Name brands vs. store brands

September 27, 2010 NAME BRANDS VS. STORE BRANDS

It's no secret that supermarket store brands can save you money. A just-released Consumer Reports survey finds that plenty of people are buying them. Still, some people are reluctant to swap out their favorite name brands.

Consumer Reports' taste testers pitted 21 store brands against big-name brands for staples such as orange juice, soup, and peanut butter. Out of 21 head-to-head matchups, the store brands won outright three times. Eleven times, it was a tie. So store brands are a good bet.

Walmart's Great Value Original Potato Chips tied with Lay's Classic Potato Chips. Both have a nice balance of real potato flavor, fat, and saltiness. And Target's Market Pantry Ketchup tied with Heinz Ketchup. But while they're similar in quality, that doesn't mean they taste the same. The Market Pantry was very "tomatoey." The Heinz was spicier.

But you can skip Target's Market Pantry Chunk Light Tuna. The product exhibited some off-notes and varied in quality from lot to lot. Bumble Bee's Chunk Light Tuna was far better in the taste tests.

But on the whole, Consumer Reports finds store brands are worth a try. Like national brands, store-brand manufacturers and retailers stand behind their products. If you're not satisfied for any reason, you can simply bring back the product for a refund.

Consumer Reports says there isn't any reason a store brand can't hold its own against a national brand. After all, some of the companies that make the national-brand products are one in the same with those that make the store brands.

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TESTING PET HAIR REMOVAL PRODUCTS

Pledge Fabric Sweeper claims it can quickly and easily pick up pet hair. But Consumer Reports' tester and pet owner Bernie Deitrick wanted to see the $6.00 product in action.

"We have three pets - Jade, our mixed-breed dog, and two cats, Precious and Rexy. And the cats like to hang out over here."

He compared the Pledge Fabric Sweeper to three Scotch products: its regular lint roller and the Pet Hair roller, both with sticky tear-off sheets, as well as the Scotch Fur Fighter Hair Remover with these removable sheets.

All of the Scotch products did remove hair but Deitrick says it was a little tedious. He says the sheets can quickly fill up, and you need to keep using a new one in order to get the job done.

The Pledge Fabric Sweeper was much easier to use.

"The Fabric Sweeper has two lint-collecting, fabric-covered rollers that work together to move the hair into the collection compartment."

Cleaning up the cats' hairy mess on this bench was fast and easy. So was removing pet hair from pillows, chairs and even the carpet.

The instructions for the Pledge Fabric Sweeper say to throw it away when it's full but Consumer Reports says it's easy to remove a roller, take out the hair, and use it again. So you save some money, too.

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