Consumer Reports Taste Tests Find Store-Brand Foods as Good as, and Sometimes Even...

Mon Aug 31, 2009 6:00pm EDT

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Consumer Reports Taste Tests Find Store-Brand Foods as Good as, and Sometimes
Even Better Than, Big Name Brands





YONKERS, N.Y., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From oatmeal cookies to
frozen broccoli, Consumer Reports blind taste tests found 23 store-brand foods
that tasted as good as, or better than, their big national brand competitors
in head-to-head tests of 29 food products.  

Consumer Reports tasters actually preferred Archer Farms Chewy Soft Baked
cookies (Target), Kirkland Signature Organic Medium Salsa (Costco), Great
Value Whipped Topping (Walmart) to similar products from Pepperidge Farm, Old
El Paso, Betty Crocker and Kraft.

"Our tests should erase any lingering doubts that store-brand packaged goods
aren't at least worth a try. In many cases, you'll save money without
compromising on quality," said Tod Marks, Sr. Project Editor, Consumer
ReportsShopping.

Consumer Reports tests also found 19 other store-brand foods that tasted just
as good--albeit a bit different-- as their name brand competitor. Duncan Hines
Family Style Chewy Fudge and Target's Market Pantry Fudge brownies, and Grey
Poupon and Publix's GreenWise Market Organic mustard are just a few items on
store shelves locked in a taste test tie.

The store-brand foods that Consumer Reports tested cost an average of 27
percent less than big-name counterparts--about as much as consumers will find
across all product categories, according to industry experts. The biggest
price difference: 35 cents per ounce for Costco's vanilla extract vs. $3.34
for McCormick's. (Prices are the averages Consumer Reports found across the
country.) 

However, Consumer Reports says the price gaps have less to do with what goes
into the package than with the research, development, and marketing costs that
help build a household name. Tasters found America's Choice (A&P) Plus
multigrain spaghetti with omega-3 at $1.59 per box to be similar to the
costlier Barilla Plus at $2.25 per box (14.5 oz for each box). Testers found
the difference to be marginal; both pastas have a mild whole-grain flavor and
are quite tasty with a nice sauce.  

"Today's store brands are not the no-frills generics folks remember from the
70s. They enjoy more prominent placement on shelves, snazzier packaging, more
promotion, and, in general, higher manufacturing standards than in years
past," Marks added.

Whatever stores are doing, it's working. In the most recent supermarket survey
by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 70 percent of respondents
said they were highly satisfied with the quality of store brands they'd
bought.

The taste tests were not a total landslide victory for store brands. Six out
of the 29 head-to-head taste tests still went in favor of the national brand.
Tasters found Ocean Spray Craisins, KC Masterpiece Original barbeque sauce,
Oscar Mayer precooked bacon, Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins
cereal, and Kellogg's Pop Tarts to be better than the store-brand challengers.


Prices will vary, but switching to store brands can be a low-risk way for
shoppers to cut their grocery bill--since many store-brand products come with
a money-back satisfaction guarantee from the store.  Consumer Reports
estimated that a family of four could save as much as $1,168 a year on dinner
by substituting just four products. For example: Great Value lasagna (Walmart)
for Stouffer's lasagna; 365 (Whole Foods) broccoli florets for Birds Eye
broccoli florets; Market Pantry (Target) brownies for Duncan Hines brownies;
and 365 (Whole Foods) vegetable juice for V8 vegetable juice.  This assumes
the family eats the same meal everyday, but Consumer Reports finds you could
reap similar savings with other substitutions.    

Complete results of the head-to-head tastes tests and additional store brand
and grocery product recommendations are available at www.ConsumerReports.org.
The October issue is on newsstands starting September 1, 2009. To subscribe,
consumers can call 1-800-234-1645. 

OCTOBER 2009
The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not
be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is
published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization
whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all
consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves.  To achieve this
mission, we test, inform, and protect.  To maintain our independence and
impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test
samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers.  Consumers
Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and
services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants. 


SOURCE  Consumer Reports

Matt Fields of Consumer Reports, +1-914-378-2454, cfields@consumer.org
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