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    Store Brands Hold Their Own Against National Brands in Taste Tests

    In head-to-head blind taste tests held by Consumer Reports, 23 store-brand foods were rated as tasting as good as -- or better than -- their national-brand counterparts, out of 29 food products.

    In head-to-head blind taste tests held by Consumer Reports, 23 store-brand foods were rated as tasting as good as -- or better than -- their national-brand counterparts, out of 29 food products.

    Participants in the tests liked Archer Farms Chewy Soft Baked cookies from Target, Kirkland Signature Organic Medium Salsa from Costco and Great Value Whipped Topping from Walmart better than competing items from Pepperidge Farm, Old El Paso, Betty Crocker and Kraft.

    “Our tests should erase any lingering doubts that store-brand packaged goods aren’t at least worth a try. In many cases, you’ll save money without compromising on quality,” noted Tod Marks senior project editor at Consumer Reports Shopping.

    The publication’s tests additionally revealed 19 other store-brand foods that tied with their name-brand counterparts on taste, including Duncan Hines Family Style Chewy Fudge and Target’s Market Pantry Fudge brownies, and Grey Poupon and Publix’s GreenWise Market Organic mustard.

    The store-brand foods tested cost an average of 27 percent less than their national-brand competitors, with the largest price difference being 35 cents per ounce for Costco’s vanilla extract vs. $3.34 for McCormick’s. Consumer Reports attributes the price differences to the research, development, and marketing costs spent by national brands.

    “Today’s store brands are not the no-frills generics folks remember from the 70s. They enjoy more prominent placement on shelves, snazzier packaging, more promotion and, in general, higher manufacturing standards than in years past,” said Marks.

    In fact, the latest supermarket survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 70 percent of respondents were highly satisfied with the quality of store brands they’d purchased.

    Despite the popularity of store brands among the tasters, six out of the 29 tests determined that the national brand was better: Ocean Spray Craisins, KC Masterpiece Original barbeque sauce, Oscar Mayer precooked bacon, Quaker Natural Granola Oats, Honey & Raisins cereal, and Kellogg’s Pop Tarts all got the nod over similar store-brand products.

    Consumer Reports estimated that a family of four could save up to $1,168 a year on dinner by substituting store-brand items for national items.

    Complete results of the taste tests and further store brand and grocery product recommendations can be found at www.ConsumerReports.org, as well as in the October 2009 issue of the magazine, which is currently on newsstands.

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