four varieties of hand-picked loose leaf tea.

Collectively, the grocer’s own brands make up $11.5 billion of its $60 billion in annual sales, with four brands (Lucerne, O Organics, Signature Select and Signature Cafe) already at the $1 billion mark. In the aforementioned Albertsons and Rite Aid analysts' presentation, Albertsons stated that strengthening its own brand portfolio and providing compelling product offerings are two of its core initiatives. The grocer’s portfolio includes over 11,000 SKUs in over 500 categories with plans to broaden its breadth even further throughout the year, mainly with its natural and organic lines Open Nature and O Organics.

According to Food Dive, private-label products now account for one in every five items sold in U.S. supermarkets, and that ratio is expected to grow in the coming years as retailers continue to focus on expansion and innovation.