Give More Private Label a Try, says Consumer Reports

November 1, 2010
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Consumer Reports is touting store brands again. In its latest price study, published in October, the magazine found filling a shopping cart with store brands saves an average of 30 percent. For a family spending $100 a week on groceries, it adds up to savings of more than $1,500 annually.
To compare store brand and national brand prices, Consumer Reports visited five supermarket chains -A&P, Pathmark, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, and Walmart - in New York and New Jersey and compared store and name brand prices for 30 items, from cotton swabs to pepper. The average savings with store brands is 30 percent, says an analysis in the October issue of Consumer Reports.  
Shoppers shouldn’t be reluctant to give any private-label product a try, Consumer Reports says. After all, the analysis notes, some of the same companies manufacture both. Among 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 (light bulbs), Manischewitz (frozen appetizers, soup mixes, side dishes), Joy Cone (ice cream cones), Stonewall Kitchen (gourmet condiments, specialty foods), and Royal Oak (charcoal).

Two store brands fared relatively poorly in the Consumer Reports taste tests: 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.

The Shoppers Value peanut butter has off-notes (raw-nut flavor) and a hint of bitterness, probably from peanut skins. Consumer Reports says.

Some shoppers are still reluctant to try store-brand products, Consumer Reports notes. Although they snap up store-brand paper goods and plastics, at least half of survey respondents rarely or never buy store-brand wine, pet food, soda, or soup. The top reasons from its 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 are particularly likely to question the quality of store brands, the magazine discovered.

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