Store Brand vs. Name Brand: How to Decide Which Food to Buy

Updated: May 10, 2023

Replacing name-brand foods with store brands can be a great way to save on grocery costs. And if you shop wisely, you won't have to sacrifice quality for those savings.

The price of food could rise 7.5% in 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). To stick to a budget, it makes sense to look for out-of-the-box ways to save money on groceries.

One possible way to cut back on costs is to swap out the store brand vs. name brand items in your shopping cart. Savvy shoppers in the United States save more than $40 billion each year on grocery and household goods by choosing store-brand products over name-brand counterparts, according to the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA).

Here’s how to save with store-brand products.

Saving Money with Store Brands

Warehouse Retailer Costco Reports Quarterly EarningsJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Across the country, shoppers are facing high prices at the grocery store on a wide variety of products from eggs and milk to meat and pantry staples. So it’s no surprise that the popularity of store brands is on the rise. Store-brand sales increased by 11.3% in 2022, according to PLMA, and one out of every five grocery products sold in the United States is now a store-brand product.

Shoppers could unlock substantial savings by choosing the store brand vs. name-brand products. Those who opt for the store brand save an average of 25% on their purchases, according to Consumer Reports. And in some cases, the savings can far exceed these estimates! There’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that the same manufacturers often produce both the brand-name products and the store-brand products.

Supermarkets like Aldi have long recognized the value in avoiding name-brand items. Ninety percent of products at Aldi are private label, so the chain can offer its customers more affordable prices.

Meanwhile, shoppers and Sam’s Club and Costco have long been fans of the high-quality store-brand products offered by the two membership clubs. Kirkland Signature Brand—the store-brand products at Costco—generated over $58 billion in sales for Costco last year alone. The label is so popular that many Costco shoppers prefer to buy the Kirkland brand.

Store-Brand Items to Buy

Brand Name Vs Generic CerealJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re weighing store-brand vs. name-brand pros and cons, it’s important to understand that you might not make the same decision in every scenario. The trick is to find situations where opting for a store brand doesn’t make a difference in terms of flavor or quality, and enjoy the savings you can unlock. This smart grocery-shopping habit could help you save hundreds of dollars.

There are many store-brand items you can consider to stretch your grocery budget further:

  • Cereal
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.)
  • Soft drinks
  • Frozen foods (e.g., vegetables, fruit, bread, etc.)
  • Staples (e.g., rice, beans, pasta, peanut butter, canned goods, etc.)
  • Baked goods
  • Spices
  • Condiments (e.g., ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, etc.)
  • Paper goods (e.g., paper towels, paper plates, napkins, etc.)
  • Cleaning products

See how generic cereals compare to the name brands.

Store-Brand Items to Skip

Of course, there are situations where the quality or taste of store-brand items may fall short of their name-brand counterparts. Many people have tasted a cake mix or other product where the flavor didn’t live up to the name-brand equivalent. And sometimes the quality of store-brand products can be inferior as well—such as flimsy napkins or paper towels that require you to use double or triple the product to clean up a mess.

There’s no definitive list of generic items you should always skip. For example, a store-brand tomato sauce might taste terrible from one retailer and delicious from somewhere else. As a result, buying private-label items may require some trial and error. (Bonus: If you shop somewhere like Costco, the warehouse store’s generous return policy lets you return items you purchase for virtually any reason—even if you simply didn’t like the way something tastes.)

Generic goods don’t always win in the store-brand vs. name-brand price battle either. Did you know there are some off-brand products that give tough competition to the originals? The next time you’re in the mood for a snack, give these off-brand Cheezits a taste.

The only way to find your ideal brand is to do your own price comparisons to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Sometimes you can find a lower price when you buy brand-name products in bulk or on sale at other retailers compared to private-label products.