How Do Store Brands Differ From Name Brands?

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Store brands can be cheaper, healthier, and even made by the name-brand competitor.

The Associated Press took a look after noticing store brands are trying to boost their image…

Safeway, for example, offers versions of Doritos, Cheetos and other salty snacks. But rather than merely imitating the look of their big-name counterparts, the “Snack Artist” line comes in distinctive, earth-tone bags made to look more like a premium brand. The Safeway logo appears only a small strip at the bottom.

Aside from the packaging, the major difference is usually price. Depending on the product, there may not be any real difference in quality. ConAgra’s CEO admits in the story that “for some product lines, there are no changes made [between name and store brands] until the very end, when a different seasoning or packaging is applied.”

It often is name-brand companies making store brands side-by-side in their factories, and that’s one reason supermarkets don’t like to reveal where their brands come from. It’s somebody else stocked on their shelves. But not always – the AP says some are made by niche businesses that focus on making store brands in a particular category, like frozen food. And some chains, like Safeway and Kroger, actually do make some of their own stuff.

Companies like Whole Foods are also looking at ways to make their store brands more competitive: ways to actually improve over the name brand. When they develop a store-brand alternative, they often use “a registered dietitian on staff [who] works with the grocer’s suppliers to see if there are ways to lower sodium or fat content.”

Store brands still have a lot of room to grow: 8 out of 10 packaged foods in the U.S. still come with a brand-name label.

Stacy Johnson

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