GENERIC BRANDS

02 Mar 2005, 04:21:30 PM

Reporter: Rodney Lohse

In a world where we are spoilt for choice its hard to know what is the right choice as we trawl the aisles of our local supermarket each week.

Kath Armstrong from Cheapskates.com.au has long sung the benefits of using generic products but still many of us ignore her advice and shell out thousands of dollars a year of brand names. Is it because they taste better or are better quality?

Or like Kath says are we simply brand snobs, there is only one way to find out and that's put the products first to a price test and then the taste test.

With the help of four final year chefs from the William Angliss Institute of Tafe in Melbourne, we compiled a menu for breakfast lunch and dinner for a family of four.

  • Breakfast was Weetbix served with peaches juice and tea.

  • Lunch was a caesar salad with cordial.

  • Dinner was spaghetti bolognaise with garlic bread and coca cola.

  • Dessert was bread and butter pudding served with strawberries.

In all there were 29 items in our shopping trolley more than enough to feed a family of four. And so our chefs set about cooking up all the different meals keeping an eye on what the different products were like to work with. Vaharn was in charge of breakfast.

"Just with the peaches Rodney, I tried them all to see what the difference were. The Golden Valley was really nice it a really deep flavour with Coles. I couldn't taste anything I had to have two, I then jumped across to New Seasons expecting the same and it was then I had Savings Brand and it was the best of them all even better than Golden Valley."

That's a win for Woolworths. Meanwhile over at the lunch preparation area Gustavo is working on his Chicken Caesar salad and finding one bacon is not always as good as the next.

"We noticed the Aldi when were cooking it, it had a nicer aroma presentation, it was nicer much less oil."

Ok so the chefs can tell the difference when they can see the label, but how about if we call in two taste testers who have no idea what's what. William Angliss Tafe CEO David Riley and Jessica Hart from Tourism and Hospitality have no idea which is which.

As we trawl through four different breakfasts lunches and dinners, the results are becoming quite clear. Its a neck and neck race, even when it comes to picking Coca Cola from the cheaper alternatives.

It would seem the label on the packet means almost nothing when it comes to the eating so where should we be shopping if we want to make the most difference to our hip pocket.

Our survey showed the branded products came in at a whopping $112.41 for our 29 items. Farmland was next with a considerable saving with a total of $83.63, Home Brand was marginally cheaper again at $80.39 making Aldi the cheapest our basket of groceries there cost just $71.61 that's a saving of $40.80 when compared to the branded products.