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Which are the best own brands?

publication date: Jan 12, 2009
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If you’ve swopped your regular brands for own brands to cut the cost of your shopping basket, which own brands are the best substitute? Expert taster Martin Isark has the answer.

On his website Isark compares hundreds of own brand products from baked beans to beer and from upmarket retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Waitrose to discounters Aldi, Lidl and Netto. He not only gives each product a mark out of 10 for taste but tells you whether they’re organic, Fairtrade or vegetarian and whether they contain any known allergens such as milk or nuts.

Goodness knows how he finds the time and energy to do it but we should all be grateful that he does.

Surprisingly it’s not always the more expensive supermarkets which get the highest scores. If you take a look at biscuits, for example, you’ll see that Aldi, Asda and Lidl score just as well as M & S at a fraction of the price. And that their basic ranges often outperform their standard lines.

The only weakness of the system I can see is that he omits or retastes products which score less than four out of ten if the supermarket concerned asks him to although if he retastes them and they still score badly, his original score stands. And that his marks are on the generous side - I’d go for products to which he awards 8-10 points.

What the ratings and prices show is that there’s no need to go for heavily advertised brands and that, even when they’re on special offer, own brands may well be cheaper.

An invaluable resource for any student or family on a budget.


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