Grocery store brands tested against national brands


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," said Tod Marks with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports taste-tested 57 store-brand foods from major retailers - Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, 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," said Marks.

However, Target's Market Pantry Ketchup tasted similar to Heinz. The mayonnaise from Whole Foods, Target, Costco and Wal-Mart, while different from Hellmann's, was just as good quality.

There was also good news for die-hard Breyers ice cream fans.

"Wal-Mart's Great Value Vanilla Ice Cream came pretty close to Breyers, and not only that, it costs a third less," Marks said.

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, you don't have anything to lose and you could save plenty.

Interesting to note, 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.

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