Why You Should Never Buy Generic Peanut Butter

Here comes the age-old debate of generic versus name-brand food items: Is there any difference? Even if there is, does it matter? Well, sometimes it does. In a nutshell, a name brand refers to any item that you'd recognize from its name and logo due to heavy marketing and advertising (via Investopedia). Generic, on the other hand, are cheaper alternatives that keep costs low by cutting back on big marketing budgets.

While generic items like store-brand labels tend to have lackluster packaging compared to name-brand items, whether there are any quality, taste, or nutritional differences between the two is a matter of debate. Some shoppers find generic food items to be of subpar quality whereas others find little to no difference. Add the cheaper price tags of generic food options and the scales often tip in its favor.

The Healthy, however, warns that it's important to consider what exactly it is that you're buying before you make a beeline for generic items. When it comes to peanut butter in particular, it's important to compare the nutrition labels before choosing.

Compare the nutrition labels before making a decision

A registered dietitian tells The Healthy that while generic peanut butters could have the same nutritional value as name-brand ones, it's important to check the nutritional label when shopping. She warns, "Some generic peanut butters have unhealthy, unnecessary additives such as added sugars or extra fat from non-sustainable resources like palm oil," which are generally things that you don't want hiding in your food.

On the other hand, Science Alert points out that generic items are often just name-brand leftovers in disguise with similar, if not identical, ingredient lists and nutrition labels. The site points out that Peter Pan's peanut butter recall in 2015 over possible concerns over salmonella coincided with Walmart recalling its in-house Great Value peanut butter because they both shared manufacturing facilities.

Experts go on to tell Insider that although generic peanut butters can have an unpleasant grainy texture, more and more stores are upping their in-house labels of peanut butter overall. Redditors also stand divided on the matter. While some find certain name brands of peanut butter to be supreme, others insist that a few supermarkets carry generic peanut butters under their own labels that are better both in terms of both taste and nutritional value. Costco's in-house label Kirkland Signature's organic peanut butter, for example, is made from just two ingredients: peanuts and sea salt. You might not know which one's better till you read the label on the back of the peanut butter jar.