Do Generic Products Taste Better? — Supermarket Savvy
Earlier this year, I wrote about the results of a Consumer Reports grocery shopping test, which found that shoppers saved the most when purchasing store brands.
But there was one big drawback to the study: it didn’t report whether those store brands actually taste any good. I’ve found very good store-brand products, but I’ve also ended up with terrible ones — recently, a hot cocoa mix I tried didn’t even taste chocolatey.
So Consumer Reports ran another test: a taste-off. “Sensory experts” did blind comparisons of 19 items. While only one store-brand item emerged an undisputed winner, ten products got tie scores (and eight name-brand products won). The results …
Store-Brand Winner: Chicken broth from Giant/Eagle (beat Swanson). Tasters liked its true, unprocessed flavor.
The Ten Ties:
• Peanut butter
• Cranberry juice
• Cottage cheese
• Cheese crackers
• Greek yogurt
• Ranch dressing
• Wheat bread
• Chewy granola bars
Only two of those items, the Greek yogurt and the walnuts, were found to be “interchangeable,” but the others were all deemed equally palatable.
The Name-Brand Winners:
• Kellogg’s granola
• Bush’s baked beans
• Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
• Quaker oats
• Birds Eye frozen vegetables
• Stouffer’s lasagna
• Soy Dream soymilk
• Tropicana orange juice.
Tasters had many complaints about the flavors and qualities of the store-brand alternatives for these products.
To me, the take-away here is simple: try store brands! Only one may have bested the competition in the Consumer Reports taste-off, but with 11 out of 19 items ranked as a tie or better, your odds of finding a less-expensive alternative to name brands are pretty good. Find the store brands that work for your own taste. Keep in mind, however, that you can get many name-brand products for less than store brands if you match coupons to sales and stock up, and as Consumer Reports points out, product suppliers change without notice, so don’t assume a store brand will always taste the same.
Shop smart and save! Check out more tips on couponing and savvy shopping!