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Mom Secretly Tests Store Brands on Her Family

Making a few changes to the shopping list can help save a bundle, and a family saved 33 percent just by swapping out name brands for store brands. TODAY's consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman reports.

Generic vs. Name Brand

Family Tested, Store Brand Approved

This morning in consumer savings…saving money at the grocery store. Maybe you've got your favorite brands, but if you went to the lower cost generic (or store brands), would you notice the difference…except on the bill?

TODAY's consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman sets up a little experiment to help test it out.

The choices you make can save you a lot of money. So, we asked a mom of four girls to try it out. The family discovered that they couldn't tell the difference between most store brands and the name brands they had considered superior.

A good deal is nothing to joke about. Store brands, also known as private-label products, is a multibillion dollar industry.

Store brands now account for about one out of every four products at the supermarket—everything from shredded mozzarella and balsamic vinegar to cereals and baby formula. Stores use private-label products to build customer loyalty. You can get spaghetti anywhere, but you'll only find 365 spaghetti at Whole Foods.

Store-brand foods can save you a bundle at the supermarket—but are you trading quality for price if you substitute them for those name-brand favorites?

Not per Consumer Reports. For example, when it comes to choosing baby formula, consider a store brand. Through a Consumer Reports informal survey of stores around the country, it found that Walmart's store brand of powdered formula (Parent's Choice) was a bargain at a mean price of 57 cents per ounce compared with a leading national brand (Similac Advance), which was selling at Walmart for a mean price of $1.05 per ounce.

Are store brands as nutritious as national brands? All infant formula brands (and this means store brands too) must be as nutritious as the advertised brands. According to FDA standards, all baby formula marketed in the United States must meet the same federal nutrient requirements, which are set at levels to fulfill the needs of infants.

Nationally advertised brand-name formulas and store brand formulas must contain at least the minimum levels of all nutrients specified in FDA regulations.

About Janice Lieberman

Janice Lieberman has earned a reputation as one of broadcasting's leading consumer reporters. It's a skill she first honed as an anchor and reporter at WIVB, Channel 4 from 1983 through 1989. For the past 14 years, Lieberman has been part of NBC News, serving as consumer reporter for The Today Show.

*Total savings with store brand infant formula calculations based on a price per fl oz comparison of store brand infant formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from a March 2017 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.

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