Posted by: Kelsey Avers | February 15, 2010

Generic Brand vs. Name Brand: Is there really a difference?

When I started doing my own grocery shopping after moving out on my own, I paid much more attention to exactly how much these everyday products were costing me, and started comparing prices between the name brand of spaghetti sauces, breads, cheese, etc., and the generic brand of these foods. Sometimes the difference was just a few cents, but I know how that few cents can add up over time. So the question here is, when it comes to food, are brand name products really that much better?

My personal opinion: NO.

The ingredients are the same
Generic and name brand products contain the same ingredients, although the quality of the generic brands might be slightly less. The question of which products taste better is a matter of personal opinion. If you think too hard about the fact that it’s a generic brand spaghetti sauce that you’re eating, you might notice a very slight difference in texture or taste, but if you were given a blind taste test, you’d likely not notice any different. This is what Joey Morona did in his article, Taste test: Sampling generic vs. name-brand groceries. The study’s results were varied, but as were the participants. See this chart for his formal results.

You’re paying more for the label
Paying for the label The price you pay for the brand name items also go toward the labeling. Cereals are a great example of this, not just because of the popularity of cereal, but also the rising prices of brand name cereals. I’m sure that the image of Snap, Crackle and Pop hovering over a nice big bowl of Kellog’s Cocoa Krispies is going to be appealing to the eye and result in you buying the brand name cereal. But what doesn’t appeal to the eye is the bag of Safeway Select (generic brand) Chocolate Crispy Rice Cereal further down the aisle. The bag is bigger than the box, but the labeling is simple and boring, with no decoration or variety of color. Many times that I’ve seen these bags in different grocery stores they’re either in the very corner of the aisle on a lower shelf, or some kind of advertising display is blocking them. But I always find them, because I know they’ll save me money, and taste exactly the same.

The name brand company is making the generic brand food
Yup, that’s right. The big secret has been revealed, but still some people don’t believe it, and continue to pay for the more expensive name brand products. People feel more comfortable buying the “better brands” without taking the time to compare prices and/or quality. Advertising (that YOU are really paying for, not the name brand companies themselves) plays a huge role in this.

Nancy over the the Zimmer Zoo blog tells of her experience when she decided to give generic brands a chance for the sake of saving cash in her blog. A.J., an self-proclaimed amateur foodie, tells of her similar experience here.


Have you had an experience trying to decide between generic food brands and name brand items? What were the results of price, taste, etc?



  1. I am not a college student, but I am a mother/aunt who still feeds locust like kids, who devour everything in sight. And I have been known to cut a few corners when feeding “my locusts” on the weekends that I am blessed to have them all at my table. BUT, I do believe there is a taste difference between generic and name brand. It is just “my locusts” are too busy devouring anything in front of them to take the time to actually notice the difference. But when cooking for less than the front line of an Ice Hockey Team, I do not skimp. I just think the name brand does have a richer taste, and the consistency of the product is much better compared to the generic brand. Just one Ice Hockey (and Journalist’s) Aunt’s opinon.

  2. […] The name of the product doesn’t make the food inside taste any better or worse. Stick to generic brands, and you can save almost half the cost on some […]

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