Store Brand or National Brand…This is the Question

5 Oct
Trader Joe's West Hartford

Image via Wikipedia

I do not know what camp you belong to but I find that most people live in the national brand camp or the store brand camp.  In other words, we have a very strong belief that there is a huge benefit of some  kind associated with the consumption of either a familiar brand name product, or with a lesser advertised store brand.  Often this preference is something that has been passed down from one generation to another and like many “traditions” the real reason we do this is less because we know that it is the better choice, and more because it is the way we have always done it.

Recently, motivated by the new economy, I decided it might be interesting to test these assumptions.  Of course, only you can decide what qualities a thing must meet to make it a “value”. We decided that it would be fun to do some head to head, blind taste tests with set criteria to see if our product choices and our “values” matched when we removed our label bias.

We chose three brands of the same product and did a blind, side by side tasting rating each on taste, texture and overall satisfaction.

We would then rank each as  A. The Best  B. The Same Quality, C. Acceptable But Not as Good, D. Not Acceptable.  Of course for some people price became a consideration in making this distinction.  So here we go.

The first tasting consisted of three brands of cottage cheese, Kraft Simply, Trader Joe’s, and Great Value.  All were 4% Milk-Fat.

As we sat down to do the tasting, we were chatting about cottage cheese generally and a comment was made that all cottage cheese was about the same, just something you eat because it supposed to be good for you, not something that you eat because it tastes good.  I, on the other hand, am a fan of cottage cheese, and feel that not all cottage cheese is created equal.  This was going to be interesting.

The mood was amused with a touch of seriousness as we all focused on the characteristics of the white blobs before us.  It is surprising just what you can notice about something when you focus on it.  Talk of graininess, creaminess, tang, and finish floated around the table reminding me of wine tasting parties.

Our panel found that Great Value Brand was creamy with a nice firm texture, and had good flavor, cost = .12 per oz. and had less sodium.  The Trader Joe’s Brand was found to be a bit watery, but had a nice tangy flavor, cost = .10 per oz. and had more calories.  The Kraft Simply was described as dry, grainy, and was found to have an unpleasant after taste, cost = .12 per oz.

When we tallied up the scores we found that we had a clear but surprising winner.  Great Value Brand was chosen as The Best by two tasters and as the Same Quality as Trader Joe’s Brand by the third.  Trader Joe’s Brand was rated as Acceptable but not as Good by two tasters and as you already know, as the Same Quality as Great Value by one taster.  The Kraft Simply was rated Not Acceptable by all three tasters.

Even more interesting was the reaction of one of the tasters when they discovered that they had chosen the  Great Value Brand (Wal-Mart) as a clear winner.  They said  “Oh, It really is the best.  I just wish that they paid their ladies better.”     They seemed sold on the quality, but somewhat sadly so.  It will be interesting to see what cottage cheese makes it into their refrigerator in the future.

This is what we found, but we invite you to share your thoughts of your own  blind, side by side tasting.  If you would like to use the score sheet we created,  just request it in the comments and we will send you one.


4 Responses to “Store Brand or National Brand…This is the Question”

  1. queen of money October 9, 2011 at 9:21 PM #

    okay so I have to agree, great value is my favorite. HEB (south tx only) is to watery for me.

  2. queenoffamilosity October 11, 2011 at 11:01 AM #

    Interesting to hear about regional differences! Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Jimmy October 13, 2011 at 3:31 PM #

    I really like what you are saying, and am glad I found your website. Please keep it up.

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