Consumer Reports Test Again & Again – Can You Guess the Results?

In yet another example of news entities stating or re-stating the obvious – Consumer Reports‘ has once again conducted blind taste-tests of 19 Private Brand and name brand grocery staples, store brands tied name brands for taste in ten instances, with one product, Giant Eagle chicken broth, beating out its name-brand counterpart, Swanson.  Switching from name brand to Private Brand products can save consumers an average of 25%.

“Readers have been telling us for years that they are very satisfied with the quality of the store brands at their supermarket and our latest taste-tests confirm that store brands are often times just as good as national brands,” said Tod Marks, senior project editor for Consumer Reports. “These products can be a big relief on your wallet in these tough economic times, and they’re not just a temporary fix – private-label products are here to stay.”

A complete list of the Private Brand and name brand winners and losers, along with notable taste and nutritional differences, can be found online at and in the October issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale Tuesday, September 4th.

While many of the store brands were as tasty as the name-brand alternatives, Consumer Reports found that a tie in quality did not necessarily indicate flavors or styles were identical. While Freihofer’s wheat bread and Hy-Vee wheat bread tied in taste-tests, Freihofer’s has mild grain and malt flavors while Hy-Vee has a sourdough-like flavor.

Giant Eagle chicken broth was the only store-brand to top its name-brand competition, beating out Swanson chicken broth. Wegmans peanut butter, Meijer cranberry juice, Winn-Dixie Greek yogurt and Market Pantry classic ranch dressing (Target) were among the ten Private Brands to tie their name brand rivals Skippy peanut butter, Ocean Spray cranberry juice, Chobani Greek yogurt and Hidden Valley ranch dressing, respectively.

Eight name brands came out on top in Consumer Reports’ taste-off, including Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream over Kroger Private Selection, Stouffer’s lasagna over Eating Right lasagna (I am not sure why these to where compared as the Eating Right brand is focused on eating better – it seems like a miss match) and Quaker oats over Publix Old Fashioned oats.

Many national brands also produce and package a wide variety of Private Brand products, including Hormel (canned meats, bouillon and desserts), Marcal (paper towels, tissues and napkins) and Reynolds (foil, plastic wrap, disposable plates and cups).  There are rarely any clues to a Private Brand ‘s heritage, and suppliers can change at any time. There’s also no guarantee that national brands simply slap different labels on products rolling off the same assembly line.

As retailers tap into product categories that lack clear national-brand leaders, it gives consumers more choices, including “upper tier” Private Brand products. But with these fancier store brands, along with a current rise in the cost of commodities, exacerbated by drought, the price gap between store brands and name brands could be narrowing.

For more information on the results of the store-brand versus name-brand taste-off, including prices per serving and a list of other highly-rated store-brand products worth trying, visit or check out the October issue of Consumer Reports.

Previous articleJewel-Osco Promotes Essential Everyday
Next articleCanadian Supreme Court To Hear Private Brand Appeal
Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.