Money Saving Mum: In Praise of Own Brand Products

In my previous (before marriage and kids) life, I was an auditor (yes I know you wouldn’t believe it to meet me now, but we all have to start somewhere).

One of the more interesting things I got to do in my time was visit a butter factory.  I saw the butter being churned, a small amount of salt added, then it was oozed down a pipe into the packaging.  I saw a certain number of packs of a well known brand being filled, then the machine was stopped, and the same product was filled into packaging that indicated a supermarket own brand.

Up until that point I had always considered supermarket own brand products to be inferior – cheaper, therefore not as good. But one of the factory operatives put me straight in a few matters.   In the case of the butter, there are very clear regulations about what butter is or butter isn’t – you only have to mess with the basic recipe a tiny amount, and you are not allowed to call it butter anymore. So if it says butter on the pack, then it will be pretty much the same butter in the pot or wrapper, whatever the brand is on the label.

This lesson got me thinking.  It doesn’t apply across the board to all products – in many cases the own brand products will be made with cheaper and slightly different ingredients, but quite often they are made in the same factories as the ‘real ‘ stuff, and in many cases will taste quite similar.

In these times of saving money, it is well worth while testing some of the ‘own brand’ equivalents of products that you use regularly , to see which of them will be acceptable to your family.  I am not at all recommending that you should go to own brand in all areas – if your family can notice and don’t like a taste difference then of course you should continue to look for the brand (especially if you can get an offer on it).

In our family, we have successfully switched to own brand on :

  • ketchup
  • baked beans and tinned spaghetti
  • soup
  • orange juice
  • butter (of course)

We have tried but failed with

  • tea
  • coffee
  • most breakfast cereals (although my kids do like Sainsbury’s equivalent of Special K)
  • mayonnaise

Do you use own brands when you shop?  Which are the own brand products that your family particularly likes?  And which branded products can you not live without?



8 thoughts on “Money Saving Mum: In Praise of Own Brand Products

  1. Melanie Edgal

    I have sucessfully used shop brands on:
    Tinned tomatoes
    Toilet paper
    Cleaning products
    Eco toilet cleaner

    Unsuccessfully on
    Cereal (shreddies type)
    Eco washing up liquid

  2. The Singing Mummy

    I always buy own brand, juice, tinned tomatoes, cleaning products, toilet rolls and baby wipes.
    I am scared to try baked beans (just in case they are awful, I am a firm believer that “beans meanz heinz!!” Ha ha!! But I might give it a go!! Have also tried and tested own brands of nappies, some are better than others but I can recommend the Asda’s little Angels range, although I do tend to stick to huggies when they are on offer!

  3. Audrey Ross

    For many people they feel loyal to some things such that when they change anything it just seems different. When changing a brand especially foodstuff you are most likely to notice a difference.

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  6. Claire H

    I once worked for a large food producer and discovered how they too made own brand goods, so have never worried about own branded goods. The only difference for many will be slightly inferior packaging. I use tonnes of supermarket own brands and am now testing out the basic ranges. I must be one of the few that like own brand cereal, I can’t find better than a particular own brand toilet roll and there are some supermarkets whose ethical stance (no animal testing on toiletries and cleaning products) make choosing their products over big brands an easy choice. The only thing I can think of that I haven’t found a good alternative for is tinned sweetcorn but we grow our own fresh in the summer so that’s only a wintertime worry.

  7. Maria

    agree on your unsuccessful ones! I use own brand butter for cooking, own brand washing powder, conditioner, cleaning products, loo paper and some fruit juices too. I find Boots eye make up remover is better than branded versions and cheaper too. It’s definitely worth trying the own brand versions!


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