This week, Tesco discontinued a number of its own brand items after a BBC investigation found that they were basically the same as cheaper alternatives.
Specifically, the investigation highlighted the fact that certain cheeses in its Creamfields range were made in the same factories as the Tesco-branded ones, as identified by their batch numbers.
What’s more, they had the same ingredients and the same nutritional information as well – but the Tesco-branded ones were more expensive by around 50p.
Investigators also found a similar discrepancy in price for tinned vegetables sold under the Grower’s Harvest range, which Tesco said was down to a difference in the grade of vegetables used.
Actually, Tesco wasn’t alone in this.
Items in Asda’s Smart Price range were also significantly cheaper than some of the supermarket’s more premium own-brand items, despite being made in the same factory. Asda has attributed this to different grades of ingredients being used as well.
It raises an interesting point – just how different are basics, own-brand and premium-branded items?
Many are made in the same factories, as we’ve seen here. And while they should be made with different ingredients, that’s clearly not always the case.
And even if they were, does one or two ingredients really make that much of a difference in terms of quality or nutrition?
The answer may well lie in how many and what those ingredients are and in what proportions they are used – but if you can’t taste the difference in a blind test, it may well be worth trading down.
After all, if you saved 50p per item in a 10-item weekly shop, that’s an extra £5 in your pocket. Over the course of a year, that’s £260.