Generic Groceries

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Thursday, September 29, 2011 - 9:17am

Grocery stores are expending their own brands and the price difference can be big. But what about the quality?

If you're a regular visitor to the grocery aisles perhaps you've noticed how stores from Wal-Mart to target are expanding their brands.

In fact, industry insiders say some of the big names you pay a premium for are in some cases manufacturing virtually the same items for so-called private label brands.

Navigating through your grocery aisles can be a maze of choices for shoppers.

From name brand and private label peanut butters to processed cheeses to whole wheat loaves of bread.

Side by side on shelves, well known manufacturers like General Mills are duking it out with private label brands.

Grocery insiders know some private label products are sometimes even made by brands they're competing against.

Gary Huddleston of Kroger says "in some cases yes the generic brand would be manufactured by a national brand and there may be slight differences in formula."

Gary Huddleston with Kroger won't say which companies manufacture food products for Kroger. But looking at Cherrios versus Kroger's Toasted Oats. The box size and look are nearly identical. Right down to the color packaging. Huddleston says recipies are nearly the same.

Gary Huddleston said "modified corn starch sugar salt, in some cases the formula would be almost identical and it might be a difference in the graphics on the package."

Still discriminating shoppers like Rick Harris stick with his brand

Shopper Rick Harris says "the value is in the taste not in the cost"

Shoppers may be selective. But even Harris' basket's full of cheaper store brand chips. In the war of prices we know who typically wins. Kroger peanut butter sells at 2.18, Jiff at 2.68. Private label 100% whole wheat bread for 1.79 versus Nature's Own at 2.99.

Private label aspirin versus Bayer with the same ingredients, the price difference not nearly as big a break. But grocery store yogurts in a six pack are competing with name brands offering deals as well.

Industry expert Bill Bradshaw works for Buxton, a leading industry grocery research company based in Fort Worth. He says there are huge names in the private label biz.

Bill Bradshaw says "there are a few out there like ConAgra foods who is a very well known private brand manufacturer also"

They manufacture well known products from Orville Redenbacker popcorn to Healthy Choice. But products only build a following when they taste good, and that's where brands know private labels are working hard to lure customers away.
 

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