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I hate private labels.

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Went today to Trader Joe's, hoping to get Strauss' organic yogurt.
All I could find was row after row of TJ's branded stuff.
And Costco sells Kirkland branded Bordeaux wine.
And WF is overflowing with their own 365 crap.
Sorry folks, but I'm not going with the flow.
Whenever I buy something, I want to know who made it.
I trust the Strauss', not the corporate buyers that only look after increased profits at the end of the quarter.
Needless to say, I walked out of TJ with no purchase.

Is it just me?

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  1. Ric
    Many times, 'house brand' products are produced by very well known names, but mass purchased at a discount and packaged by the discount store. Make sure to read the labels carefully to see of it's in the fine print. I have often found house brands to be as good, and often better than the more expensive known brand.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      I agree with Tay -- the house brand of MANY items is usually just as good as the "name" brands in these situations. As, as we've discovered in another recent thread, if you dont like it, TJs will take it back without a ruckus. Also, sometimes if you ask (nicely) , they WILL carry a certain item or brand for you.

      1. re: Cheflambo

        Using Straus as an example, in Northern California (at least), the "cream top" organic milk with the TJ's label is actually Straus. Generally what happens is that the producer contracts for a lower price in exchange for having a guaranteed quantity of sales, but doesn't put their own label on it to protect the pricing of their brand-labeled product (which is why such agreements are usually confidential).

      2. re: Tay

        I totally agree, the h*ll with overpriced top brand names just because. Most of the smaller stores and chains are produced by the same company just with a different lable. Sometimes I have found them to be better. I don't fall for brand labels. It is all marketing nothing more. Not just with food but with anything you buy. Try working in these companies and you would quickly learn how pure, clean and what they really are. I did for two years and I know who they sold to and what happens. Now ... I just buy what I like not what the label is. To me taste is more important to me.

      3. Since you trust them so much, you should know it's "Straus" (only one "s"). And though I can't speak for everyone, I have no problem with private labels generally. It really depends on the label: if I trust the retailer's quality control (as I do Costco and TJ's), then I trust their labels. Although this is not the case with a producer like Straus, for some products I'm glad to know that the producer has a company like Costco looking over its shoulder and imposing external quality standards (and discontinuing the relationship with the producer if standards aren't met, which is a big incentive to keep them on track).

        1. Huh. What makes you think brand names are somehow more trustworthy than TJ's or Costco? Do you really "know" who made a product just because it has a name on it other than that of the store?

          1. It should be what's in the package, not thepackage itself that drives your purchase. There are certain private labels that jfood purchases and others he does not. Whether its rational or not jfood will admit that when he is in a grocer and the Frosted Flakes are sitting right next to the "same" box of the store brand jfood will not grab the store brand. Probably throwing money out the window, but everyone has indiosyncracies.

            Jfood also believes that even the branded products at certain discount stores are not the same as in non Big Box stores. For example a drill purchased in Home Depot will not always have the same quality of parts as the same model sold in a local hardware store. the HD may have plastic parts while the hardware store has metal. So it's not just what you buy butwhere you buy it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jfood

              Occasionally a plant that I service will give a "sample package" at the end of a visit. One of these plants made "store brand" cereals. Prior to that visit I always bought national brands. To my surprise, the store brands were just as good as I was used to. Then I discovered the considerable price difference. Now we purchase the store brand unless there is no equivalent. (Generic Grape Nuts aren't in all stores.)

            2. I guess it depends. I buy White Rose yogurt because it's still made in 8 ounce containers.

              But I wouldn't buy a store brand peanut butter if my hair were on fire.

              5 Replies
              1. re: dolores

                dolores...OMG! May that never, ever happen!
                I used to feel the same way about peanut butter and English mufffins, until I had occasion to try Wegman's (A NE supermarket chain) chunky peanut butter. It was surprisingly good. I'm wondering if Jif supplies it to them.
                As for the English, muffins: I'm sticking with Thomas's

                1. re: Tay

                  Tay I was just about to comment about Wegmans. They are not in my area but I went to school in Rochester, NY where they are based. Their house brand is amazing!!!

                  1. re: HungryRubia

                    The Wegmans here (Fairfax, VA) has been open the past couple of years, and I'm a regular shopper. I regularly use their various house label products and they are all of excellent quality.

                    1. re: dpan

                      I used to live next door to that Wegman's, and I loved when it moved in! I actually found Wegman's store brands to be of a higher quality in some instances than the more expensive name brands.

                2. re: dolores

                  We, a 10 year old expert and myself, LOVE TJ's natural PB.

                3. I'm the opposite: I love store brands, particularly ones like TJ's, which I've found consistently good.

                  But I get what (I think) you mean. If you're looking for a specific product, nothing else will do - and it's nearly impossible to tell if the store brand is made by the same company unless you've tried and compared.

                  1. The big rumor is that Costco's Kirkland brand vodka is Grey Goose. They sell them right next to each other on the shelf. The only indication is that Kirkland is also made in France. I haven't tried it, but I've heard positive things. So, even if it isn't true, people seem to enjoy the Kirkland vodka just as much.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                      Wow the Costco I go to - nashua NH, only sells wine and beer (Ithink), I'll have to check to see if they sell more alcohol items.

                      1. re: hummingbird

                        What kinds of alcohol -- or whether they can sell alcohol at all -- varies depending on local laws.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Vodka, in Costco?! How cool.

                          I imagine we in NY are lucky that Costco is allowed to sell water -- no wine, beer, or vodka that I have seen.

                          1. re: dolores

                            Where in NY are you? I've seen alcohol sold in the 5 boroughs at Costco in Brooklyn, but unfortunately I am too cheap to buy a membership, and my company gets us a BJ's membership.

                            1. re: MrsT

                              Yep, by Oregon law, only beer and wine - hard alcohol can only be sold at state-run liquor stores.

                              1. re: MrsT

                                In NYS you can only buy beer, wine coolers, hard cider, etc. in a "non-liquor" store and only beer & wine in a liquor store.

                                1. re: al b. darned

                                  Then where do you buy liquor?

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    I assume al b. darned meant to write "only liquor & wine in a liquor store," as that's what's true in NY state (literally - you cannot buy food or mixers in a liquor store; no one-stop shopping). The destinctions are based on liquor percentage, so beer on up through wine coolers/malt beverages in groceries, but not wine. It was a shock to encounter when I moved to NY after a lifetime in no-blue law CA.

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      For me it was the opposite. Growing up in Vermont, only beer and wine was available in the grocery and "corner" stores. And not on Sundays for most of my childhood. I remember my Dad driving to NH before a party on a Sunday to get beer because he forgot to get it on Saturday. Hard liquor was only from the State Store, aka "Package Store" or "Pacxky."

                                      I was very surprised when I was stationed in the SF area and the Hard Liquor Department in the local Walgreens!

                              2. re: dolores

                                The one in Queens has a liquor store next to is (on the other side of the food court) and you don't need a membership to Costco to shop there. They sell wine and hard liquor there and beer is sold either in the regular store or in the liquor store (can't remember which).

                                1. re: littlebites

                                  As far as liquor goes with Sams or Costco, if they are not allowed to sell in the store proper due to local laws, they have an attached store. In Texas it is illegal not to sell alcohol at the same price to everyone, Thus, no membership is needed to buy beer wine or booze at a private clube such as Costco. Anyone can walk in and buy it, and without paying for a card.

                          2. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                            I don't know how true this is, but many many moons ago I worked in a grocery store as a stockboy and my manager told me that typically the store brand is placed such that competitors products are in between the store brand and the actual manufacturer (where possible) - and that was a good way to figure out who was really making it.

                            I bring that up only because I saw you mentioned GG & Kirkland sitting next to each other.

                            As for the last comment you made, once you get to the range of high end vodka, by the nature of the product its all going to start tasting the same to most folks.

                            1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                              I would be really surprised if that were so. I bought a bottle of the Kirkland and actively didn't like it. I do, however, like Grey Goose quite well.

                            2. I trust brand name items very less than "generic" or Store branded. The store brands I have tried since the "generics" and they came out, have been consistantly good. And they are very often made by brandname makers, or better yet, local makers.

                              I read ingredients and buy by ingredients, I don't shop by the "cover on the book" but rather what is inside.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Quine

                                You hit it right on.

                                Publix grocery stores makes a few awesome bottled dressings. Now I make my own most of the time ... but sometimes when short on time I use a bottled dressing. The other night came home and had picked up a store bought chicken (worked 3 hours late. Needed to feed four people. Another grocery brand find is some dressing because I forgot the worsy sauce and lemon for my caesar salad. Well I used Publix Caesar dressing (pretty darn good). I also used my 2.99 bottle of Walmart Red wine ... and trust me you got to taste it. It is generic and just table wine, but for a single glass of red wine, it really isn't bad. And I enjoy nice wine Besides ... I was making wine coolers so it was fine. Then I made a Sweetbay apple pie, another frozen pie I picked up. another store brand. I did add some spicy to the top, added to store brand ice cream (albertsons) plain vanillla with some nuts, honey and caramel and refroze while we ate dinner.

                                So ... other than opening the bag of romaine hearts up and chopping, nuking some store bought potatoes and serving with ..... oh yeah store brand sour cream and butter .... my store bought dressing ....pre made chicken .... wine coolers .... and pie for desert. Dinner was 30 minutes on the table and everyone raved.

                                It is what things taste like and there are some pretty good quality things out there.

                                FYI, I used to buy this dressing from target which I loved and new I had it before but it had a target lable. Found out it was a JL Hudson speciality (I grew up with JL Hudson in MI), then I found out I originally had it in MN, at I believe (don't hold me to this, I'm racking my memory here ... Bonwitt) But it turns out it was made originally for 1 store, also for a second and then target cuz target was owned by Hudson and the parent co, so who makes it for all of them ... Targets was 2.59, Hudsons 5.99, and Bonwitt ...15.99 j/k don't remember. Point being all the same.

                                Eat what you enjoy. In school I used to buy generic white tennis shoes, looked the same as keds except for a red dot. Girls wouldn't talk to me cuz I had fake shoes ... really ... turns out they were made by keds but the store brand name didn't have the red dot. Same comparison

                              2. RicRios,

                                I'm with you on this one. Whether it's wine, or yogurt, I like MY brands, and have to be pushed to try the captive ones. I have been swayed, in a very few instances, but am usually not. If I want a Ch. XXX Bdx., that is what I want - not some knock-off of it. Same with most items. I will search the Earth, to find specific items, and will not (usually) be pleased with substitutes. I do not care if it's Tabasco soy sauce, or a certain provider of beef tenderloin. If I want something, I find that substitutes are usually a waste of my time, calories, money or cabinet/'fridge space.

                                Hunt

                                1. Give TJ's a try. Their olive oil is wonderful, and so are their nuts. The chocolate, that I use for baking is great, along with their pitted dry cured olives (only place I can find them pitted). The two Buck Chuck is not bad either (I guess it's now called three or four Buck Chuck).

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Mother of four

                                    Mother of four (that must be a f/t occcupation!) I agree with you
                                    Most people are swayed/influenced by expensive marketing/advertising and their perception of what packaging should look like. That's why companies spend millions on advertising.Savvy consumers st least try the 'house brand'

                                    1. re: Tay

                                      You're right, Tay. When I just gotta have ice cream, and none of my favorite 56 oz. half gallons are on sale, I will buy (again) White Rose. It's good enough for that 'quick fix'.

                                    2. re: Mother of four

                                      Mo4,

                                      Question: have you tried the Costco EVO? Reason that I ask is because a chef friend has done several olive oil tastings and the offering from Costco (I think it is their Kirkland brand), has been the winner, even when she stacked the deck with some very rare and expensive IT offerings. I'd say that maybe it was playing to the lowest common denominator, except that she also agrees, and spends a good amount of her time throughout IT, sampling all of the various olive oils, that she can.

                                      I'll check out the TJ's version, and see how it compares. I do not believe that it has been included in any of these tastings, but could have forgotten.

                                      Hunt

                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                        Sorry to say no Costco anywhere near! We seem to be big on Sams here in Sarasota and in MI. A few of my daughter in laws belong and think it's great. Maybe someday!

                                        1. re: Mother of four

                                          We have both, in AZ, but I have not been to a Sam's (except NOLA, pre-K), so I cannot comment on their wine selections. I hear Costco mentioned on the wine board, more often, than Sam's, but that might just be the regional-centric aspect of the majority of posters, i.e. CA, AZ, etc.

                                          Hunt

                                    3. If you want a particular appelation of bordeaux, then you'd better buy a bottle identifying the estate / commune / etc. But why is Kirkland's store brand more offensive than Louis Jadot's ubiquitous (and equally generic) bordeaux?

                                      If Straus yogurt comes from cows owned, nurtured, and milked by the Straus family, and you know and trust the Straus family, then by all means make sure you buy Straus-branded yogurt. But if Straus is just a conglomerate that buys dairy products from farmers that meet their criteria, then how are they any different than any other corporate buyers?

                                      I like Niman Ranch pork. I know that the company does a pretty good job of making sure that their suppliers maintain certain standards. But I still don't know where the meat comes from. I'd rather buy a pork chop from John Bledsoe, the pig farmer who is committed to the slow food movement and who shows up at the local farmer's market every Sunday morning.

                                      Whether or not the product carries a private label is irrelevant. The only question is whether you like the product and trust the company that stands behind it.

                                      1. I really get put out when they take a name brand product off the shelf and replace it with a store brand. They see it sells well, so they figure they can cash in on that, and wham, it's gone. And then you have an inferior product for a little less money. Is it worth it? It depends. Sometimes it's acceptable, but IMO, 90% it isn't. Our Kroger's is notorious for this, but I have no qualms whatsoever in taking their inferior product back and demanding my money back! I even went as far as to stop this yuppie couple from buying a certain store brand product. He tossed the off brand Velveeta in the basket, while her head was turned. I tapped her, and asked if they usually bought that brand, and she looked and said no! He wasn't paying attention, and that is how these things get bought!

                                        Now I will buy off brands at some stores, like Whole Foods, but not at larger chains. We have HEB here and a lot of their private label, pre-cooked, or pre-seasoned meat products are really good. It really does depend on the store. And as others have said, really look at the labels. You'd be surprised how many private labels come from the name brand companies.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: danhole

                                          "And as others have said, really look at the labels."

                                          Well, believe me, I certainly do. And I can't recall ever seeing the original manufacturer mentioned in the retailer's package ( that would defeat the purpose of private labels, wouldn't it? )

                                          It goes even further. I recall once writing to Kraft asking who was the actual maker of their "Grey Poupon" mustard. Which in my opinion is a product greatly inferior when compared to the original version. Needless to say, their answer duly arrived, saying it was company policy not to reveal their sources.

                                          As far as any other info contained in the label, I don't see how that will allow me to know what the content tastes like. As if the alcohol content or grape varietal of a wine label would help much in predicting my possible enjoyment of the product.

                                          Regarding another common idea mentioned frequently in this thread:
                                          "It should be what's in the package, not thepackage itself that drives your purchase." Well, that's precisely the siren's song of retailers doing private labels! The idea behind that being I should stop buying what I usually do and switch to their generic brand. Since they rely on :
                                          a) original brand no longer in their shelves,
                                          b) people too lazy to seek other retailers carrying their favorite brand, and/or
                                          c) people's tastes sufficiently unevolved to buy whatever product has a label on it with the looked-for wording.

                                          1. re: RicRios

                                            Double-R,

                                            Maybe many like jfood did not describe adequately for your last a-c.

                                            Here a real life example. Many years ago there was a car manufacturer named NUMI. It was joint venture between Toyota and GM. A car would com down the assembly line and exit with all but one part missing, the name plate. Cars that made a left at the exit received a Toyota emblem, to the right a GM. The price difference was a few thousand dollars for the exact same car sans label.

                                            So the point of the "inside" is if the frosted flakes in the Private Label next to the Kellogs is exactly the same as the Grrrrreat Box but for $1 less, than why should it matter that Tony is called Tommy on the private label one.

                                            So many of us still (a) see the original brand on the shelf, (b) are not lazy, and (c) have palates that understand, yet we might buy private label for less.

                                            That is not to say that all private labels are the same, but that's the point that many of us were trying to make.

                                            And let's not forget the guys who are trying to capitalize on the branded names, i.e Fig Newman's. Give Jfood a break Pauly.

                                            1. re: jfood

                                              From the Newman's Own website:

                                              "Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation donate all profits and royalties after taxes for educational and charitable purposes. Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $200 million to thousands of charities worldwide since l982. The Newman's Own Foundation makes grants to charities within the United States and abroad."

                                              Capitalizing on a good cause is alright with me!

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                I don't think Newman's Own has its own factory. Rather they have a contract with some multibrand factory. Though being organic, they may have a dedicated production line within that factory.

                                                I recall Cable documentary about a company the specializes in single serving packets, the type used by fast-food chains. They had recipes programmed into their equipment for the particular formulations that each brand wanted.

                                                paulj

                                              2. re: RicRios

                                                Ric, while they may not put on the label that Brand X is made by Del Monte, you can figure it out upon examination, the both have the same address. I was comparing two different containers of the same product, and the packaging was different, the containers were different, but in essence they were the same thing, except one was less expensive. After scouring the labels, I realized they came from the same place, and bought the less expensive one.

                                                It's the same point that jfood made about the cars. My DH worked for a company that made cleaning products. They were under many different labels, some very expensive and some that people would think were inferior because of the off brand label, but they were all the same things, just under different company names.

                                                And no, I am not lazy. I will go from one place to the next to find a certain item that my store no longer carries, or put in a request to bring it back to my favorite store. And my tastes are very evolved, but sometimes the lesser of the two is every bit as good.

                                                1. re: danhole

                                                  Even if they come from the same factory they might be made to different specifications. The private label could be made by Del Monte in the Del Monte factory, but still not be the same product.

                                            2. Years ago, as an object lesson, my dad bought a box of Raisin Bran (TM) and the house brand of the same cereal. Back then, Raisin Bran was advertised on TV as having "two scoops of raisins in every box!" as if that were something special. So we actually counted raisins. The house brand had more raisins.

                                              On the other hand, yogurt is a very special and personal thing, and I have yet to find a house brand that is other than abysmal, prefering my Liberte and Emmi.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Loren3

                                                Loren3, since I decided to boycott the 6 oz. yogurts at the 8 oz. price (possibly biting off my nose to spite my face, I know) and since I have never found a yogurt quite as heavenly as the strained Greek yogurt, I am happy with the 8 oz. White Rose (this is a store brand in our Met supermarkets, I think) yogurt. You're right, though, it is not top shelf yogurt.

                                                1. re: dolores

                                                  Publix has their own now, and their Fruit at the bottom is every bit as good as Damon, and gives you 8oz. instead of 6.

                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                    I get White Rose yogurt too, but from Gristedes - not a house brand.

                                                    The way I see it, a house brand is like any other brand - some are good, some aren't, and the only way to find out is to taste it. If I'm in the mood for Ben & Jerry's, TJ's isn't going to cut it; on the other hand I seek out Whole Food's 365 brand frozen fruit, and I like TJs indian dinners better than a lot of name brands. You can't generalize about all store brands being inferior; it all depends on the product and what's to your taste.

                                                    1. re: Emmmily

                                                      White Rose is a "house brand" sold to various small/regional grocery chain, including Gristede's. White Rose IS Gristede's house brand, available in products throughout the store, from dairy to cereal and in between. Like other such brands, it is distrubted through a (wait for it) distributer, but the products are made by many companies. Canadian chowhounds are often fans of the Presidents Choice brand (I think it may be Loblaws' house brand?), and during the 90s, it was available at D'Agostino's in Manhattan (it was their top-tier house-brand, with Masters Choice as the "everyman" choice); I believe it is/was sold at a Boston chain, too. Same scenario.

                                                      "You can't generalize about all store brands being inferior; it all depends on the product and what's to your taste."

                                                      Absolutely. In *any* store brand I've tried where I've liked some products, I haven't liked others. Most of the time, it's the particular qualities of the products (not just the "quality," which varies across a house brand in part becasue they're made by many producers). And, as has been pointed out on this thread, many house brands are the same products, made by the same companies, as name brands. So it may depend which name brands you like (or, in some cases, the perception that the latter is better because it's a name brand, even if it's in reality the same thing).

                                                2. My cousin was head of marketing for Heinz for years and he said that they make dozens of other brands of catchup also.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: BlueHerons

                                                    My dad was a Heinz worker so I can visit their D&R store with my mum. Not only are there no-names on the shelves, but also other name brands as well. HP sauce springs to mind as well as several other restaurant-chains' brands. I know that some of the products, e.g. HP, are custom produced but expect that others involve a label change only.

                                                    I'm not trusting of brand names anymore either, and direct more suspicion towards them than private labels, RicRios.

                                                    Here in Canada "Aylmer" was a trusted brand. This processor canned local fruit and vegetables from locally contracted suppliers. Their brand, indeed most competing brands, still sit on the shelves, but they come from China and elsewhere. Locally available products are now streaming in from other countries under "trusted brands." I'm sure you can list your own examples.

                                                    You are right also in checking the labels, RR. Bring a loupe to the shops. The exclusionary phrases usually appear in mice-type and mouse language.

                                                    Costs may have declined upstream, but I'm still paying the same or more.

                                                    1. re: DockPotato

                                                      Does D&R mean dents and returns?

                                                      1. re: beany

                                                        "Does D&R mean dents and returns?"

                                                        I knew but don't know now. The "D" does stand for "Damaged" and referred to dents in cans where there was no hole. The products are perfectly safe but deviate slightly in process or ingredients. Also, the labels are often applied upside down on canned goods :)

                                                        After checking with friends, my unfounded suspicion of a "label change" is incorrect. Heinz recipes are not used in private brands. The no-name beans beside the Heinz brand are different even though they were done in the same retort.

                                                        1. re: DockPotato

                                                          thank you

                                                  2. I am with you 100%, RicRios! That's one of the many, many reasons I don't shop a Kroger. Or buy underwear at Dillard's for that matter - I want Jockey's, not some cheap ass knock off that flosses me.

                                                    BUT....I also totally agree with much of the other feedback to your post. Generic and/or store brands can be perfectly good or even better than the name brands. The trick is discovering which are which, and I've wasted too many $$$ on products that end up with an off taste or texture. The smart stores - Costco is a great example - demo their products in the store. That's about the only way to get my business.

                                                    1. I don't know who makes the WF 365 brand products, but I usually go to WF for the sole purpose of stocking up on some of them.

                                                      1. There's no way that Hellmann's makes anyone else's mayonnaise. No one else's comes close.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                                          Dukes is much better!

                                                          1. re: ariellasdaddy

                                                            But people have complained that Hellmann's has changed. I recall a discussion some years ago comparing the ingredients list for Canadian Hellmann's v. the US.

                                                            Mayonnaise is one of things where the basic formulation is well known, but slight variations in the seasoning, such as the type and amount of vinegar or lemon juice, etc., makes a big difference in taste. That is why some prefer Hellmann's, other's Kraft. I prefer the stiffer Mexican brands, including McCormack. TJs mayo also tastes good, though it isn't as stiff as Hellmann's. I've also tried, and liked, mayo from France, and Peru. I haven't tried Dukes.

                                                            paulj

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              I always thought that Hellman's was the standard for mayonnaise, much like Heinz is for ketchup. Until I tasted a mayonnaise so good I had to find out the brand. It is Admiration brand mayonnaise, made in Englewood, N.J. This company also makes salad dressings, mustard, and other condiments. Their products are sold mostly to restaurants and food suppliers. Their deli mustard is the best I've ever tasted and is used at many of the fine hot dog establishments in North Jersey.

                                                              As far as private label brands go, some of them are very good. The entire line of Black Bear products is made for Shop Rite by Dietz and Watson of Philadelphia. The corned beef, roast beef, and pastrami sold under the Wegmans label is made by Best Provisions of Newark, N.J. This is the same company that makes the best beef frankfurter anywhere.

                                                              1. re: hotdoglover

                                                                Those Best's franks are very good indeed, but personally I'd take the Black Bears over any other supermarket frank, including Hebrew Nat's, etc. They're just great dogs, and at their best with Bauer's horseradish mustard and no other toppings- private label or not.

                                                            2. re: ariellasdaddy

                                                              The only "real" mayo is Cain's...made without preservatives. In another thread someone asked about "things you won't eat." For me the list includes Calcium Disodium EDTA...the same stuff they put in the water of industrial boilers to control scale buildup.

                                                            3. Unfortunately most labeling tells you very little about who made or supplied the contents, be it a brand name or private label product. Comparing addresses and the like tells you little; most private label products note the address of the home office of the private label company, not the company who packaged the product.

                                                              Apart from the fairly standardized nutrition labeling, only a few other things may help discern the quality (and qualities) of what is inside apart from tasting. Organic may tell you certain things. And the ingredients themselves if it's not a single-ingredient product may help as well. Other than that, just try it.

                                                              It's really funny to see it suggested that stores are doing something evil to try to lure you away from your favorite brands. The brands are doing the same thing to try to keep you buying their stuff or lure you away from other brands (be they "name brands" or house brands). Often the name brands are doing various things to attempt to justify a price differential. It may be worth it to some, not to others. You can choose to try new things once in a while, or you can stick with buying your tried and true favorites. Who is standing in your way?

                                                              What is so evil about private label promotion vs any other kind? That the stores are in control of what is sold there? This is hardly the only thing they do in this regard. Keep in mind that many areas of a supermarket the shelf position is determined by slotting fees. The reason the Coke is in the front and Pepsi in the back of that particular aisle, or vice-versa, is because one of them paid more to be in the front. Or they both paid more to not be stuck in the middle. Or whatever. Margins in the food retail business are razor thin, so pushing more private labels are a way to make up some of that, but unless its a small store they won't typically stop offering major brands to do so. They may stop offering slower selling brands to clear some space.

                                                              Trader Joe's is a terrible example to use here. Wandering into a Trader Joe's to look for brand name items, unless you know they carry it, is silly. Their whole reason for being is private label, high-quality private label that offers good value to those who are interested. They do carry some brand name stuff, but something like 80% or more of the products in there are private label. And since it's a store with less variety than a typical supermarket, if they come up with a new private label product that's similar to a brand name they have been carrying, the brand name product might get bumped. TJ's is a store that bumps slow selling stuff frequently, even though that might have been your favorite item. Brand name is a minor sideline for them, while in larger stores brand name is still pretty mainstream.

                                                              The only way to buy something where you know who made it is to buy only local items by small producers at farmers markets, co-ops, small local stores, etc. You can probably do it, but it can be a challenge depending upon what you like to buy/eat. Just having a brand name on the product is no assurance of anything. Good luck doing it with non-food products.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: CrazyOne

                                                                Wegman's is also heavy into their own house brands.

                                                              2. I just tried my first bottle of Kirkland vodka and realized at once that it was one heck of a lot better than Smirnoff. Not being a vodka connoisseur, I didn't know what to expect, but I have no intention of buying Smirnoff again as long as the Kirkland is so smooth and tasty!

                                                                It would be great if it was the same as Gray Goose, but I'm not a vodka brand snob. Now, talk tequila or scotch, and I can go some snobby...

                                                                1. Doesn't it matter what product it is? I don't like Safeway's store brand of ketchup, but most of the lucerne dairy products are good. I believe i can tell the difference between Welches grape jelly and a generic or store brand. If I am using it for general cooking I don't think I can tell the difference between Kirkland Olive Oil and Bertoli's. If I was going to use it on a salad, I would probably be more careful...but in a pinch for a midnight snack when my cupboard was bare, it seemed just fine to sop into a piece of french bread.

                                                                  Sometimes it makes sense to take a chance on a store brand, see if it is acceptable or not.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                    Grapenuts is one of the few items where I prefer the brandname over generic. In that case it is just subtle issues on sweetening, especially the use of malt sugar. It's not that there is a difference quality, but just a difference from what I expect.

                                                                    Trader Joes has their own label of rice drink. I prefer the taste of Rice Dream, but the difference is small enough that I will substitute one for the other.

                                                                    paulj

                                                                  2. All these grocery stores don't have their own plants cranking out subpar cookies and oils. Grocery stores are in the business of selling products, not manufacturing them. It stands to reason, then, that the generic or private label products come from companies already manufacturing products, probably under a brand name.

                                                                    The main reason for the price difference is not the difference in quality, but it advertising. This is why kids' cereals are so expensive. They're made with the cheapest of ingredients, but are the most expensive things in the store. They have to pay for all those commercials, and for those prime spots on kid-level shelves in the stores.

                                                                    I think some brands don't participate in these store brand deals, but I would guess that most do. I

                                                                    If I were you, I would give some of those store brands a shot. You might find that all you're not paying for is a silly commercial.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: alysonlaurel

                                                                      Private Label manufacturing has become much more sophisticated in recent years. There are companies that do nothing but private label products. Supermarket chains have become much more involved in the process as well. Gone are that days when store brands were simply cheap knock-offs of name brand goods. Some chains even carry multiple levels of store brands under different names. Royal Ahold stores such as Giant carry up to three different Private label brands. They have the Guaranteed Value line for budget products, the store brand for mainstream goods and the Simply Enjoy brand for fancier foods. Wegmans also does a particularly good job with their private label. Their line of Indian and Asian frozen dinners is particularly good.

                                                                      1. re: xnumberoneson

                                                                        to add to the Ahold stores (giant & stop and shop are examples) store brands, GV is their ubercheap unadvertised products, Simply enjoy (little luxuries), Natures promise (storebrand organics), care 1 (SB health and beauty care), and Cottontails for baby items. I find them on par with the name brands, and in some instances, even better. It's a matter of pride for the store to have a good store brand...

                                                                    2. The marketing efforts of the brand names have worked very well on you. If you were hoping to get Strauss's organic yogurt at TJ's, then you likely aren't too familiar with how TJ's works. 80 percent of their stuff is private label. I've seen some of their most popular brand-name products suddenly go private-label (the bottled water and handmade Italian pizzas are two noteworthy ones), often with a pretty decent drop in price. The only thing that changed was that it now says Trader Joe's on the packaging.

                                                                      All of the places you mentioned (plus one of my new favorites out West, Fresh & Easy) have very generous return policies. If you don't like it, they'll gladly refund your money. I know at Trader Joe's very often you don't even need the packaging, just *tell* them you didn't like it and they'll give you a refund.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                                                                        Except that, at least in the Bay Area, TJ's does carry Straus yogurt. Or they have until very recently. I could be that they're phasing it out and replacing with with a house-label equivalent (which might actually be made by Straus, since Straus produces some of their other milk products).

                                                                      2. I bought some Trader Joe's pasta for DH. I had a taste -- I thought it was really good, perhaps even better than De Cecco or Barilla. It cooks to al dente very well. You sometimes have to experiment.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          Just wanted to report that in a taste test consisting of Italian chefs, Trader Joe's pasta scored on the top, beating out Barilla and some fancy artisanal brands. So there are really some great private label products out there.

                                                                          http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

                                                                        2. And just to beat a dead horse some more .... The SF Chronicle does weekly blind tastings of various food items, from basic to gourmet, and publishes the ratings. Their year-end round-up contained the following: "Store brands won more than one-fourth of all the tastings, 12 out of 43 in all. And of them, five were Safeway store brands, including Lucerne and Manor House as well as Safeway. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's tied with three each, and Kroger/Cala won one with its ketchup, beating even Heinz."

                                                                          http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            I no longer live in Safeway's part of the country, but my memory is that Lucerne dairy products, especially things like the sour cream and half and half, were almost always the best available.

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              We had a snippet in our paper last week about the quality of mixed nuts in a can. CVS (a drug store) won top honors and was the cheapest. The other contenders were all well known brands that went for top dollar!

                                                                              And I like Lucerne, too. Especially their cottage cheese.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                I really like the Safeway store brand items. In my part of the country we have Randall's grocery stores and they carry Safeway. Safeway frozen vegetables are really great and have lots of variety.

                                                                                1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                                  After acquiring Dominick's in Chicago, Safeway shifted the private labels to Safeway Select. Sales plummeted because of a widespread perception of the inferior quality of the Safeway products in both food and nonfood lines. Our limited sampling was consistent with that perception. Dropping sales soon led to freshness problems in all perishable lines and more sales declines followed by store closings.

                                                                                  1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                                    I have found I live several of the Safeway Organic "O" products that I like. But when going through the can goods (looking for old date codes) I found that the "O" canned organic beans are all from China. Probably nothing wrong with them, but..... Looking at the labels is important if you care.

                                                                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    I have Randall's which is owned by Safeway, and I love their Lucerne and Safeway Select brands. Every bit as good as the name brands and much lower price. Lucerne are the only dairy products I buy, and the Safeway Select frozen foods are excellent.

                                                                                  3. One other private label item I love is the WalMart Great Value drink mixes. They are like Crystal Light, but they don't have the fake taste. I love love love the Cranberry. It tastes just like cranberry juice to me, but it's sugar free. I've hear the apple tastes just like apple juice. They are way better than Crystal Light.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                                      Mmmm, the grape is also delicious.

                                                                                      1. re: GenieinTX

                                                                                        I am obsessed with them. I have tried just about every flavor. Like you, I love the Cranberry. Also very good are the Orange Sunrise, Apple, Fruit Punch, Peach and Cran Apple.

                                                                                      2. I knew someone who worked at the local Kraft dairy plant when I lived in dairy country.
                                                                                        To my surprise he told me they made many brands from low to high-end--the only difference was in the packaging.

                                                                                        The key was the milk fat content.

                                                                                        I don't know about you , I just wish I could buy milk and especially half and half and cream that isn't ultra-pasteurized. Surprisingly I found it at Walmart's from a local dairy back east but not here in the West.
                                                                                        It is so much better for ice cream and soups to not have dairy be ultra-pasteurized. Especially when making ice cream, of course.
                                                                                        So don't overlook both Walmart's and Trader Joe's. They both buy locally. Look for local. It's got the edge because it hasn't spent forever being trucked about.

                                                                                        gala1

                                                                                        1. Ack, I just remembered the 2 months I worked at a manufacturer of windshield-wiper fluid - a well-known brand in the area, but not sure about elsewhere. We did label a good deal of it as private-label, and it sold for less in those stores. As I recall, the private-label label, did mention the original company, or at least the address. It's been about 15 years since I worked there, though.

                                                                                          1. I'm surprised I haven't seen anyone mention Target's Archer Farms brand. Every single thing I've tried has been excellent.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                              Me too!

                                                                                              Living in Canada, whenever I come to U.S., I try to stock up as much as I can. I keep thinking there's going to be a dud everytime I try a new product of theirs, but still haven't found one after 2 years.

                                                                                              You're lucky you have a Target....

                                                                                              1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                Agreed. Their potato chips are awesome. Great flavors. The only thing I didn't like was their coffee but I don't like TJ's either. All their junk food, though-YUM!

                                                                                                1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                                                  I just wish Target hadn't apparently discontinued the olive oil potato chips. They were definitely significantly better than even the usual AF chips.

                                                                                                2. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                  I forgot those, yes, very good

                                                                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                    oooh!! their dill pickle cashews!! yummm

                                                                                                3. I'm a fan of President's Choice products. Across the board they're just as good and much of the time better than national brand stuff. Don't know if much of it is available in the USA though.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: mogo

                                                                                                    I agree. President's Choice is excellent. The only thing of their's I didn't care for was the taco/tortilla chips. Everything else I have tried has been better than name brands.
                                                                                                    One amusing thing. In Canada, if not the US, we have a well advertised brand of frozen vegetables and fruit called Europe's Best. The other day I bought a bag of "Zen Garden" stir fry mix. It was great...but...(remember the brand name)...it was made in China. :-)

                                                                                                    1. re: mogo

                                                                                                      Don't know if it still is available south of the border. In the 90s (maybe before, I didn't live there pre-90s), it was the house brand of a local NYC chain. Don't think they carried the full line, but lots.

                                                                                                      1. re: mogo

                                                                                                        Dave Nichol was president of Loblaws in Canada during the late 70's and early 80's. He rose to iconic status in Canada for turning his company around - providing exciting graphics and store design, and introducing us to the concept of "No Name" where the pricing did not include brand advertising or promotion, and offered reduced markup through factoring. Of course the entire advertising community was salivating for "The No-Name Account" but it flowed through a design/marketing consultancy in which Dave's mate, Heather Cooper was a principal - Heather Cooper & Associates located in an historic building once the Toronto studio centre of another Canadian treasure - "The Group of Seven." She is a genius illustrator and creative mind.

                                                                                                        http://www.heathercooper.com/

                                                                                                        Her firm was responsible for the cunning, "No Name" graphics - black Helvetica text on a solid PMS Yellow ground with PMS Warm Red accents. At the time it conveyed "Clearance!" and panic alongside carefully prepped and photographed beans, corn etc. At the time the concept provoked the same remarks as this thread, but even more intense.

                                                                                                        "President's Choice" was introduced well into Dave Nichol's tenure. During his time it was an expression of his own culinary taste and an immediate success. We had "Decadent" items, we had "Taste of" items and other pushes when we were just moving away from decent but narrow food choices. President's Choice was positioned as unique, exotic and very high-end at about the same price you'd pay for a national brand that lacked panache.

                                                                                                        I don't know how much of the legacy survives. Loblaws has certainly slipped.

                                                                                                        1. re: DockPotato

                                                                                                          Heather Cooper is a fabulous graphic artist. I worked with her in the seventies on a small ad campaign. However, I don't recall her having anything to do with the No Name or PC graphics, or with Loblaws in general. And I don't think she was ever Dave Nichol's mate, whose name is something like Terri.

                                                                                                          The original Loblaw's store designs, branding, and graphics were done by Don Watt (who also did this for, among many others, Wal-Mart and Home Depot). The creative inspiration behind many of the original President's Choice food items was Jim White. The business was run by Currie.

                                                                                                          Nichol was a pitchman - no more, no less. He was an incredible pitchman and I miss his influence, since he made supermarket shopping exciting. He was also an abominable person to work for (I knew people who had the misfortune) and he was never successful again after leaving Loblaw's, which was his own decision (he wasn't fired).

                                                                                                          The PC legacy survives. They still have many products that are, variously, the "best" or the "only" in their categories, and new ones continue to emerge but, since Nichol's departure, the excitement is no more. In every other respect, Loblaw's has slipped badly. Most importantly, they stopped listening to customers.

                                                                                                      2. Private Label can vary greatly depending on how the retailer "goes to market" with their
                                                                                                        program. Some retailers take it quite seriusly( Aldi, TJ.'s, Wegmans to name a few) they
                                                                                                        do their homework and source from either a Private Label packer, or from a manufacturer
                                                                                                        who does not have a strong "image" to maintain, These retailers are usually looking for a very good "knock-off" of an industry standard. Aldi's and Trader Joes operate under somewhat the same business model, Aldi as a low cost provider and Trader Joe at the high end.Their private labels are packed under numerous"names" but are essentially all their Private Label. These type of retailers are extremely protective of the quality of their labels. Many other retailers tend to source mainly on price, looking for a distinct price advantage at the point of purchase. The trend with most retailers is to garner approximately 15-20% of a segments volume in P.L. An ilong time ndustry leader
                                                                                                        in P.L. is Weis Markets in the Mid-Atlantic where many of thier categories exceed 40%
                                                                                                        in P.L.

                                                                                                        1. Just want to add the chorus for private labels. Sometimes they are just as good if not better than the so-called brands and are inevitably cheaper. Try and judge for yourself.

                                                                                                          I especially appreciate WF 365 brands and TJ's private labels. Although I have some complaints about how both stores have changed over the years with its huge expansion (ie. emphasis on global produce instead of organic and local, what appears to be immense wasteful strategy of providing massive amounts of ready-made foods in plastic containers, etc.), one of the benefits of that has been the expansion of both stores' private labels, which help lighten the wallet. TJ's tends to have some ongoing quality assurance issues, but mostly the private labels are pretty good.

                                                                                                          1. Go in peace. I will keep right on buying Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce because, whoever makes it with only 25 mg sodium per serving, he doesn't seem to be making it for anybody else. And whoever makes TJ's frozen Apple Blossoms, he also sells them to chain supermarkets where they're sold for 50% more than at TJ's. And whoever makes TJ's wine that's $2.99 a bottle, my husband likes it fine. So, yes, RicRios, I'd say it's just you.

                                                                                                            1. I assume that, in the same way brand names differ in quality and yumminess, the same is true of store brands. They usually much cheaper and probably worth a try. I buy a lot of Whole Foods 365 stuff and generally think it's very good. My rough bet would be a supermarket that is generally trying to provide high quality products, where the produce looks good, the prepared foods are at least decent and that carries good quality brand name products will probably make every effort to have it's store brand stuff be good, too, since that's what their customers want. A yucky store whose goal seems to be only carrying the cheapest stuff, regardless of quality, will probably produce a comparable store brand.

                                                                                                              1. .."the corporate buyers that only look after increased profits at the end of the quarter."<<

                                                                                                                Well............... that's pretty revealing. While I do understand what corporate bottom-line motivation can be like, I wouldn't discount the possibility that private label products can't be as good or better than brands.

                                                                                                                Yes, large volume retailers tend to do Private Label for higher profit, but that can also translate to better value for the customer. As I understand it, Costco buyers are not allowed to take higher than specific company mandated profit margins on products categories, so private label can allow them to give higher quality for the same retail price or to maintain price on items where the branded cost is increasing.

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                  .."the corporate buyers that only look after increased profits at the end of the quarter."<<

                                                                                                                  As opposed to the people running the brand name companies who make decisions based on. . . what is it you think they're pursuing? the health and well being of consumers? world peace? environmentally responsible food production practices? the most delicious and highest quality foods at the lowest prices regardless of profit margin?

                                                                                                                  1. re: marcia2

                                                                                                                    As can happen with the way these posts wind up positioned, I'm not positive you're taking issue with me personally, but my point is that the fact that public corporations are (by nature) more bottom line and stock price driven does not automatically mean that the ONLY reason they do private label is for increased profit. I was in that world for 35 years (part at at time when interest rates were pushing 20% and it took unprecedented margin and inventory control to make a profit) so I have some idea of what that pressure is like. Your statement that "a supermarket generally trying to provide high quality brand name products will probably make every effort to have it's store brand stuff be good, too" seems to agree with me, not disagree.

                                                                                                                    I'm disagreeing with RicRios' (the OP) suggestion that Trader Joe's' private labels are somehow suspect because the customer doesn't know the original manufacturer. I would defend the argument that private labels provide a path for a retailer to offer better prices, equal or even better quality and to develop their own brand image. The idea (if they do it correctly and consistently) is for their store brands to become just as trusted as the more artisanal sources.

                                                                                                                    I also love to support small family-owned producers, but I don't rule out corporate labels if they offer real quality and value. This is 2009 and we're not going back to a world of neighborhood bakeries, greengrocers, butchers, etc.. It's unfortunate but true. I'm happy to find a corporation that buys from them or tries to emulate them with their products.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Midlife

                                                                                                                      A little late, but yeah, I was agreeing with you and disagreeing with the OP who seems to be under the impression that corporate buyers are only after profits while people running brand name companies are pursuing something else.

                                                                                                                      Any company, big or small, public or private, producing a brand name or selling private labels products from undisclosed manufacturers can decide that the best way to make money is to provide a high quality product at a fair price or a poor to mediocre product at a low price (and a lot of other combinations of quality and price). I wouldn't assume that a store making it's name on high quality products would sell crap under it's private label. How does that help? If I try a Whole Foods 365 Brand product once, I'm only going to keep buying it if it's consistently good, similarly with all the TJ's branded products. Given the customer base at stores like that, there's no advantage to them to try to pawn of poor products.

                                                                                                                      1. re: marcia2

                                                                                                                        "Given the customer base at stores like that, there's no advantage to them to try to pawn of poor products."

                                                                                                                        Back in December 2007 when this thread started, many of us still believed in the "bigger is better for the consumer" corporate BS. More buying power, better quality at better price, right? Wrong! Fast forward to May 2009, now most of us have heard about GM, Bank of America, AIG ... Did you buy AIG's "excellent" insurance derivatives? You know what? AIG should never have gotten into something that was none of their business to begin with. Following the same paradigm: Whole Foods (365), Costco (Kirkland) and all the rest should not get into "producing" ( i.e., obscuring the source of ) milk, or butter, or cookies. Their business is RETAILING. Period. The more they absorb brand names, the bigger their clout, the less power for the consumer.

                                                                                                                        1. re: RicRios

                                                                                                                          Couldn't disagree more.

                                                                                                                          First off, you've started with a false premise. Whole Foods doesn't produce 365 butter, they buy it from a dairy. Costco doesn't make Kirkland Signature cookies, they buy them from a commercial bakery. And those dairies and bakeries seldom if ever have Whole Foods and Costco as their sole customers. They sell to other companies that then put different brand names on the same products and market them on consumers.

                                                                                                                          This doesn't decrease customer choice, it increases it. When you go to Whole Foods, you can choose between half a dozen different brands of organic butter; 365 is just one of them. And if it's the exact same butter as, say, Horizon, but with different packaging and a lower price, what's wrong with that?

                                                                                                                          I'm not sure where you got the idea that private labels absorb brand names. The brand name merchandise is right there on the shelf next to the store brands. You can't seriously believe that Grey Goose vodka is going to disappear from the shelves of all the liquor stores in America just because Costco markets an identical (or nearly identical) vodka under its Kirkland Select brand.

                                                                                                                          Private labels aren't about production, they're about marketing. And every business has to worry about marketing. The more products are out there - private label or brand name - the more choices a consumer has. Which gives that consumer more, not less, power.

                                                                                                                          1. re: RicRios

                                                                                                                            "Whole Foods (365), Costco (Kirkland) and all the rest should not get into "producing" ( i.e., obscuring the source of ) milk, or butter, or cookies. Their business is RETAILING. Period."

                                                                                                                            Unfortunately large retail companies (absolutely public companies) need to keep their stock price rising and increasing sales/profit performance is the way they do that. There doesn't appear to be a time when the 'market' says "Hey, you guys are doing a great job. Relax and keep improving your service. Don't worry about sales and margins for a while". I began in apparel retailing in the mid-60's and that has never changed since then. Private labeling cycles up and down as a profit vehicle in that world, just as in the food world, but it is much more up than down as a vehicle. The grass is always green on the other side of the fence.

                                                                                                                            I then migrated to the wholesale side of the apparel biz and we used to 'joke' about going to New York to see "The Buyer". Now you go to New York (Macy's), Bentonville (WalMart) or Issaquah (Costco) and you're pretty much done.

                                                                                                                            "The more they absorb brand names, the bigger their clout, the less power for the consumer."

                                                                                                                            If you look at whose business has been best, in the last critical months, the average consumer seems to like what those retailers do.

                                                                                                                  2. One point that I haven't seen mentioned in the thread. I believe that private label stuff has improved greatly in quality in recent years, and perhaps some of the antipathy to it is based on the historical quality difference that was but is no more.

                                                                                                                    A particular example is soft drinks, where private label stuff was generally really bad in the old days. I drink very little soft drinks, so when I do I'd just as soon have something good. Until 2 years ago I lived in the DC area and could shop at Wegmans, and I and found their private label stuff to be as good as, if not better than, name brands, item by item. I thought it was unique to them. But I now live in NC, but am finding the same thing here with just about everybody's store brands. The colas, root beer, etc are all excellent--just no point in paying the premium to get the name brand. AFAIK most of it is produced by Cott, and they seem to have their act together.

                                                                                                                    I also concur with those who have mentioned Safeway's cultured dairy products. I found them to be the best mainline brand available. Wegmans entire line of private label stuff is also excellent--I never found anything that wasn't top notch. I much preferred their kettle chips to Target's, by the way.

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                      Publix in FL, their brands are great. In fact that make a caesar and balsamic salad dressing that is really really good. I still like to make my own, but I keep a bottle of those plus ranch and do use them. Many other items are also quite good. Some brands aren't good, but some quite good.

                                                                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                                                                        Loblaw's in Ontario has their private "President's Choice" brand which sometimes seems to be crowding the name brands off the shelves. Some of them (like ketchup) are very good, other, like their imitation of Ritz crackers, don't quite make it. For Latin food (salsa, etc.) the brand becomes, in Spanish "La Eleccion del Presidente" which sounds more like a political thesis than a food brand.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ekammin

                                                                                                                          Good point. I've never found a private label "Ritz" or Cheez-it" as good as the original. Those are some of the very few products where I stay loyal to the brand item (but I only buy it when it's on "sale," which to me is the real price anyway.),

                                                                                                                          1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                            Oddly enough, my kids prefer Great Value (Wal-Mart brand) cheese crackers to either Cheez-It or Nips. I don't, though.

                                                                                                                    2. Naaaaa...maybe once in a while ther'll be a house brand dud but for the most part I've found that house brands are usually just as good as "name" brands, and there are cases where they are actually better. As far as "whose making the product" it doesn't matter as long as it's good. Besides, even some products that are "name" brands are actually produced by a third party company under license.
                                                                                                                      If I find a generic or house brand product is not up to snuff, I just stop buying it. Anyway, as pointed out above, the house brand stuff often comes from the very same plant that makes the "name" brands. I will continue to try them, and if I like them I save money in the process.

                                                                                                                      1. I think about this thread everytime I grocery shop now. I am a regular grocery shopper at Kroger, Target and Randalls (owned by Safeway). There are only a very few brand names that I stay loyal to (e.g. Jif PB), as I have found the private labels at all three of these stores to be quite good and much cheaper. The only thing I've tried lately that was inedible was a store brand microwave popcorn (don't recall now which one). At the time, the kids were on a popcorn kick and were eating A LOT of it. So I thought I'd try to save some money by buying a cheaper brand. I ended up throwing it away, because it had a horrible chemical smell and taste to it. YUK!