Privates or generics?

Interesting article in today’s Sunday Age about the increase in private labels in supermarket items. Private label = home brand = cheap(er) product.

Remember when ‘plain label’ meant just that? Plain white background with red or black writing. When you felt rather embarrassed if you turned up at the checkout with a trolley full of them?

Nowadays they’re all attractively packaged and look just like the brand names and that’s causing concern amongst local companies whose products are getting squeezed off supermarket shelves.

Ten years ago ‘home brands’ made up just 10% of grocery sales. Now it’s almost 25%. In the UK it’s 43%!

I used to buy home brands—not exclusively—but a lot.

Now, since becoming more aware of energy decline, (read Peak Oil), I go for products made in Australia or close by (New Zealand, for example). That means reducing food miles and hence energy use. I don’t want oil to run out in my lifetime.

Sometimes I’m amazed at where some supermarket items come from. Tinned asparagus from Peru, for example. For a long time I bought plain label sultanas, stupidly assuming that because we have a large dried fruit industry here, that they’d be Aussie for sure. Recently, it occurred to me to actually look at the label. Product of Turkey!!!!  Ye gods!  So I’ve switched to brand name Aussie sultanas. I’d long since given up buying dried apricots, because they’re all from Turkey.

I accept that the cheaper plain label items are great for large families stretched for cash, but since I’m growing a lot of my own fresh food, I reckon I can put the money I save by doing that into buying the more expensive brand names, supporting local companies and keeping food miles down.

And anyway, if you shop intelligently, keeping an eye out for the  specials  and stocking up, it’s possible to avoid paying full price most of the time.


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