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    Store Brands Go Toe to Toe with Nationals on Quality, Says Consumer Reports

    YONKERS, NY -- Store brands get a shot in the arm from the current issue of Consumer Reports, the shopping advice magazine published by the independent organization Consumers Union here.

    YONKERS, NY -- Store brands get a shot in the arm from the current issue of Consumer Reports, the shopping advice magazine published by the independent organization Consumers Union here.

    In a four-page special report called "Battle of the Brands," Consumers Union testers say in many categories, certain store brands are as good or in many cases better than more expensive national brands. While this might not be a big revelation to the grocery industry, the wringing endorse from Consumer Reports for specific store brands, as well as the segment in general, might go a long way toward convincing greater trial among shoppers.

    The test comprised 65 products in six categories: facial tissues, paper towels, plastic bags, canned peaches, french fries, and yogurt. The private labels in the test ran the gamut of tiers and chains, including Albertson's, America's Choice (from A&P), Kirkland Signature (Costco), Safeway Select, Trader Joe's, and Great Value (Wal-Mart).

    Consumer Reports said it chose categories according to those that visitors to its Website, consumerreports.org, said they buy most often in store brands. In most of the categories, store brands performed at least as well as the big brand competition, which included Kleenex, Brawny, Dannon and Yoplait, and Ziploc. Only in facial tissues did a national brand, Puffs from Procter & Gamble, win the day, the organization said.

    Among the conclusions Consumers Union drew from its testing are:
    -- Many store brands are at least as good as national brands.
    -- Switching to a store brand can cut the cost of a product by as much as half. "We found national brands cost an average of about 25 to 50 percent more than similar-quality store brands," the magazine article said.
    -- The companies that make store brands are often household names, including Sara Lee, Del Monte, and Birds Eye.

    Of the last point, the organization was sure to point out, that store brand items are made to a retailer's specifications, which can lead to changes in ingredients or quality.

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