Name brands vs. store brands

September 21, 2010 8:51:16 PM PDT
It's no secret that supermarket store brands can save you money. A just-released Consumer Reports survey finds that plenty of people are buying them. Still, some people are reluctant to swap out their favorite name brands.

Consumer Reports' taste testers pitted 21 store brands against big-name brands for staples such as orange juice, soup, and peanut butter. Out of 21 head-to-head matchups, the store brands won outright three times. Eleven times, it was a tie. So store brands are a good bet.

Walmart's Great Value Original Potato Chips tied with Lay's Classic Potato Chips. Both have a nice balance of real potato flavor, fat, and saltiness. And Target's Market Pantry Ketchup tied with Heinz Ketchup. But while they're similar in quality, that doesn't mean they taste the same. The Market Pantry was very "tomatoey." The Heinz was spicier.

But you can skip Target's Market Pantry Chunk Light Tuna. The product exhibited some off-notes and varied in quality from lot to lot. Bumble Bee's Chunk Light Tuna was far better in the taste tests.

But on the whole, Consumer Reports finds store brands are worth a try. Like national brands, store-brand manufacturers and retailers stand behind their products. If you're not satisfied for any reason, you can simply bring back the product for a refund.

Consumer Reports says there isn't any reason a store brand can't hold its own against a national brand. After all, some of the companies that make the national-brand products are one in the same with those that make the store brands.

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