Are supermarket own-brands a better buy?

We are turning our backs on brands. As the nation collectively tightens its belt, we’re making the switch from the famous shelf staples to supermarkets’ own versions. The cost of our groceries has risen by 5.2 per cent in a year, and a new survey by NielsenIQ showed that last month, as overall supermarket shopping diminished, branded goods had fallen in sales by 5.1 per cent, compared with 1.9 per cent for own-label products.

Supermarkets have done lots of work in terms of tempting us away from familiar labels, trying to inject some premium glamour into their own products with their ‘Finest’, ‘The Best’ and ‘Taste the Difference’ ranges, not to mention packaging and flavour choices that closely mimic iconic brands. But is it just window dressing? Or are they just as good?

The proof of the pudding, and the product, is in the eating. It makes sense to try a swap on your usual brand each week to see if you can tell. You might even prefer the supermarket take.

Don’t underestimate the pull of the packaging either. It takes an effort to bypass friendly, familiar branding, like the design of Lyle’s golden syrup, whose green tin is a mini work of art. But this is no time to be sentimental.

With that in mind, I tried out six mainstream products versus a supermarket competitor. It has certainly given me a brand-new perspective.


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