Brand name vs. generic: Is there a difference?
DENVER — What do you buy at the grocery store? Generic or name brand? We took a look the difference in price, taste and nutrition by putting several family favorite foods to the test.
We asked 14 local moms and kids to participate in a taste test.
The group sampled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, cheese and crackers, and ice cream. They tasted a brand name of each, and the generic equivalent from Safeway, King Soopers and Walmart.
They had to rank each item saying which products they liked the best. “I didn’t notice a big difference in some products at all,” said Melanie Shepherd, a local mom. But others disagreed. “Some of the generics were really dry,” said 12-year-old Jake Meyer of Aurora.
When we tallied the votes the brand name product was the favorite in three out of five categories including the macaroni and cheese, the cheese and crackers and the ice cream. But the results were very close.
Plus, the group chose the Safeway brand apple sauce as their favorite, and the King Soopers/Kroger generic as their favorite for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
When it came to price, we found a big difference. Adding up the cost of our entire grocery list, the brand names cost us $29.75. Generics at King Soopers cost $22.22. Generics at Safeway cost $21.51, and generics at Walmart cost $18.13. That’s almost a 40 percent savings. See the exact price comparisons in the chart below.
But is there a reason to spend the extra money?
Moms may think the brand name is more nutritious, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Registered dietician Suzanne Farrell, from Cherry Creek Nutrition, took a look at the products we were testing. “What I found is they are pretty comparable, some are almost identical,” she said.
But Farrell did notice a difference in the grain products. The name brand crackers had more whole grains, and the name brand bread had less sodium. Farrell says generics in general are a good option, just be sure to check the labels and make good decisions. “You won’t have to sacrifice nutrition at all,” Farrell said.