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Private Label Products Will Slash 25% Off Your Grocery Bill

Published

Angela Colley, dealnews contributor

Once upon a time, consumers seemed to care deeply about whether their kitchen cabinets were filled with familiar names and food mascots. But these days, are you any more likely to prefer Kellogg's over cereal from Target?

According to Deloitte's 2013 American Pantry Study, it appears as if the cachet of a major, recognizable brand name is losing its significance for shoppers. Out of more than 4,000 participants, 88% said that they believe "private label" brands (sometimes known as generic) are just as good as their national brand counterparts, while 70% didn't feel buying a private label brand was a sacrifice. And even more surprising, only 27% of respondents said they planned on buying national brands more if the economy improved.

So while the old standbys like Coca-Cola, Folgers, and Yoplait may be winning fancy awards, private label brands are becoming more popular with the everyday consumer. (Perhaps that's why major brands have been getting more inventive with their marketing.) In fact, the very term "private label" seems to imply a greater level of acceptance, since it's a far cry from the penny-pinching connotation of "generic."

Private Label Products Save Money, Often Taste the Same

Of course, private label brands have a few advantages — like price. According to Consumer Reports, store brands are 25% cheaper on average than national brands, which can mean big savings on your household and grocery bills. For example, if you typically spend $120 a week at the grocery store, you'd save $30 buying generic. Over the course of a year, you'd save $1,440.

Taste and quality might also be a factor. Not so long ago consumers equated store brand with adjectives like stale, tasteless, or cheap. Now, that's less likely to be the case. Consumer Reports tested 19 different private label brands against national brands. Ten private label brands tied for taste and quality with the national brand, and in one case it even beat out the national brand. For example, Consumer Reports had a hard time telling Chobani Greek yogurt and Winn Dixie's brand apart. The testers found that Costco's Kirkland Signature walnuts and the Diamond brand were "basically interchangeable." And for cheese crackers, Sunshine might have a hint of sour cream, but Dollar General's Clover Valley brand is basically the same thing.

Of course, that isn't always the case. Not all private label brands stacked up to national brands in Consumer Reports' test. Bush's baked beans had a slightly smoky, slightly sweet taste while Consumer Reports said Food Lion's brand had a "harsh, ashy artificial smoke flavor" and a bitter, "metallic off-note." Tropicana beat out Walgreens' Nice! brand in the orange juice category, and Kroger's Private Selection cookie-dough ice cream had an artificial taste and small-sized cookie-dough bits that didn't compare to Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream.

Still, the savings you'll get on private label brands make them hard to pass up. For example, the above study shows that Chobani Greek yogurt retails for $1.31 per serving while Winn Dixie's Greek yogurt only costs $1.09 per serving, a savings of $0.22. Meanwhile, Diamond walnuts cost $0.52 per serving, or almost twice as much as the generic option.

What Are the Best Private Label Brands?

For value and taste though, some store brands are better than others. While Consumer Reports approved of several brands, there are dozens that remain untested, like CVS Pharmacy's Gold Emblem or Total Home, Target's Archer Farms, or Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value. Readers, what are your favorite private label brands? Which do you think are just as good as the national counterpart? Are there any that are flat out better?


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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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5 comments
basel777
In the Midwest, we have Hy-vee, and my family believes that this private label is the best "generic" brand we've ever had.
silex
Trader Joes is nice somehow a weeks food there for me and my wife is never more than 50$. But in your regular big box retailers (stopnshop shoprite giant) the store brand on most products is perfect. In fact I found out that some of their store brands are actually made by the name brand companies. Just to a "lesser" standard of cost cutting. Which a family member who was in that field said ... Usually its the make that didn't pass their Explicit branding standard. One electronics company I worked for who "sells" their lcd's and Plasma screens to a "low" brand competitor when the screen does not meet their specific standard.

I don't swear by name brand or store brand. I always say try both. Only 2 times have I stuck with my name brands. Chicken (Purdue) and Pasta (Ronzoni) simply because I find their quality and other attributes to be more to my liking. Pasta is the weirder one, Simply all the store brands were too think or too thick, and the other brand Barilla was too thick.
jaspers
I agree, Aldi. Save instantly if you like natural foods go to its sibling Trader Joes (cheaper than whole foods).

First time in the Aldi store may be confusing, here are the basics: bring your own bags, bring a quarter for a cart (you'll get it back), credit cards or checks are NOT accepted.

We go there for staples mostly, but I love their versions of Bahlsen cookies(special item) and Nutella ($2.19). At 1/2 the price, I can't tell the difference. Their cheese tastes great ($1.79 for 8 oz). Their cereals are great ($1.79-$2.19), we like their "fit-and-active with red berries" (special K with red berries). Their crackers and snacks are 1/2 the price of Frito-Lay equivalents and taste great. Oh yeah, they have awesome hummus too.

PS. In contrast Kroger's attempt at Nutella is runny and I was not impressed.
TheOracle
I like Aldi's foods. Pretty much everything is just as good, or better. I also like most of Kroger's items too. I like Aldi's prices tho, even if I do have to bring my own bags & stick a quarter in to get a cart!
bilboBagit
I like both Target's Archer Farms and Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value products. CVS brand not so much. I used to work at an HEB supermarket in Texas and they told us some or most of the HEB store-branded items were made and packaged by the brand names, so the item inside the package was the same.
I've found some generic cereals are really low quality, but those are usually the ones that aren't even the store brand either, just some cheap brand imitation
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