Store brand foods vs. name brand: How does the quality, taste stack up?

September 2, 2013 3:52:03 PM PDT
Saving money at the supermarket is no easy feat, but buying store brands can help.

"Buying store brands can save you a small fortune. Anywhere from 15 to 30 percent on average, depending on the category," Tod Marks with Consumer Reports said.

In the grocery store, you'll find more store brands than ever these days. In fact one in four products on the shelf is a store brand. Consumer Reports just taste-tested 57 store-brand foods from five major retailers -- Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Kmart and Target, plus Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

It turns out 33 of the 57 store brands proved as high quality as the national brands, though they're not necessarily identical.

"When we evaluate a store brand and say it's as good as a national brand, that doesn't mean it's a dead ringer in terms of the flavor. The fact is products can be equally high in quality but maybe the store brand has different seasonings or spices," Marks said.

However, Target's Market Pantry ketchup tasted similar to Heinz.

The mayo from Whole Foods, Target, Costco and Walmart, while different from Hellmann's, was just as good quality.

And listen up, Breyer's ice cream fans:

"Walmart's Great Value vanilla ice cream came pretty close to Breyer's. And not only that, it costs a third less," Marks said.

And when it comes to nuts, store brands are the way to go. Consumer Reports' taste tests of cashews showed all seven of the store brands were actually better than the national brand, Emerald.

Considering many stores will refund your money if you don't like a store brand, what do you have to lose? And you could save plenty.

But there's something we should point out: store brands are not always a bargain. Consumer Reports found five out of the 10 store brands from Whole Foods actually cost more than the national brand.

Find Patricia on Facebook at ABC13PatriciaLopez or on Twitter at @patricialopez13


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