Battle of the brands

How do the supermarket brands compare with the market leaders for taste, nutrition and value for money?
 
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04.About the rest

supermarket-lead

While it wasn't possible to put every product purchased to the taste test, we did size up all products for their nutritional value, using the nutrition label as our guide. See our full table of results below. Of course, the level of salt, sugar and fat in a product wont give you any indication of how good it tastes. In fact our taste test demonstrates that the healthiest product does not necessarily taste great. A study of the ingredients can often help indicate whether enough good quality ingredients have been used.

However, if you want to buy on nutritional value, here are some of our findings:

 

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Buy these products on price

While there may be ingredient differences between brands, we found this had little impact overall on the key nutrients we reviewed for almost half the items. Tim Tam-style biscuits, white and multigrain bread, butter, cornflakes and Weet-Bix-style cereals, apple juice, milk, frozen mixed vegetables, penne pasta, ham, tinned tuna in brine and spreads are all nutritionally comparable between brands, so for these items you should buy on price or taste.

For example, a 1.12kg pack of Aldi’s GoldenVale Wheat Biscuits costs $2.89 compared with $4.99 for the same size Coles Whole Wheat Biscuits. You can also save $3.40 by purchasing a 1kg pack of CSB or WHB frozen mixed veg rather than the same size pack of McCain Traditional Favourites.

Nutritional Better Buys

For almost half of the food items reviewed, some brands do stand out as having the nutritional edge over others, although these brands vary from item to item – and for some items there are multiple “better buy” brands.
Plain water crackers: WHB is the only cracker with a green light for saturated fat content.
Crumbed fish portions: Encouragingly, all surveyed products were low in saturated fat and sugar, and amber for sodium content. Coles steals ahead to be the Nutritional Better Buy with only 2.5g total fat, compared with 9.8g–10.5g per 100g in the other brands.
Low-fat mayonnaise: Aldi and WHB are Nutritional Better Buys, scoring an amber light for sodium with levels of 370mg/100g and 538mg/100g respectively. Sodium levels above 720mg/100g give the rest a red light. See our test of mayonnaise for helpful hints on what to look for.
Instant chicken noodles: Aldi’s, Coles’ and the leading brand’s (Maggi) 2-minute noodles are Nutritional Better Buys than the other three brands, being significantly lower in saturated fat. These brands, along with Woolworths, also have a green light for saturated fat, making all brands a better nutritional choice than CSB and WHB.
Crunchy peanut butter
: All products surveyed receive red lights for both total and saturated fat. However, the leading brand (Kraft) is the only peanut butter with a red light for sodium, containing more than three times the amount as CSB.
Shortcut bacon: While Aldi, Coles, Woolworths and Primo (the leading brand) all have amber lights for total fat, Aldi’s Ashfield shortcut bacon also has an amber light for saturated fat, making it our Nutritional Better Buy.
Again, ingredient differences that result in a brand having a better nutritional profile may affect taste. CSB pasta sauce, for example, lists water as its second ingredient. This limits how fatty or sugary the product can be, but doesn’t do many favours for the product’s flavour.
Limiting unhelpful nutrients may be what swings you towards certain brands or products, while in other cases you may prefer to prioritise taste or value for money.

NUTRIENTS SPECIFICATIONS
FOOD ITEM Fat (g/100g) Saturated fat (g/100g) Sugars (g/100g) Sodium (mg/100g) Price/pack ($) Packet size (g/mL)
Apple pie - family
Aldi Sweethaven Family Apple Pie 11 5.6 15.6 250 600 2.99
Coles Coles Apple Pie 9.4 6 17.1 165 600 3.99
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Apple Pie 12.9 6 17.3 288 500 2.66
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Apple Pie 9.6 4.9 15.6 235 600 3.19
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Nanna's Apple Pie 9 4.5 15.7 219 600 4.99
Bread - multigrain loaf sliced
Aldi Bakers Life Multigrain Sandwich Sliced Bread 2.6 0.4 2.7 535 650 2.99
Coles Coles Multigrain 10 Grains & Seed Sandwich Bread 4.8 0 3.3 425 700 2.75
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Multigrain Bread 1.7 0 3.7 420 650 1.79
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Multigrain Sandwich Sliced Bread 2.8 0.3 2.4 400 650 1.79
Woolworths Woolworths Grains + Grains and Seeds Sandwich Bread 3.4 0.4 1.8 400 650 2.49
Leading brand Helga's Continental Bakery Mixed Grain 3.1 0 1.8 500 850 4.59
Bread - white loaf, toast
Aldi Bakers Life Stonehouse Traditional White Bread 2.4 0.4 2.5 410 750 2.69
Coles Coles Bakery White Sandwich Bread + 6 Vitamins and Minerals 2.1 0 1.8 420 700 2.75
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy White Bread Toast Slice 2.5 1 2.6 450 650 1.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand White Toast Sliced Bread 1.3 0.3 2 400 650 1.09
Woolworths Woolworths White Vitamins and Minerals Sandwich Bread 2.4 0.3 2.3 400 650 2.49
Leading brand Helga's Continental Bakehouse Traditional White 2.4 0 2.5 410 750 4.59
Butter
Aldi Butterfully Butter 81 55.1 0.7 695 250 1.29
Coles Coles Australian Butter 80.5 53.1 0 640 250 2.26
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Butter 80.5 53.1 0 640 250 1.29
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Butter 81 55.1 0 695 250 1.29
Woolworths Woolworths Select Creamy Tasmanian Butter 80.5 53.5 0 640 250 1.29
Leading brand Western Star Original Butter 80.5 53.1 0 640 250 2.31
Cereal - wheat biscuits
Aldi GoldenVale Wheat Biscuits 1.6 0.4 2.7 270 1120 2.89
Coles Coles Whole Wheat Biscuits 1.5 0.4 2.7 270 1120 4.99
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Wheat Biscuits 1.5 0.3 0.8 385 1120 2.91
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Wheat Biscuits 1.6 0.4 2.7 270 1120 2.99
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Sanitarium Weet-Bix 1.4 0.3 3.3 290 750 4.19
Chips - frozen, straight cut
Aldi Seasons Pride Straight Cut 3.5 0.3 0 14 1000 1.99
Coles Coles Straight Cut Chips 3.9 0.4 0.7 60 1000 2.89
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Straight Cut Chips 4.8 2 1.5 59 1000 1.99
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Frozen Potato Chips Straight Cut 4 0.5 1 30 1000 1.99
Woolworths Woolworths Select Straight Cut Chips 4 0.5 1 30 1000 2.89
Leading brand McCain SuperFries Straight Cut 4.5 0.4 0 44 1200 3.79
Cookies - choc chip
Aldi Belmont Biscuit Co. Chocolate Chip Cookies 19.1 17 36.8 259 200 1.49
Coles Coles Chocolate Chip Cookies 23.3 15.9 27.5 228 400 3.99
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Chocolate Chip Cookies 20.6 13 35.3 230 500 2.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Choc Chip Cookies 19.3 11.7 27 270 500 2.09
Woolworths Woolworths Select Choc Chunk Cookies 21.7 14 39 240 310 3.79
Leading brand Arnotts Premier Chocolate Chip Cookies 23.5 13.7 40 230 310 4.1
Cordial - orange
Aldi Tropistar Orange Cordial 0 0 8 5 2000 2.19
Coles NA na na na na na na
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Orange Fruit Juice Cordial 0 0 8.5 5 2000 2.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Orange Cordial 0 0 7.9 7 2000 1.99
Woolworths Woolworths Select Orange Fruit Juice Cordial 0 0 6.9 3 1000 3.91
Leading brand Cottees Orange Crush Fruit Juice Cordial 0 0 7 7 2000 4.32
Crackers - water, plain
Aldi Damora Admirals Quarters Original Water Crackers 11.2 5.5 2.3 540 125 0.99
Coles Coles Original Water Crackers 7.6 3.7 2.3 647 125 1.49
Coles Smart Buy NA na na na na na na
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Water Crackers Traditional 6.8 0.6 1 520 125 0.99
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Nabiscos Captains Table Classic Water Crackers 10.8 5.2 0 575 125 1.71
Fish portions - crumbed, frozen
Aldi Ocean Royale Crumbed Fish Fillets Original 10.5 1.1 4.2 260 425 3.99
Coles Coles 6 Crumbed Fish Fillets 2.5 0.4 1.5 390 425 6.75
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy 6 Crumbed Fish Portions 10.3 1.1 2.5 300 500 3.29
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Crumbed Fish Frozen Portions 10.3 1.1 2.5 300 500 3.29
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Birds Eye Oven Bake 6 Original 100% Fish Fillets Coated in Crispy Crumb 9.8 1 0 188 425 7.96
Garlic bread
Aldi Fresh Approach Garlic Bread (twin pack) 13.2 5.6 3.8 598 450 1.69
Coles Coles Garlic Bread 12.7 8.8 5.3 590 450 2.89
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Garlic Bread (2 pack) 10.7 4.5 2.3 593 450 1.79
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Garlic Bread with Sesame Seeds (twin pack) 14.4 7.1 2.2 563 450 1.69
Woolworths Woolworths Select Fresh Garlic Loaf 18 11.9 2.1 478 420 2.99
Leading brand La Famiglia Garlic Bread (2 pack) 14.8 7.3 2.5 500 450 2.99
Juice - apple, shelf stable
Aldi Westcliff Apple Juice 0 0 11 7 2000 1.89
Coles Coles Apple Juice 0 0 10.4 8 2000 2.55
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Apple Juice 0 0 10.3 4 2000 1.89
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Apple Juice 0 0 9.4 5 2000 1.89
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Berri Juice Apple 0 0 10.3 4 2400 3.89
Mayonnaise
Aldi Colway Squeezy Light Mayonnaise 2.5 0.2 21.4 370 525 2.59
Coles Coles 97% Fat Free Mayonnaise 2.8 0.3 21 750 410 2.69
Coles Smart Buy NA na na na na na na
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Mayonnaise 97% Fat Free 2.8 0 25 538 500 2.84
Woolworths Woolworths Select 97% Fat Free Mayonnaise 2.8 0.3 21.9 728 555 3.04
Leading brand Praise Creamy Mayonnaise 97% Fat Free 2.7 0 21 735 555 3.79
Milk - whole
Aldi Farmdale Full Cream 3.6 2.4 4.8 58 2000 2.09
Coles Coles Full Cream Milk 3.4 2.2 4.9 44 2000 2.47
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Milk 3.4 2.2 4.9 44 2000 2.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Milk 3.4 2.2 4.9 44 2000 2.09
Woolworths Woolworths Milk 3.4 2.2 4.9 44 2000 2.49
Leading brand Pura Milk 3.6 2.3 5 30 2000 3.69
Mixed veg - frozen
Aldi New Season Mixed Vegetables 0 0 4.5 11 1000 1.59
Coles Coles Australian Mixed Vegetables 0.4 0.1 2.5 13 1000 3.99
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Frozen Mixed Vegetables 0 0 2.3 18 1000 1.59
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Mixed Vegetables Frozen 0.2 0 2.5 27 1000 1.59
Woolworths Woolworths Select Chunky Mixed Vegetables 0.3 0 1.2 28 500 2.49
Leading brand McCain Traditional Favourites 0.7 0.1 4 30 1000 4.95
Noodles - instant, chicken
Aldi Jade 2 Minute Noodles Chicken (5 pack) 0.2 0.1 0 257 425 1.09
Coles Coles Chicken Flavour 2 Minute Noodles (5 pack) 0.7 0.3 0.4 232 425 2.26
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy 2 Minute Noodles Chicken Flavour (5 pack) 4.6 2.7 0 310 425 1.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Instant Noodles Chicken Flavoured (5 pack) 4 1.9 0.3 302 425 1.09
Woolworths Woolworths Select 2 Minute Noodles Chicken Flavoured (5 pack) 3.5 0.9 0.8 260 425 3.49
Leading brand Maggi 2 Minute Noodles Chicken Flavour (5 pack) 1.3 0 0 320 360 3.95
Peanut butter - crunchy
Aldi Bramwells Peanut Butter Crunchy 51.9 7.5 9.3 555 375 2.09
Coles Coles Crunchy Peanut Butter 48.2 7.9 8.9 375 375 3
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Peanut Butter Crunchy 50.5 11.4 5.6 170 375 2.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Crunchy Peanut Butter 43.9 10.1 10.8 397 550 3.07
Woolworths Woolworths Select Crunchy Peanut Butter 52.3 6.1 9 437 500 4.19
Leading brand Kraft Nuts Peanut Butter Crunchy 51.6 11.3 8 647 500 5.56
Smallgoods - bacon, shortcut/middle
Aldi Ashfield Short Cut Bacon Rindless 12.3 4.3 0.3 1200 175 2.59
Coles Coles Short Cut Bacon Rindless (naturally wood smoked) 13.7 5.4 0 1060 175 4.87
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Middle Bacon (smoked) 21.5 8.2 0 882 250 2.69
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Middle Bacon (smoked rashers) 25.4 10.1 1.2 1400 250 2.69
Woolworths Woolworths Select Short Cut Rindless Bacon (naturally wood smoked) 15 5.5 1.1 680 200 4.49
Leading brand Primo Short Cut Rindless Bacon 17 7.3 1.2 1200 175 5.37
Spread - canola/margarine
Aldi Sunnyvale Canola 65 15.9 0 362 500 1.29
Coles Coles Canola Spread 65 13.1 0 380 500 2.5
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Regular Spread 50 13.6 0 465 500 1.09
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Canola Spread 65 15.9 0 300 500 1.29
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand MeadowLea Canola 65 16.1 0 340 500 3.49
Yoghurt - vanilla, low fat
Aldi Brooklea Vanilla Lite 0.8 0.6 16.5 65 1000 3.79
Coles Coles Vanilla Lite Yoghurt 0.8 0.5 14 63 1000 4.59
Coles Smart Buy Coles Smart Buy Lite Yoghurt Vanilla 0 0 15.5 51 1000 3.79
Woolworths Home Brand Home Brand Vanilla Flavoured Yoghurt Low Fat 0.1 0 17.6 55 1000 3.79
Woolworths NA na na na na na na
Leading brand Yoplait Vanilla Creamy Lite 1 0.6 14.8 58 1000 4.99


USING THE TABLE

Food and drink items For each food and drink item, we compared nutrients and price across six brands:

Coles Smart Buy, Coles/You’ll Love Coles, Woolworths Home Brand, Woolworths/Woolworths Select, Aldi proprietary brands and equivalent leading brands (as determined by market share).

Not every item is represented by all six brands. Nutrients are based on information on the label.

Traffic light criteria are based on the latest nutrition recommendations and dietary guidelines established by government health experts in Australia and internationally

Prices are based on our price survey of the listed products carried out in Sydney supermarkets on the same day in July 2010 (or August 2010 for products marked with a *). Non-special prices of the same or closest pack sizes were recorded, but as pack sizes can vary we’ve shown the price per 100g for comparison purposes.

TABLE NOTES

na We were unable to find an equivalent product to represent this brand for this food item.

(A) Coles Smart Buy is price-competitive but a Nutritional Worse Buy for this product, so we recommend avoiding this brand here.

 
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