Supermarket premium brands

How do supermarket brands rate against their big-name competitors?
 
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  • Updated:24 Sep 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Tomato soup

In brief

  • Among the three supermarkets whose 'premium own-brands' were tested, there was no clear winner for taste or performance. But neither did a brand name win out every time.
  • A number of the supermarket brands were rated as good as or better than the market leaders in their categories.
  • If your supermarket sells the products you want at a cheaper price than a major brand name, it's well worth trying them — you could save some money without sacrificing quality.

In a recent CHOICE survey of supermarket prices, we reported how much you can stretch your food and basics budget by buying some or all of your groceries at an Aldi store — as much as 50%. But as you stroll the aisles of Aldi, Woolies or Coles, do you wonder whether the growing number of supermarket-owned premium varieties are worth trying, or if they’re inherently inferior to 'name' brands?

Until not so long ago, the simply packaged 'home' or 'no name' brands from supermarkets were regarded as inferior by many shoppers, who assumed their low price reflected lower-grade ingredients. These days the supermarket brands, are called 'premium own-brands' or 'private label' brands, and they come with the supermarket's assurance of quality that matches the leading brands.

By choosing these brands, you can get at least some of your groceries at a lower price, apparently without forsaking quality ingredients. But the question remains: will your family like — and eat them?

To find out, we put Woolworths Select, You’ll Love Coles and Aldi's premium own-brands to the test, by asking our CHOICE Home Testers to try a range of supermarket 'premium own' items and compare them with a similar item from a leading brand. Our testers tried products that many people would buy regularly — pasta sauce, peanut butter, canned fruit, baked beans, biscuits and aluminum foil.

Please note: this information was current as of September 2007 but is still a useful guide today.


How we tested

We sent 143 Home Testers a range of different products to try. Each type of product was tried by around 70 different people. Where possible we disguised the products so they didn't know which ones were on test.

The trialists were asked to report on a leading brand, plus whichever of the supermarket premium own-brands were available for that product. If a supermarket had two premium brands, we chose the most expensive one.

  • For Woolworths, we used the Woolworths Select brand.
  • For Coles, the You'll Love Coles brand.
  • For Aldi, the comparable Aldi product.

We also report on the quality of some supermarket products which were recently tested by CHOICE, including cheddar cheese and laundry detergents.

 
 

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Who currently labels palm oil?palm-oli-fatty-acids-statistic

We spoke with major food manufacturers in Australia in 2013 and found little desire to go beyond FSANZ labelling requirements when it comes to palm oil. Leaders in the mainstream grocery market, including Arnott’s, Coca Cola (SPC Ardmona), Goodman Fielder, Nestlé, Simplot, Unilever and General Mills, all use palm oil but label it as vegetable oil. 

When it comes to private label goods, Coles and Woolworths both specifically identify palm oil, while Aldi labels it as vegetable oil. 

On a comparative global scale, international palm oil labelling standards seem to serve overseas consumers better than Australian ones. The Food Information Regulation, published by the EU, requires the type of vegetable oil used in food to be stated. Transitional arrangements are in place until this new regulation comes into effect in December 2014. Taking this one step further, the French government is even said to be seeking to impose a tax on palm oil (as well as coconut and palm kernel oil). The US and Canada also require palm oil to be labelled.

Sustainable but still unhealthy

Many large food manufacturers have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which aims to encourage those using palm oil to purchase from sustainable sources. All the companies we spoke to responded to questions about the labelling of palm oil with information about their sustainability commitments. But just because palm oil can be sourced sustainably doesn’t make it better for your health. 

Although palm oil is rich in carotenoids (antioxidants), it contains more than 50% saturated fat. It doesn't contain cholesterol, but can cause raised total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels, depending on the levels of other fats in the diet.

The WHO believes there’s convincing evidence that palmitic acid (which is found in palm oil) contributes to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, and for heart health the Heart Foundation recommends steering clear of high saturated fat ingredients, such as palm oil.

What we want

We want labelling laws to make it mandatory for food labels to list palm oil in the ingredients list, rather than hiding it as unspecified vegetable oil. We’d like food manufacturers to replace palm oil wherever possible with healthier oils that are sustainably sourced. Where no suitable alternative exists, manufacturers should be required to use only certified sustainable palm oil. 

Who currently labels palm oil?palm-oli-fatty-acids-statistic

We spoke with major food manufacturers in Australia in 2013 and found little desire to go beyond FSANZ labelling requirements when it comes to palm oil. Leaders in the mainstream grocery market, including Arnott’s, Coca Cola (SPC Ardmona), Goodman Fielder, Nestlé, Simplot, Unilever and General Mills, all use palm oil but label it as vegetable oil. 

When it comes to private label goods, Coles and Woolworths both specifically identify palm oil, while Aldi labels it as vegetable oil. 

On a comparative global scale, international palm oil labelling standards seem to serve overseas consumers better than Australian ones. The Food Information Regulation, published by the EU, requires the type of vegetable oil used in food to be stated. Transitional arrangements are in place until this new regulation comes into effect in December 2014. Taking this one step further, the French government is even said to be seeking to impose a tax on palm oil (as well as coconut and palm kernel oil). The US and Canada also require palm oil to be labelled.

Sustainable but still unhealthy

Many large food manufacturers have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which aims to encourage those using palm oil to purchase from sustainable sources. All the companies we spoke to responded to questions about the labelling of palm oil with information about their sustainability commitments. But just because palm oil can be sourced sustainably doesn’t make it better for your health. 

Although palm oil is rich in carotenoids (antioxidants), it contains more than 50% saturated fat. It doesn't contain cholesterol, but can cause raised total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels, depending on the levels of other fats in the diet.

The WHO believes there’s convincing evidence that palmitic acid (which is found in palm oil) contributes to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, and for heart health the Heart Foundation recommends steering clear of high saturated fat ingredients, such as palm oil.

What we want

We want labelling laws to make it mandatory for food labels to list palm oil in the ingredients list, rather than hiding it as unspecified vegetable oil. We’d like food manufacturers to replace palm oil wherever possible with healthier oils that are sustainably sourced. Where no suitable alternative exists, manufacturers should be required to use only certified sustainable palm oil. 

Who currently labels palm oil?palm-oli-fatty-acids-statistic

We spoke with major food manufacturers in Australia in 2013 and found little desire to go beyond FSANZ labelling requirements when it comes to palm oil. Leaders in the mainstream grocery market, including Arnott’s, Coca Cola (SPC Ardmona), Goodman Fielder, Nestlé, Simplot, Unilever and General Mills, all use palm oil but label it as vegetable oil. 

When it comes to private label goods, Coles and Woolworths both specifically identify palm oil, while Aldi labels it as vegetable oil. 

On a comparative global scale, international palm oil labelling standards seem to serve overseas consumers better than Australian ones. The Food Information Regulation, published by the EU, requires the type of vegetable oil used in food to be stated. Transitional arrangements are in place until this new regulation comes into effect in December 2014. Taking this one step further, the French government is even said to be seeking to impose a tax on palm oil (as well as coconut and palm kernel oil). The US and Canada also require palm oil to be labelled.

Sustainable but still unhealthy

Many large food manufacturers have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which aims to encourage those using palm oil to purchase from sustainable sources. All the companies we spoke to responded to questions about the labelling of palm oil with information about their sustainability commitments. But just because palm oil can be sourced sustainably doesn’t make it better for your health. 

Although palm oil is rich in carotenoids (antioxidants), it contains more than 50% saturated fat. It doesn't contain cholesterol, but can cause raised total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels, depending on the levels of other fats in the diet.

The WHO believes there’s convincing evidence that palmitic acid (which is found in palm oil) contributes to an increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease, and for heart health the Heart Foundation recommends steering clear of high saturated fat ingredients, such as palm oil.

What we want

We want labelling laws to make it mandatory for food labels to list palm oil in the ingredients list, rather than hiding it as unspecified vegetable oil. We’d like food manufacturers to replace palm oil wherever possible with healthier oils that are sustainably sourced. Where no suitable alternative exists, manufacturers should be required to use only certified sustainable palm oil.