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Consumer Reports tests store brands versus name brands

Monday, October 15, 2012

Buying store brands instead of name brands can lead to big savings, an average of 25 percent off your grocery bill. But are store brands just as good? Consumer Reports put its testers on the case.

People are buying more store brands these days. And more are coming on the market, everything from cereal to peanut butter and even wine.

"We surveyed subscribers about the store brands they bought and most people were highly satisfied," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports.

To see how store brands stack up against name brands, Consumer Reports did blind tests of 19 pairs of products. Target's Market Pantry Ranch Salad Dressing went up against Hidden Valley Ranch.

"It was a tie," said Adam Kaplan, Consumer Reports. "Quality-wise they're right about the same, but they had different flavors."

Walmart's Great Value battled Nature Valley's granola bar. "Another tie," said Kaplan. "Both were chewy, and they were pretty much the same quality."

And when Clover Valley crackers from Dollar General went up against Sunshine's Cheez-Its. It was a tie again.

But in some cases big-name brands did beat store brands. For example, Tropicana orange juice defeated Nice!, sold at Walgreens. It had a fuller orange flavor.

But in most cases store brands did as well as or better than name brands.

"The bottom line: Store brands are worth a try, and they usually cost a lot less," said Marks.

Consumer Reports says that the savings and quality aren't limited to store-brand foods. For example, both Target's Up and Up paper towels and Walmart's White Cloud toilet paper have rated excellent in Consumer Reports tests.

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