Taste Test: Store Brands vs. Name Brands

[deleted account] ( 18 moms have responded )

Any smart supermarket shopper knows that buying store-brand products instead of big names can save big bucks. In our latest price study, filling a shopping cart with store brands saved us an average of 30 percent. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, those savings add up to more than $1,500 a year.

Yet some shoppers are still reluctant to try store-brand products. The top reasons from our recent nationally representative survey: "I prefer name brands," "The name brand tastes better," and "I don't know if store brands are as high in quality." Respondents 18 to 39 years old were particularly likely to question the quality of store brands.

Shoppers are quite leery of some categories. Although they'll snap up store-brand paper goods and plastics, at least half of our survey respondents rarely or never buy store-brand wine, pet food, soda, or soup. That may be especially true when the category includes a name-brand superstar such as Coca-Cola or Campbell's.

The message from our latest taste-off: Don't be reluctant to give any private-label product a try. In fact, our results may knock some of those iconic brands off their pedestals. Albertsons peanut butter was similar in quality to Skippy; Target's Market Pantry ketchup was as good as Heinz.

Overall, national brands won seven of the 21 matchups and store brands won three. For the rest, the store brand and name brand were of similar quality. A tie doesn't mean the taste was identical. Two products may be equally fresh and flavorful, with ingredients of similar quality, but taste very different because ingredients or seasonings differ. A case in point is ketchup. In Heinz, the spices stand out; Market Pantry is more tomatoey.

Although 17 percent of our survey respondents said that "name-brand foods are more nutritious," we found nutrition similar for most of the tested products. The most notable differences: Mott's applesauce has more sugar than Publix, Ore-Ida fries have more sodium than Jewel, and Kellogg's Froot Loops have 3 grams of fiber vs. 1 gram in Stop & Shop Fruit Swirls.

There's no reason store brands shouldn't hold their own against the big boys. After all, some of the same companies manufacture both. Among the big names that also make store-brand products: Sara Lee (baked goods), Reynolds (wraps, storage containers), 4C (bread crumbs, iced tea, soup mixes), McCormick (seasonings, extracts, sauces, gravies), Feit (lightbulbs), Manischewitz (frozen appetizers, soup mixes, side dishes), Joy Cone (ice cream cones), Stonewall Kitchen (gourmet condiments, specialty foods), and Royal Oak (charcoal).

Two examples of a different type of store brand—"second tier" brands, which may cost even less—fared worse in our tests. We tasted second-tier Kroger Value Sandwich Singles Imitation Pasteurized Process Cheese Food and Shoppers Value creamy peanut butter, bought at Albertsons. Testers said the Kroger faux cheese is inferior to Kraft and regular Kroger singles. It's salty and chalky, with the artificial-butter aroma common in microwavable popcorn. The Shoppers Value peanut butter is so-so, with off-notes (raw-nut flavor) and a bit of bitterness, probably from peanut skins. Those flaws were noticeable even when the peanut butter was spread on bread. Many chains sell second-tier brands, including A&P (under the names Savings Plus and Smart Price), Safeway (Basic Red), Stop & Shop (Guaranteed Value), and Food Lion (Smart Option).

Bottom line
Almost any store-brand product is worth a try. There's little risk: Most grocers offer a money-back guarantee if their products don't meet your expectations. (National brands often give unsatisfied buyers coupons, but the process might take a while.) And there's plenty of opportunity for reward. "The secret's out," says Lisa Rider, vice president of retail consulting solutions for Nielsen, the marketing-information company. "Store brands are just as good. Store-brand buyers are no longer seen as cheapskates but as savvy shoppers."

http://shopping.yahoo.com/articles/yshop...

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18 Comments

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[deleted account]

PS I bought Heinz Organic Triple Quality Tested Baby Food - and found a dead ant in it. They sent me back coupons for more to compensate. Hmm...

[deleted account]

When I check the content, the store brand is often much higher in salt and sugar, despite the same '25% less salt' type logo - especially with soups. I try to weigh cost wtih quality.

[deleted account]

I buy store brand where appropriate. Some of the store brand things are really good quality and others not so much. When they are not as good i will buy name brand.
I'm in the dark on this Nestle thing?????

[deleted account]

I think we end up buying more name brands than store brands. We've had bad experiences with store brand tinned tomatoes so I tend to shy away now from tinned store brands. But I would use store brand milk or sugar etc etc. I am a person who gets a bit stuck in my ways sometimes, so I must admit I'm brand loyal. I just like knowing what I'm buying. We try to buy mostly fresh anyways so our 'middle of the store' purchases are few.

Amy - posted on 09/08/2010

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We buy things that are on sale, sometimes the store brand is more expensive than the sale price of a non-store brand.

For as long as I can remember the majority of things we buy store brand. From time to time we'll find some store brands are horrible, and others are great. We just remember which store brands are bad and avoid them.

[deleted account]

Their actions in Africa were appalling, but their actions everywhere are obscene. Greed and no humanity.

Charlie - posted on 09/08/2010

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Boycott Nestle !!

Kathy i had to supplement feed Harry for a week until my milk came in my fiance very seriously asked the midwife " What brand is this formula ?"
she replied "S26 , why "
and he said " because i will not support Nestle i would rather run down the shops and get a different brand because what they have done in Africa is disgusting !"

She had the biggest smile on her face and said "dont worry we dont support them either , hes a keeper !"

I was stunned i didnt know he was so passionate about breastfeeding let alone what types of formula were appropriate , i was so proud of him :D

[deleted account]

I'm a fanatical small-print reader! Not only do I read the contents of the product, I also note the place of origin and place of manufacture.
Like Loureen, I try to keep up with local companies and their owners and offshoots. That's pretty time-consuming, and I can only do it because I don't have any small children!
I try to avoid Nestle at any costs, and always have done so.

Charlie - posted on 09/07/2010

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At our local grocer there is nothing like this but we do have a chain supermarket in town that does follow this practice , i guess it comes down to each store but generally all the biggest chains in Australia Coles and Woolworths do this .

Sherri - posted on 09/07/2010

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Oh I don't find that here at all actually? Hmmm I will have to really look in the next few days when we do our shopping.

Charlie - posted on 09/07/2010

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We have much the same for example a large cheese company like Bega cheese will be placed next to the generic brand on the eye level shelf but a small family company cheese will be placed top or bottom shelf with higher prices until the company is barely sustainable , this is when they buy out the company to supply their generic version .

The tactic of placing their generic version next to the popular big name version is because people generally only look for brand or dollars saved , placing them apart allows the customer to scan all other brands and the less brands they have to compete with the better for their sales .

Sherri - posted on 09/07/2010

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Our store brands are for lets say froot loops for example the store brand is right next to it. So you will always find the generics next to the name brand counter part.

Charlie - posted on 09/07/2010

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Store brands were previously smaller buisnesses that giant chains bully out of sales by strategic sales plans like placing them on lower shelves with higher prices ect .
These companies are put in a position where their only option is to sell to the chains as their store brand to make any profit .

Is it the same product ? yes .

But i do not support the bully tactics that are used to make their brand , Its ethically void .

[deleted account]

For some things the national brand does taste better. I base my purchases on health though. For the most part, store brand is as good on that front. Though sometimes I can get national brand with a coupon cheaper than store brand.

[deleted account]

My bottom line is always, where is theproduct made? I try to support Australian-made where possible.

Sherri - posted on 09/07/2010

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I only buy store brands unless I can't get it in a store brand. I can't afford the name brand stuff. However, we are trying to completely switch over to organic and unfortunately there just not as many options when you go this route.

Lyndsay - posted on 09/07/2010

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I always buy store brands, and sometimes I even prefer them to the big-names. Example, I like President's Choice cola far more than Coca-cola. There are some products where I prefer name brands, such as diapers, but for the most part I think the store brands are just as good.

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