Store-Brand Foods That Save You Money Without Sacrificing Taste

Store-Brand Foods That Save You Money Without Sacrificing Taste

If you take a pass on generic brands at the supermarket in favour of brand name foods, Consumer Reports’ comparison test might interest you. Turns out there’s often very little difference between the two in taste or quality.

Photo by The Consumerist.

Consumer Reports ran a blind taste-test on several types of generic and brand name foods and discovered, perhaps unsurprisingly to many, there’s typically a marginal difference between them. In fact, in some cases, the store brand was better than the name brand.

For instance, Kirkland’s salsa rated better with food tasters than Old El Paso’s similar chip dip, and Walmart’s au gratin potatoes won out over Betty Crocker’s spuds. It’s not always a total win, of course. Comparisons between brownie mixes and frozen lasagnas resulted in a tie, while Publix generic-brand barbecue sauce tanked next to the much-preferred K.C. Masterpiece name brand. (While those brands aren’t available in Australia, of course, the principle is still worth noting.)

The taste-test results are great news for those of us trying to squeeze value out of every dollar, since buying generic can really save you some cash at the grocery store.

[T] he store-brand foods we tested cost an average of 27 percent less than big-name counterparts — about what you’d find across all product categories, industry experts told us. The biggest difference: 35 cents per ounce for Costco’s vanilla vs. $US3.34 for McCormick’s. (Prices are the averages we found across the country.) Price gaps have less to do with what goes into the package than with the research, development, and marketing costs that help build a household name.

If you’re new to supermarket brands, start off with simple items like condiments or canned vegetables and see what you think. If you like them, then give boxed meals and prepackaged dinners a try next. What generic products do you use regularly (ketchup? rice?) — and what name brand foods will you never give up? Share what you like in the comments.

National Brands: Which Taste Better? [Yahoo]


  • I’ve been buying a lot of Canned Tuna lately, i find that Safeway Select Tuna (in brine) is the beast, all the others (Home brand, Black and gold, the cheaper safeway one) aren’t as nice. But the cost of tuna is ridiculous (~$17 a kilo is i recall). Safeway Select may not be as good as john west, but at under half the cost of JW its my choice.

    As for cheaper brands tasting better, i always get MiGoreng noodles, cause since Maggi changed their recipe they taste horrible and MiGoreng is delish and cheaper.

    I get store brand frozen peas, you get the odd bit of pea pod skin in there but its easy to take out if you don’t want it.

    I also get store brand Tinned baked beans and spaghetti. As well as store brand processed cheese slices (at least half the cost of kraft), and the amount of cheese that i eat, i can’t afford the ripoff of mainstream cheese (yeh some people say that stuff isnt cheese, i dont care its tastes good enough for the price).

    I tried the home brand ham and chicken log as it was MUCH cheaper than stras, but it was quite gritty, somtimes seemed like i had chipped a tooth, maybe they need to grind the pig bones a bit better in that product.

      • Oh yeh im too used to Safeway when i should be calling it Woolworths now.

        On the NO added salt, i guess thats a problem if your watching your sodium intake, but i cant stand the salt reduced stuff, it tastes terrible, i got salt reduced tomato sauce once and i nearly vomited, the bottle went straight to the bin.

  • home brand wheat biscuits taste like (expensive) weetbix and better than (cheaper than weetbix) vitabrits.

    stay away from home brand ‘mite’, ‘nutella’ and some other spreads.

    “You’ll love Coles” and “Woolworths” brands are a good compromise, often decent quality, and cheaper than the main brands.

  • In some cases the “Brand Name” goods are also the “store Brand” good in a different package. e.g. Coles branded Tomato Juice and Berri branded Tomato Juice taste the same, have the same ingedients and the same dietry label (sugars, fats and salts, etc.)
    If it is not the case they are the same, then they are using the same recipie.

    • I heard the rumor years ago that this was the case, that the store brand actually was the leading market brand just relabeled, in a way it makes sense, they capture the people that pay for quality, and the budget conscious that way.

  • Also forgot to say i always get Woolworths milk only once have we had to take some back because it was 1 week before expiry and it tasted and smelled awful yet its brother that was had a use by date of the previous day was fine. Woolies swapped it no questions asked.

    Also my tip for buying the brands, is to compare the nutritional info, if the home brand has too much extra fat/calories/salt etc than i feel comfortable with for the price saving, ill go more expensive brand.

    And i also get sliced ham at the deli section instead of hans or don pre-packaged, as its half the price, or i get a slab of ham as it lasts longer (quality wise) and costs around the same.

    • “if the home brand has too much extra fat/calories/salt etc than i feel comfortable with for the price saving, ill go more expensive brand”

      This is also my reason for deviating towards non-generic brands. Even though cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean poorer quality, I can’t help but feel that you get what you pay for.

      • Its rare, 90% of the stuff i buy is probably no (or negligibly) worse for you than the name brand. But the odd occasion the home brand can have a lot more fat/undesirables in it (although i have noticed the same can be said in reverse as well on some items).

  • A tip when buying cans of salmon: look at the embossing on the metal lid. You will find that store brands and the leading brands (you know the one, “rejects the rest….!”)have similar if not the same packaging codes. This is because, I believe, there are only four canneries in the world canning salmon. They just paste what ever label is required by the purchaser on the cans, and then carry on with the next order from a different purchaser.

    • The principle sounds sensible, but given that a bit of Google searching turned up three separate canneries operated by one owner just in Alaska, I doubt the four canneries worldwide figure is accurate.

  • Kirkland is the Costco house brand, which is now available in Melbourne at the Docklands Costco.

    I have to say, though, that I bought a 1kg jar of Kirkland Salsa for a party I was throwing, and it was about as tasty a Mexican dish as you’d imagine something named “Kirkland” to be. I’ll take Doritos over Kirkland any day (and even that’s just meh).

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