When you stand in front of a grocery store shelf, you’ll likely find a name-brand can of peas right next to one with the store’s name on it.
You might be tempted to go for the better-known brand – you know, the one you’ve seen on commercials – thinking it offers better quality than the store brand or that the 20% cost savings isn’t worth the risk that the taste isn’t the same. But you might want to think again.
Inflation has eased, but high prices still likely have you saving where you can. And one money-saving method to consider is shopping store brands, which are usually cheaper than name brands.
Money-conscious shoppers have recently adding more store-brand products to their shopping carts. In 2022, store brand sales rose 11.3% across product categories, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association.
Some of you aren’t convinced. A Consumer Reports survey from 2022 found that 43% of shoppers said they buy store brands occasionally or not at all, with some citing concerns over taste and others saying the price is not that different from name-brand products.
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Here’s what you need to know about shopping store brand products.
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What are examples of store brands?
Store brands, also known as private labels, refer to products that carry the retailer’s name and are meant to compete with name-brand goods.
Some examples of store brands include Costco’s Kirkland Signature, Walmart’s Great Value, Whole Foods’ 365, and Trader Joe’s eponymous label. Grocery stores, like Kroger, also have store brands.
You can find a wide range of store brand products, from condiments to nuts to soup to yogurt to bread and frozen vegetables.
How much cheaper are store brands?
Store brands are typically cheaper than name-brand products. But even if the price difference between the store and the name brand is just a few cents, the pennies add up in the long run, said Amy Keating, a registered dietitian at Consumer Reports.
A Consumer Reports test, for instance, found that shoppers can save more than 60% when they buy store-brand ketchup rather than the name brand, Keating said.
“We found the biggest savings were at Costco, Aldi and Walmart— all about 50% less than the store brand on average,” Keating said, adding that Whole Foods had the least savings.
Do store brands taste the same?
Many store brands taste just as good as (and sometimes even better than) the name brand, according to the Consumer Reports test of 70 products across different categories.
“They’re comparable,” Keating said. “You’re not gonna find much difference in flavor or ingredient listings or nutrition.”
Compare prices, labels if you’re unsure
Shoppers should feel confident in trying store brands, Keating said.
If you want to know just how much you’re saving when choosing a store brand, compare the unit price (the price per ounce or pound) of both items. And if you’re concerned about the nutritional value of the store brand product, look at the nutrient label for things like added sugar and sodium, Keating said.
“Take the name brand that you’re accustomed to and walk over to where the store brand is and just do a quick glance at the nutrition facts to make sure there aren’t any negative trade-offs in terms of nutrition,” Keating said.