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Private label food products


fresco
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Loblaw supermarkets in Canada have provided impressive competition to national and global food brands by developing a huge array of private label products under the President's Choice label.

Rather than compete with extremely low priced "no name" products (although they do this as well) Loblaw adopted a "class for the masses" approach-- premium butters, oils, sauces, etc., a chocolate chip cookie that became the No 1 seller nationally, and a ton of frozen entrees and appretizers.

They have forced at least one of their competitors to launch a competing (and in my opinion, not very good) private label selection.

Opinions are mixed about President's Choice products. Some people have an almost moonie-like devotion to them; others think they are the work of the devil.

What's the best and worst private label stuff that you encounter in your food markets?

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Doesn't Waitrose publish a food magazine that is sold on news stands? Is it any good?

waitrose mag.has some really nice recipes esp. since they do not hinge upon buying products solely at Waitrose shops (also they include a UK/US conversion chart for the recipes)

I was very fond of the M&S brand of juices their Apple Juice is amazing!!,

Food Emporium's Presidents Choice (same as Canada shop?) products were pretty good as far as I can remember , and the Whole Foods 365 or something like that is pretty high quality

"sometimes I comb my hair with a fork" Eloise

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H.E.B.'s Hill Country Fare is the best.  Cheap as dirt, too. 

As for the worst, my vote is for Safeway Select.

Totally agree. The HEB pasta sauce is not bad at all. It is a good start for adding some garlic and fresh basil.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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H.E.B.'s Hill Country Fare is the best.  Cheap as dirt, too. 

As for the worst, my vote is for Safeway Select.

Safeway select is terrible. On first glance these seem like they should be good, but I don't think I have ever had one that I liked.

Bill Russell

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I was in a hurry when I posted my affinity for H.E.B.'s Hill Country Fare and didn't give any specific examples. So for you Texans who are lucky enough to have H.E.B., here are the things we like.

Hill Country Fare Sandwich Cookies -- 99 cents a pound. They come in cherry creme, orange creme, vanilla creme, peanut butter and duplex and boy, do they taste good. They're much fresher tasting than Oreos.

Hill Country Fare Baby Wipes -- Won't go into details, but for the money you save, they're worth it.

Hill Country Fare Soda -- 88 cents a six pack. The strawberry flavored is particularly good. Diet Sodas are okay too, not as good as Diet Coke, but good.

H.E.B. brand potato chips -- About 89 cents a bag. Tastier than Lays. A little greasier, but good.

H.E.B. brand frozen beef tips with portabello (very good!)

All of the H.E.B. snack crackers

The worst Safeway Select product we tried was a frozen pot roast and potatoes dish. Imagine roadkill in gravy -- smell, texture, taste. Yuck. Never again.

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Alas, I used to be able to get President's Choice products, but can no longer. They really were quite good. Some standouts were their chocolate chip cookies, olive oil and cereals especially, "Ancient Grains". I never really had a bad product from them.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A&P's house brand is called "America's Choice", so for a moment I thought you were referring to that. "America's Choice" is spotty--some excellent items (especially in dry goods) and a lot of crap.

Whole Foods' private label is very impressive. It's usually called "365" or if certified properly "365 Organic", although I've also seen items labeled as "Whole Foods" brand. Which is kind of confusing when you've got "365", "365 Organic" and "Whole Foods" EVOO sitting next to each other on the shelf. And the next aisle over? "365", "365 Organic", "Whole Foods" brand and "Whole Kids Organic" brand Peanut butter.

Target's private label(s) have some surprisingly tolerable items.

This (click here) is--for some bizarre reason--only about Private labeling of frozen pizzas, but it gives a lot of private label names for various chains.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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In Canada, A&P/Dominion's private label is called Masterchoice. Some of their stuff is good, in particular their salsa. I love certain President's choice products. Their plum sauce, their horseradish/mayo spread and for the few times I'm way too lazy to make my own burgers, thier sirloin burgers rock. They actually have taste, unlike most frozen burgers.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I'm pretty sure I've seen Masterchoice in A&P as well. But I know that America's Choice is the main house brand. Which of course makes no sense in Canada, so maybe the "lower" level house brand is called something else. "North America's Choice" maybe? :smile:

Ah... click here. This explains some of it, although not the details of the Canadian market labeling.

BTW: re: Whole Foods - here's the same for them (clickity). Target's Food brand is a bit harder to pin, 'cause they never refer to it on their website.

Edited by jhlurie (log)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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How are house label products manufactured? I was under the impression that most were made by major manufacturers, and that the house label was then added: so a supermarket's cornflakes could well be manufactured by Kellogg. So if you could figure out which supermarkets get their cereal from Kellogg, and which get their cereal from Bob's Paint Chip Supply and Cereal Manufacturing, Inc., you'd be a step ahead in this process...

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In the case of Loblaw, they have gone to some lengths to refine the process and build their President's Choice brand. If they come across some outfit in Italy, for example, that is making pretty good olive oil, they might approach them and ask them to produce a President"s Choice line.

Other stuff, like "The Decadent" chocolate chip cookies (a monster seller in Canada) was, I think, developed either in house or in conjunction with a contract manufacturer. Once they had the formula right, the cookies were made by the custom manufacturer.

I do think you are correct about major manufacturers producing house brands in other instances. Certainly this is the case for things like Whirlpool, which markets stoves, fridges etc under a lot of department store private labels and is probably the case for off-brand corn flakes, etc.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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so a supermarket's cornflakes could well be manufactured by Kellogg.

I seem to remember that Kelloggs uses the line "we don't make cereal for anybody else" in some of its advertising, can't remember if it was in the US or UK.

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I'm pretty sure I've seen Masterchoice in A&P as well.  But I know that America's Choice is the main house brand.  Which of course makes no sense in Canada, so maybe the "lower" level house brand is called something else.  "North America's Choice" maybe? :smile:

Ah... click here.  This explains some of it, although not the details of the Canadian market labeling.

I think that in Canada, America's Choice has been renamed to Equality.

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