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No name brands (store brands)

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Are store brands cheap all around? Some stores claim that the "house" brand is just as good in quality but cheaper. Others say that the house brand is better that the national brands. It is very frustrating that they are not consistent. Who had strong house brands? Wal-mart is all over the place and seems just plain cheap. Costco Kirkland brands on the other hand kick butt. Many item i can return if they stick but food items are a different story. Should i stay clear of house brands altogether? Who's are the best? Whos just plain stink?

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  1. If Publix offers a product in any food category that I'm shopping for I'll buy theirs (except in the rare case when it's more expensive.) They are as good or better in almost every case and often significantly cheaper. Kroger and Walmart house brands are usually inferior. Target house brands are usually good and often a good value.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Cameraman

      Funny you should mention Publix, I was just thinking they are a hit or miss for me. What do you like from Publix? We should compare notes.

      I have yet to find something from Harris Teeter or Target that wasn't good. Costco is great because some of the time they tell you what brand the product was before being repackaged with the Kirkland label. I also like Whole Foods for low salt & organic canned items, the 365 line is usually as cheap or cheaper than other grocery store house brands. Unfortunately I don't have one close to me, but Trader Joe's has made a lot of money with virtually nothing but house brands.

      1. re: Cameraman

        My notoriously picky husband loves the Publix orange juice. I've also had good luck with their goat cheese, honey, and frozen plantains.

        My big complaint about Target-Archer Farms is that they tend to discontinue the good stuff. I'd love to find out who made their olive oil potato chips and whole wheat pasta, to start.

        1. re: beachmouse

          I love Publix OJ. Kirkland has some fantastic brands, especially the olive oil. I don't have anything bad to say about Target's house brands- Market Pantry/Archer Farms. It does seem like things come and go pretty quickly with Archer Farms, however. I am not typically into potato chips, but I love the Archer Farms varieties. When I was in the UK, I thought a lot of the Sainsbury's house brand stuff was pretty good.

          1. re: queencru

            ITA about the Archer Farms/Market Pantry. I've bought a lot of those products and almost without exception we've been very happy. I don't buy products with HFCS and notice that AF products don't seem to include that as an ingredient.

            But you're right that they can have a product one week and have it discontinued the next. I bought a clearanced creme caramel ice cream sauce and it was soooo good, now they don't carry it any more.

            And they do have some awesome potato chip flavors!

        2. re: Cameraman

          Agree with you on Kroger. Most of the Kroger house items are inferior. Their canned beans always clump at the bottom of the can. Their Big K sodas go flat much sooner than national brands once opened. And Kroger has big labeling issues -- just one example, I bought several cans of tomatoes on sale labeled "whole" and "no salt" only to find full-sodium puree once I opened them. But our Kroger does carry some of the President's Choice items and those, especially the ice cream, are quite good.

        3. in Canada, President Choice in Loblaws/Superstores,etc..I find superior to brand names...otherwise I tend to stick to brand names..

          1. I also wanted to mention..I once worked for a large drug store chain. Their "house brand" was the exact product from the brand name. We bought the product from the manufacturer and sold it in our packaging.
            This is done all the time...often the brand name and store brand have the exact same product inside..

            1. I usually take a chance, and buy *one* of the house brand (one can, one box, one bottle), and see what it's like. For example, green relish - I've found the house brands contain significantly more of the miracle ingredient "water", which adds bulk and volume at very little cost. On the other hand, I've found the canned corn house brands are just as good as the name brands - crisp and sweet. Baked beans - national brands are better. Yellow mustard - I refilled my name brand squeeze bottle from a "no name" container, and no one has ever mentioned the difference. Frozen vegetable mixes (california or italian mix) - I like the name brands better. So, it's hit and miss, and if you don't mind experimenting, you can find some good substitutes.

              And I totally agree with burlgurl - President's Choice products are not only superior to "house" or "no name" brands, they are often superior to national brands. Their "Just Peanuts" peanut butter is better than anything from Kraft, Jif, or Skippy. PC "Fibre First" cereal fits into my low-carb diet better than anything from Post or General Foods. I have yet to be disappointed by a PC product.

              1. House brands have really improved over the past decade or so. Wegman's products, for example, are often outstanding, and always a good value. Harris-Teeter's are generally good too.

                At Costco, often they just slap Kirkland on name-brand products, like Mariani dried fruits, so you know what you're getting is first-rate. But some of the just plain Kirkland stuff, like canned tuna or salmon, rocks the house too.

                1. Whole Foods house brand soups are a quality value.By no means home made,are just fine for lunch.Safeway in the DC area is doing a good job with house brand organic products.An above average product at a competative price.I have tried so few branded prepared foods I also have to ask around.

                  1. It's been years (10? 20?) since the days of generic or off-branded inferior grocery products. The Canadians got in the game in the late 80's or early 90's producing superior quality items without the marketing costs. Many "house" items now beat out name brands in blind tests.

                    1. Stop and shop's house organic brand, Nature's Promise, is consistently good. I especially prefer their dairy products over the national brands.

                      1. We've tried a lot of Target's "Archer Farms" products, in a lot of different categories. All of them have been good to excellent.

                        1. I believe the store brands are packaged at the same plant as the national brands so, why not save some cash.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cstr

                            I do the same as KevinB and try "one" of something and go from there.

                            1. re: cstr

                              That may be, but I also think that the chains can specify different quality levels or ingredient levels or whatever, so it isn't identical to the name brand. I always stick with Kirkland as it seems their specs are higher than the name brands.

                            2. Just about anything that Wegman's has in a house brand is as good as the brand name products. I have no hesitation trying any of their house branded items.

                              1. My rule is life is too short for cheap toilet paper. Most other things are fair game.

                                I try any canned bean, and I'm into trying unusual things found in the "ethnic" aisle most are un-brand brands. I look at ingredients-so if the cheaper one has unrequired sugar or fake junk, saturated crap, etc- back on the shelf it goes no matter what the brand. There's some fine Publix brands, but I've got to have standard Cheerio's because I can totally tell a difference. Store brand tortilla shells have been shockingly lousy, but I'm zen with 'woven wheats' instead of Triscuits. Just take a chance sometimes. And never say 'how can they screw up butter?" because they CAN!
                                There is a store here called Save-a-Lot that I think is ALL un-brand brands. I haven't been in there yet, our neighbor goes and says a few things are fine.

                                1. I've never been much of a national brand guy, since it's been obvious Forever that much of their high cost is advertising. I patronize discount stores mostly since they have similar products at prices much lower than supermarkets.
                                  However, you must be willing to be picky and to shop at multiple stores weekly.
                                  - My local Kroger (Food4Less) has very good selection at lower prices than any super.
                                  - I was disappointed but not surprised in my first visit to a super Wal-Mart. They carry mostly overpriced national brands. Produce was priced higher than FFL! The meat, dairy, bread have OK house brand options. What a waste of real estate.
                                  - Discount (in my area Latino oriented) markets have more limited selection but even better prices. For the most part, the quality is comparable to supers. Produce isn't as pretty but, if timed right, is actually ripe. Be picky with meat, some is previously frozen.
                                  - Fresh and Easy just opened nearby. Good quality but priced like TJ's, in between supers and discounts. For now, just go there for the great $2.29 mayo.
                                  - Costco has been good but the one near me keeps replacing good house and regional brands with lower quality ones (but better margins I'll bet). OK for prescriptions, TP and towels. Almost off my radar for food.
                                  - I've been loyal to TJ's since the beginning, but lately they've gone too much for preprepared food targeted at people too busy to PLAN AHEAD. Prices have jumped severely in the last two years - how can a regular jar of mayo now cost more that anyone? Good for ethnic stuff, dairy, bread if you live in a tidy w* suburb like my mom.
                                  - Whole Foods - the open bin stuff like ww flour and gluten is very good value. Even more aggressive than TJ at targeting upscale, planning deficient demographic. The new store near me (El Segundo) is more like a restaurant than a grocery store.

                                  House brands are fine, just stick with the ones that work for you. National brands can be good but are usually way, way, way overrated.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                    I'v e been simarly dissapointed by Walmart across the board. We have a small chain called Hyvee that have great store brand petit cut tomatoes. For winter pico.... they seem to work better than the bigger brands.

                                  2. I agree that Costco's Kirkland brand is pretty good. I sometimes like Dominick's Organics brand. It's all give or take, but it's definitely always cheaper so it could be worth a shot!