Treehouse Foods' best-known brand may be Cremora, but the nondairy coffee creamer is not the main reason its stock is one of 2008's few gainers.

Treehouse Foods’ best-known brand may be Cremora, but the nondairy coffee creamer is not the main reason its stock is one of 2008’s few gainers.

The company is one of the biggest players in private-label soups and other food categories — products that are gaining favor among shoppers in the economic downturn.

Such goods are sold under the store’s brands. Treehouse Foods says private-label sales are growing twice as fast as those of more expensive national brands.

More than 90 percent of Treehouse Foods’ sales are private label, President David Vermylen said at a recent analyst conference.

And it’s made several acquisitions in recent years to build that business.

The company, which began in 2005 after it was spun off from Dean Foods, focused on pickles and nondairy creamer. Treehouse Foods says it’s the biggest manufacturer of those two products in the United States. Since then, though, it’s bought makers of private-label soups, salad dressings and other products.