Grocery Stores And Chains
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ByD. Sciortino|March 29, 2023 12:31 pm EST
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It can feel easier to spring for the biggest or most recognizable brands during a trip to the grocery store since there's less mystery around such a big name. But with so many options in play, consumers can be savvier when it comes to their purchases — it's not hard to find flavorful financial relief by opting for supermarket private label brands instead. In fact,most shoppers are likely to stick to private label food brands over all others.
These private labels, known as generic brands, offer a wide array of pantry basics and duplicate products from your favorite big-name retailers at lower prices. Some grocers are even going above and beyond by introducing affordable organic and gourmet lines. And these offerings just keep on growing, much to the delight of thrifty shoppers.
It's working out well for the grocery stores too. In 2021, these private labels generated $40.4 billion in refrigerated foods, $33.8 billion in general foods, and $25.2 billion in general merchandise, according to Statista. Still, these supermarket brands make up about one-fifth of total sales in the industry or 17.4%, per Numerator. This is compared with branded products that account for 82.6% of sales. But who is the best among the best when it comes to these generic lines? Here's our ranking.
12. Trader Joe's Brand
Fans of Trader Joe's aren't just loyal customers — they've been deemed "fanatics." Much of the company's cult-following is due to its fun atmosphere and a wide array of products under the company's private label brand. "What consumers discovered is, you know what, I'm going to get the same product at a lower price and a better shopping environment at Trader Joe's," brand-growing expert Denise Lee Yohn told CNBC Make It.
Customers know they can count on Trader Joe's for the freshest produce and flowers at fair prices. Unfortunately, the store doesn't have everything you might need during a standard trip to the supermarket, making it necessary to visit a second store or place an online order for things like trash bags. But we still flock to Trader Joe's anyway because its amazing private label line trumps convenience. Numerator estimates that 59.4% of the company's sales come from its own line of products, making it clear that Trader Joe's private label brand is a fan favorite.
11. ShopRite Bowl & Basket
Shoppers declared ShopRite as the "Most Trusted Grocery Retailer in the Northeast" in a 2022 survey by BrandSpark International. It was also listed among stores that offered the freshest produce and most valuable circulars in the group's 2023 survey. So, the supermarket chain, which Wakefern Food Corp owns, is known as a place where shoppers can get everything they need in one trip at reasonable prices. But in 2019, the grocer upped its game massively by introducing its own private label brand, Bowl & Basket. Not only does it offer lower prices on staples than traditional brands, but it also stays on top of trends to turn your favorite overpriced products into ones you can afford.
Bowl & Basket came out with its own line of liquid coffee creamer, which includes popular flavors like Italian Sweet Cream, which is typically cheaper thanbrands like Nestlé Coffee Mate.The private label brand also came out with its own version of Balanced Breaks, referred to as Cheese Snacks, that come in the same flavor combos like pepper jack cheese with raisins and honey-roasted peanuts. These also cost less than the big brand names. We know those savings add up, which is one of the reasons we are grateful for this brand. So, we were very excited to learn that the company islooking for more manufacturers to expand the Bowl & Basket line further.
10. Target Good & Gather
The fact that we can grab a ream of paper, a new outfit, and groceries for dinner in the same place is just one of the many reasons Target holds a special place in our hearts.With that type of convenience, you'd expect to be overcharged for lesser-quality food items. But that's not the case, thanks to theGood & Gather line. It offers all the affordable staples you need but made with wholesale chemical-free ingredients.
Good & Gather was introduced in 2019 to offer seasonal, standard, and organic products that are free of artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors. The line also omits high fructose corn syrup. Another great thing is that it offers easy meal options for when you want to cook up something healthy and fast, like its avocado toast salad kit or the heat-and-serve poblano mac and cheese.
"This is one of the best I've ever tried. If you like avocado and ranch flavor, this is a win," saida customer of the salad kit. "The little toast bites make this salad super good," said another.Reddit is chock full of praises for Good & Gather. "I love their granola and snacks (popcorn, cheese puffs). The 20% organic discount hasn't made price an issue for me, and it's encouraged me to choose organic food more often, so I'll give Target credit this time," one Redditor wrote.
9. Costco Kirkland Signature
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When there's mention of generic brand names, Kirkland Signature is probably one of the first that comes to mind. Not only do people get to score extra savings by buying in bulk at Costco — along with free snacking samples — but those savings are doubled when you pick up items from the company's own line of products, which were introduced in 1995.
CNN Business says that the membership club's generic items can deliver 10% to 50% in savings compared to what leading retailers charge. And Costco will make a Kirkland Signature version of a product if the big-name brand refuses to sell it in the store or if it simply costs too much. That's how we ended up with the wide array of offerings, from rotisserie chickens to golf clubs and hard seltzers, that we're delighted to see on the membership club's shelves.
Customers have found that the generic brand offers even tastier items than the leading retailers. One shopper on Reddit touted the private label's cheese pizza as "one of their favorite frozen pizzas," giving it a rating of 9 out of 10 stars, adding, "the sauce is flavorful, the edge of the crust is nice and crispy, and you get four pizzas in one box. I would definitely recommend it." The brand also provides extraordinary value when it comes to its Kirkland line of alcohol, which has become a cult favoriteand is big with bartenders.
8. BJ's Wellsley Farms
BJ's Wholesale Club's Wellsley Farms comes in right on the heels of Kirkland Signature. It is one of two private label brands in the wholesale chain. In addition to great value, you know you're also guaranteed quality with this generic line. BJ's thoughtfully selects suppliers and continually audits them to ensure the reliability of its products. "What's why we take extra-special care to ensure that they meet the highest standards of excellence by adhering to strict quality control guidelines for our ingredients and packaging," the company's website writes. It even goes as far as to offer a full refund to customers who aren't 100% satisfied with their Wellsley Farms items.
One of our favorite aspects of the line is that there's a Wellsley Farms version of pretty much any product you need. It hasorganic items and even specialized items like non-GMO sensitive baby formula.Not only will the line carry most of what you're looking for, but these items are also exceptional in taste. Wine Enthusiast rated the line's 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon as a "Best Buy."And customers tout its ice cream line is just as tasty as the big-name brands, with one Reddit user saying, "I've had vanilla and cookies and cream and they were both good. The cookies and cream is def in my top three with Tillamook and Breyers."
7. Aldi Simply Nature
Despite being a German-based retailer, Aldi earned its place as America's most popular grocery store in 2022 (per YouGov) and the most trusted in 2023 per BrandSpark International. The chain is renowned for its low prices. One of the reasons Aldi is so cheap is that 90% of the items it carries belong to its own brands. Numerator estimates that about 77.5% of all sales are generated by its private label product lines.
"We've helped people understand that brand name does not define quality. In fact, we are proud to say that 1-in-3 Aldi-exclusive product is award winning," the company's website states. The chain is so confident in its store brand products that it will refund your money and give you a replacement product if you're not satisfied with your purchase.
Aldi has several private label brands, but our favorite is Simply Nature, which guarantees its items as free of preservatives and artificial ingredients. These products are also either organic or non-GMO — sometimes both. While many of us would like to purchase groceries that are good for us and the planet, they can be expensive. However, Aldi's Simply Nature makes them super affordable. The brand also makes it possible for us to indulge in a Thin Crust Three Cheese Pizza without having to worry about all the junk that's packed into it or emptying your wallet.
6. Publix Brand
Publix is another well-loved grocery chain with several private label brands to choose from. If we have to choose our favorite, we have to go with Publix Premium, which was initially introduced in 1994 and relaunched in 2002. Publix Premium offers high-end, epicurean offerings with innovative flavor pairings for those looking for "superior quality," allowing customers to indulge in gourmet experiences at every meal.Its frozen pizzas include pairings like pork-cauliflower sausage, kale, cranberries, and honey crème fraîche sauce over a thin-crust base.
Customers are also big fans of this private label line because of its ice cream. "My wife and my daughter both lose their minds over the Chocolate Trinity but I am really digging the Limited Edition Caramel Coast Getaway," wrote one customer on Reddit.In addition to offering frozen meals, meat, desserts, several types of upscale wines, and even breakfast products, you'll also find this label attached to things like eyelash curlers and napkins.
5. Whole Foods 365
Whole Foods is known for being pricier than your average grocery store. But the chain's enticing salad bar and variety of unique products that promote sustainability make it hard for many to keep away. Thankfully, the company's 365 by Whole Foods Market private label makes it affordable for us to keep shopping at America's "first and only certified organic national grocer."The 365 line offers certified organic or non-GMO products at wallet-happy prices.We can also rest easy knowing that more than 260 artificial ingredients have been kicked to the curb.
Perhaps the best part of this brand is that items are responsibly sourced to consider the worker, animal welfare, and the environment. With 365, you can always expect a high-quality, delightfully tasting product. One item 365 does exceptionally well is its cold-pressed Mediterranean blend of extra virgin olive oil. Discounted olive oil can be really bitter, but not this one. It has an 85% five-star rating on Amazon, with customers saying it has "surprisingly good flavor. Rich, with a nice peppery finish. Very reasonably priced." Another reviewer added,"Yummy as drizzle on anything also good for cooking and baking."
4. Kroger Private Selection
Kroger has lots of wallet-happy options for those with an elevated palate, thanks to its Private Selection line. The grocer describes the line, which was introduced in 2000, as "next-level," and we couldn't agree more. We're always coming across joy-sparking items like the non-GMOassorted macaronsthat include flavors like blood orange.
It also has reasonably priced black or white truffle-infused olive oil. Kroger's website includes reviews directly on some of the product pages. "This oil tastes so good drizzled on my pizza, over my steak, and on cauliflower," one customer wrote. Another customer praised the line on Reddit for its simple ingredients after purchasing the Peach Carolina Reaper Wing Sauce, saying, "Very pleasing peach at first, then an abrupt u-turn into a tasty scorching. Decent, pronounceable ingredients."
And what's even better is that the line is expanding. Kroger announced in October 2022that it's looking for more products to add to theprivate label brand. "At Kroger, we're constantly innovating, studying customer data and working to stay ahead of trends so we can provide customers with the highest-quality products they're looking for at affordable prices," said Juan de Paoli,vice president ofKroger's Our Brands in a statement posted on Linkedin.
3. Safeway Signature Select
The president of Albertson's Own Brands, Geoff White, explained that the grocery chain's Signature Select brand isn't like "your parents' store brands anymore." Instead of your standard generic label, this one focuses on staying on top of the latest culinary trends while including special seasonal, ethnic, and vegetarian options. Items like the Citrus & Herb Spatchcock Chicken are simply divine to both your eyes and taste buds. It's a masterpiece in a bag that can quickly be cooked to offer your family and guests an incredibly impressive meal.Cheapism touted the company's Five Cheese Pizza as"way ahead of Red Baron and Totino's" and even better than Trader Joe's.
Our favorite is the ice cream which is often updated with new options. It comes in fun flavors like Monster Cookie with peanut butter ice cream, a cookie swirl, and candy-coated chocolate pieces. For the more sophisticated palette, offerings includeLemon Cheesecake, with cheesecake-flavored ice cream, a lemon-flavored swirl, and lemon cheesecake pieces.
2. The Fresh Market
This gourmet grocer offers a high-end selection of food and produce and boasts its private label as being superior in quality to big-name brands. "Consumers typically view store brands as generic versions of well-known brand names, but it is the opposite with The Fresh Market. In order for us to put our name on a product, it has to be better than the best-selling brand in that category," The Fresh Market's director of the private label told the Progressive Grocer.
The Fresh Market's brand offers everyday staples with an edge, whether in diverse flavors, ingredient quality, or taste. You'll also find exciting seasonal or limited-time-only items. The company had more than 60 pumpkin-flavored items available in the fall of 2019. In addition to its finely curated items, this private line also offers bakery items and meal kits, which are life-changing. The Fresh Market's gourmet meal kits serve two and can create delectable dinners like Thai Coconut Shrimp with Noodles & Vegetables or Bombay Salmon that are ready in about 20 minutes.
1. Walmart Great Value
Walmart already does a great job of providing its customers with low prices. It gets even more affordable when buying from one of its private label lines. And most of the time, you get what you pay for. But there are some Great Value items that offer just that — a great value. At least, its customers think so. According to Store Brands, the conglomerate's generic brand rakes in more than $27 billion annually. Numerator estimated that 72.7% of shoppers in America buy Great Value products.
Some customers say that certain products are even better than the popular brand-name ones. "For some reason I like the great value cherry 'toaster pastries' way better than the actual Pop Tart brand ones," one said on Reddit. Other shoppers say that they prefer Great Value products when it comes to certain things like dessert. "Great Value ice cream is smooth, milky, aromatic, and does not cut corners in terms of its ingredients (strawberry ice cream has a lot of strawberries in it, same for cookie dough, butter pecan, etc.)," one commented on Reddit. It might not be the fanciest brand, but it certainly is budget and flavor friendly.