6 Under-the-Radar Grocery Store Brands You Must Try
These days, thanks to rising inflation and supply chain issues, shoppers are feeling a squeeze on their wallets at the grocery store. As a result, private-label brands, the brands that are owned by the grocery stores themselves, are enjoying a moment of massive popularity. According to one survey, almost 90% of consumers are favoring private-label brands because they see them as a better value compared to national brands. Several of them have earned the top spot in blind taste tastes at Kitchn, too.
Over the past two years, national consumer packaged goods (CPGs) have taken a hit because companies have increased prices, limited promotions, and eliminated certain SKUs, even dropping products that were relatively popular (RIP, Choco Taco). In response to this, grocery stores swooped in with their own private-label products, and it appears that consumers are more than happy to try something new. But which private-label brands are worth making the switch? Here are six store brands to get to know this fall.
Publix’s GreenWise brand is all about its standards, which include products (like cookies, chips, cereal, beans and grains, sauces, and condiments) without artificial preservatives, colors, and flavoring that are made with at least 70% organic ingredients, plus meats raised without antibiotics or added hormones.
And while GreenWise is the star of Publix’s private-label offerings, there’s also a Publix brand, and Publix Premium, and I’d be remiss if I let you miss out on the Publix Premium line of ice creams, which are all made in-house using high-quality ingredients. A Publix employee first pointed out the ice cream selection to me, and his enthusiasm was infectious (I bought a gallon on the spot). He shared his top pick — a seasonal flavor called Santa’s White Christmas — that’s made with Barnie’s Santa’s White Christmas coffee and espresso chips and I’m forever grateful to him for that.
2. The Fresh Market
The Fresh Market, a gourmet grocery store with 159 locations along the East Coast and Midwest, elevates the private-label game with its in-house bakery, market meal kits, and more. In the grocery section, TFM’s private-label sauces, like Hawaiian Teriyaki and Maple Balsamic Dressing, offer a more affordable alternative to the high-end national products the store also sells.
My personal favorite of TFM’s offerings are the “All Dressed” chips — perfectly thin and crunchy potato chips that are tangy and maybe a little smoky and definitely a should-have-picked-up-two-bags experience. But where The Fresh Market’s private-label brand shines the brightest is in the bakery, where an impressive array of pastries and cakes are baked fresh daily.
3. Simple Truth
Kroger’s Simple Truth line competes in just about every category in the store: fresh produce, meat, snack foods, and more. At our house, we always pick up Simple Truth milk, which is consistently $2.00 cheaper per half-gallon than the name brand milk we like. Because we go through a lot of milk, that adds up to about $8 a week in savings just on milk alone.
Simple Truth is also our go-to brand for other items we buy regularly, like blueberries and seedless mini cucumbers and the brand also has some great freezer finds, including frozen fruit and vegetables and dessert items, like ice cream and Popsicles.
4. Great Value
Walmart’s private-label brand, Great Value, is the result of meticulous research by the category managers who are responsible for stocking and merchandising Walmart’s grocery department. The line of products includes staple items that are consistently about half the price of the name brands.
Great Value is a smart choice for items like oil, condiments, and canned vegetables, but what I love most about the brand is the vast selection of baking novelties: sprinkles, frosting, and even cupcake liners. If you were to shop for name-brand items in this category, you’d see that the prices add up quickly. Great Value competes directly with the name-brand products and even offers a fun selection of seasonal goodies.
5. Thrive Market
Because the mission of online retailer Thrive Market centers around sustainability, quality, and affordability, it’s no surprise that the company’s four private-label brands excel at offering alternatives to name-brand products that cater to a variety of diets and lifestyles, like organic, gluten-free, vegan, and keto.
For my first Thrive Market order, I focused on the Thrive Market Goods line, snagging things like olive oil, coconut milk, canned tuna, and organic olives. While the discounts aren’t as obvious as, say, Walmart’s Great Value brand, the products themselves are interesting and varied, and there is still definitely a savings. This is a great choice for folks with specific dietary preferences who are looking for competitively priced options.
6. 365 by Whole Foods
Whole Foods describes its private-label, 365, as “the splurgiest way to save,” and I appreciate the honesty there. Walking into Whole Foods you know you’re not going to find the cheapest products in town, but 365 is a way to get Whole Foods’ quality for a little bit less.
The 365 products are clearly competing head-to-head with national brands. When Eggo discontinued the Nutri-Grain Blueberry Waffles, a staple in our freezer, it was Whole Foods 365 blueberry waffles to the rescue. Taking a page from the Trader Joe’s playbook, Whole Foods also offers a good selection of limited-edition seasonal products. Right now, that means a lot of pumpkin spice, which you can find in pancake mixes, cookies, and coffee, to name a few.
What store-brand groceries are you regularly adding to your cart? Tell us in the comments below.