As household budgets tighten of their own accord, due to rising energy costs driving up the prices of nearly every consumable product, automatically putting brand-name groceries into your shopping cart should become a thing of the past. And for certain types of goods, generic items are equal to their highly marketed counterparts.
For example, some groceries, like single ingredient staples, have to meet federally regulated requirements. These include essential items like sugar, flour, conventional butter and margarine, iodized salt, and many spices and seasonings. If an item on your list has only one ingredient, there’s nothing to be gained by paying more for branded packaging. Five pounds of cane sugar is exactly the same product, no matter who the distributor is.
Another supermarket department that offers generic products of equal quality and greater value is the produce department. So long as the fruits and vegetables themselves are fresh, those with a Chiquita or Sunkist sticker are not worth paying more. The same goes for the comparison between generic organic produce and those with brand-name designations.
And finally, when it comes to basic beauty and skin care products, most generics are back-formulas of popular brands. If a lotion or shampoo has been available for a few years, the contents of the no-frills option are probably indistinguishable from those of the pricier choice.