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PLMA: Switching to Store Brands Saves Shoppers 33 Percent

December 14, 2010

A new study of supermarket prices reveals shoppers can save an average of 33 percent on their grocery bills by buying private label products instead of national brands.

Conducted by the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), the research tracked prices of 40 typical grocery items at a conventional supermarket. Cold-weather pantry staples –– such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, soup, oatmeal, pancake mix, maple syrup and hot chocolate –– as well as wintertime personal necessities such as lip balm, body lotion, cough drops, sinus spray, tissue and nighttime cold medicine were includes in the price review. In all instances, the store brand cost less than the national brand.

By choosing the store brand version of the products on the list (see charts below) rather than the national brand, consumers could save $43.92 (a savings of 33.6 percent) on average on their total market basket. When buying the national brands the 40-item purchase came to $130.78 on average over six separate trips, while the same purchases for the retailer's brands cost $86.85 on average.

The survey took place over a six-week period in a suburban supermarket located in the northeast. For every category in the study, a leading national brand product was compared to a similar store brand product and prices were adjusted to account for all known discounts, coupons and promotions available for each of the six shopping visits in the study.

Among individual food items the cost savings ranged as high as 46 percent on a 2-liter bottle of soda, 40 percent on maple syrup and oatmeal, 38 percent on packaged macaroni and cheese, and 36 percent on ice cream, pasta sauce and hot dogs. Savings in many non-foods categories were even greater, led by aspirin, with the private label version costing 62 percent less on average; body lotion, 55 percent less; sinus spray and facial tissue, both 47 percent less; and aluminum foil, 42 percent less.

PLMA food prices chart

PLMA non-food prices chart