Ranking 14 Store Brands (& Why Costco's Kirkland Signature Is The Best)

For a long time, store brands' role was to help grocers stock both the national brands and their own products to attract two different types of customers. National brands have been relying on recognizable names and quality standards to justify higher price points for a while, but consumers are only willing to go so far. Stores nationwide have seen significant inflation for over a year now, leading even the wealthiest shoppers to reconsider their choices. The biggest winners of this grocery price increase are the store brands, which are reaching new heights in popularity across the board. 

One of the easiest ways to reduce your grocery bill is by opting for store brands, but it can be hard to figure out who to trust. Usually, lower prices come with other hidden costs. As private labels scoop up market share, we're here to help stretch out your grocery budget without sacrificing quality by laying out the best (and worst) store brands have to offer. 

14. Nature's Promise

This brand brings many healthy, organic options to Giant Food and Food Lion grocery stores. Best of all, it makes these previously premium products affordable. There's a whole lot to love in this business model, and if it can nail down the specifics of its pitch, this brand will be a major private label player. For the moment, the company has some soul-searching to do. 

Nature's Promise claims the last spot on our list because its packaging flirts with greenwashing. Here's why: While the brand is usually considered an entirely organic line, it has two distinct product categories: organic and free-from. Even though it says right on the company website that "Nature's Promise items are USDA certified organic products," not all the products are USDA Certified Organic. 

Both varieties feature similar packaging, the only difference being which word comes after "Promise." It's not a huge deal as "free-from" products still have no artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or synthetic colors. We just wish the brand would make the distinction more clear.

13. Laura Lynn

Laura Lynn loses points because you can only find its products in six Southern States. It's one of the smaller store brands on our list, but if you are near an Ingles Market, this private label is your friendly Southern neighbor, always around when you need to borrow a cup of sugar. The brand is named after a family member of Ingles founder, who stuck around and helped the family business grow as part of Ingles's board of directors. 

Laura Lynn the brand has a lot to learn, especially in the household goods department. Some customers would rather use poisonous leaves than the brand's discount toilet paper. On the plus side, the small-scale brand uses geography to its advantage. 

Ingles' Headquarters and distribution center for Laura Lynn products is in Black Mountain, NC. This hub is located within 250 miles of all 200-plus Ingles Supermarkets, a considerable advantage that works towards freshness in every store. The biggest benefactor of this short supply chain might be Laura Lynn's milk products. The brand works with MILKCO, which sources 80% of all its milk options from within 150 miles of the company headquarters.

12. Sprouts Brand

Sprouts' private label embraces the Saturday market atmosphere and invites shoppers to stick around a spell by beefing up the ready-to-eat options. In the last decade, the company has invested significant resources in the deli department, building more stores with salad bars and soup stations.

The company laid solid groundwork for its private label to whip up more ready-to-eat options, associating itself with fresh and organic ingredients while ranking as one of the healthiest grocery chains in the country. Sprout's store brand supplier has developed a country-wide logistics chain committed to stocking shelves with organic, natural, and fresh food.

Certified B-Corporation KeHE Distributors agreed to supply all of Sprouts Farmers Market private label products, as well as an undisclosed percentage of the deli meats, cheeses, and baked goods that make up the store's quick bite options. The company's prepared food section and the immense variety of supplements are worth a second trip to the growing chain. We're ranking it on the lower end because if you're looking for the cheapest deals, Sprouts isn't the best choice.

11. Aldi

Aldi saves you money on staple food products by cutting costs everywhere else. It doesn't do fancy lighting or Super Bowl commercials — it does low prices. It turns out that's all many customers are looking for.

Aldi has posted the fastest private brand growth rate in the industry, outpacing behemoths like AmazonBasics and doubling the growth of Trader Joe's. The company cleaned its aisles and cut down on frozen food while keeping prices low to capture new clients. Through the growth, the brand hasn't budged from its shelf-stocking strategy. 

A large chunk of the company's sales come from private label offerings. There just aren't a whole lot of other options inside an Aldi, which stocks over 90% private label products. The stores are typically smaller than other chains, stuffed full of whatever is the cheapest to source at the moment. There is no better example of this strategy than 'Aldi Finds,' a rotating collection of private label home goods at a reduced price. Aldi exists to bring low prices to the basics. As long as you don't head in there looking for a wide range of specific ingredients, it's a good option. However, Aldi's limited range places it lower on this list.

10. Publix

Publix built a passionate fan base on the back of its private label brand. The Southeastern grocery giant recognized that customers always returned to certain national brands because they immediately trusted the product's appearance. So the grocery store shifted its focus to upgrading the packaging design of its own products. 

Publix assembled a creative team and extensively examined different ways to communicate with customers through its packaging. While presenting the findings, head of creative Tim Cox kept coming back to one word: simple. Publix took this idea of uncomplicated advertising and ran with it, creating a private label brand that wasn't trying to hide what it was.

Almost 20 years later, the hard work paid off. A 2019 private label industry study polled shoppers who voted Publix as one of the country's most trustworthy brands. Clearly, that's no accident. Publix's award-winning design brought uniformity to its offerings that helped shoppers feel comfortable grabbing these products from the shelf. After a pleasant experience or two filling up the pantry with Publix products, customers recognize the company's black & white logo and colorful splash before even noticing what else is on the shelf.

9. Good & Gather

Good & Gather is the newest store brand on our list, although its history is a bit older than its release in 2019. G&G was born after Target combined Simple Balanced, Archer Farms, and part of Market Pantry into one powerhouse. The brand aimed to help Target's food products stand out from the competition by uniting under one banner.

Being an upstart, G&G had lots of catching up to do. By the end of its first year, the brand offered more than 2,000 different products and generated upwards of $1 billion in total sales. From there, Target has been relentlessly adding great options for snacks and meals alike.

G&G announced plans for 600 new items on the brand's first anniversary. One year later, it dropped a plant-based range that featured 30 vegan options, mostly priced under $5. The best part is the brand is just getting started. Target has set a target of affordable joy for the year 2023 by focusing on more options under $15. At the forefront of its value offerings is Good & Gather.

8. Member's Mark

Member's Mark isn't content playing second fiddle to Kirkland Signature. The already popular private label is gunning for the crown. Sam's Club has been incredibly active with Member's Mark in the last decade. First, there was a consolidation in 2017 that standardized the private label. After that success, the brand is once again overhauling itself at every step of the production line. This current rejuvenation focuses on sustainability and aims to create a brand made for the members and the planet.

If all 11 of the company's objectives are accomplished by the year 2025, Member's Mark will create a new standard for private label sustainability. The sweeping changes promise 100% cage-free eggs, 100% recycled packaging and paper products, and 100% sustainably sourced seafood.

Member's Mark is taking a swing for the fences, which is surprising considering the company was already neck and neck with Kirkland Signature, supplying over 30% of Sam's Club's total sales.

7. Simple Truth

Simple Truth attracted customers by embracing going green. Beginning in 2012, Kroger introduced close to 1,500 different products in the Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic line, all promising to be free from 101 different artificial ingredients. Kroger used its logistics system to source healthier options cheaper than the brand names, resulting in 2 billion dollars in annual sales.

Simple Truth's success indicated that shoppers are ready to go green if the price stays affordable. The company knew a gold mine when it saw one and continued to nurture the Simple Truth line. Let's just hope the brand doesn't get too comfortable. A lot like Nature's Promise, you need to look at Simple Truth's labeling carefully. Not all Simple Truth products are organic, and Kroger was caught in the past using some buzzwords without actually putting the work in.

 At one point, Kroger produced more Fair Trade Certified products through Simple Truth than any other private label grocery brand in the country. The brand has kept animal welfare in mind as well, adding over 50 vegan products. While Simple Truth needs to work on its transparency, there's no denying the numbers. This private brand is a smash hit. 

6. Great Value

You don't have to look much further than the name to figure out why Great Value has seen such great success. As Walmart's private label line, this brand provides significant utility by creating the cheapest products in the grocery store.

The Walmart empire's infrastructure has pushed Great Value to blow the competition away in one key statistic: consumer packaged goods, a subsection of grocery stats that concerns any daily use item that shoppers consistently replace, like food, clothes, and laundry detergent. Walmart's Great Value Brand dominates this essential category, selling 20% more than the next leading option. It makes a whole lot of sense. Nobody is heading to Walmart to buy the highest quality stuff. We're there for low prices. Why go to Walmart and not pick the most affordable option?

Great Value is one of the cheapest ways to grocery stop, but many shoppers consider it the worst private grocery label. Customers let their prejudice against Walmart bleed into their opinion of the private label. You might be surprised at Great Value's quality if you remove the logo. While blind taste tests have shown differences between certain Great Value products and name brands, some products, like Oreo Ice Cream, taste just like the competition. That quality combined with Great Value's super low prices is impressive.

5. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's marketing strategy has inspired perhaps the most successful cult following in the grocery business. A variety of goofy labels, cheery staff members, and experimental offerings all packaged under the Trader Joe's name have been great for name recognition and bottom lines.

The grocery store got here by building its reputation on its private brand. Studies show consumers can't get enough, preferring The Trader Joe's label because of its established credentials. According to one study, customers are more interested in Trader Joe's than any other private label, considering the store brand to be unique and trendy. 

The truth is, Trader Joe's Shelves' products are just repackaged brand names who work with Joe under sworn secrecy. Eater's in-depth investigation of Trader Joe's products found many with the exact same ingredients as national brands, and FOIA requests revealed the secret national brands behind some TJ's favorites. The unique feel of these products is in the packaging only, but the fact that you're essentially getting discounted versions of real name-brand products is a major plus.

4. 365

The 365 store brand has a vital role in helping you afford your daily bread. It's no secret that Whole Foods isn't the most affordable option. The 365 brand brings Whole Foods to a more affordable price point while maintaining the same quality as the rest of the store's products.

The brand's most significant commitment is upholding the 260-ingredient ban that the rest of the store takes on. Whole Foods holds every product in the 365 lines to a high standard that disallows synthetic coloring, preservatives, and many sweeteners. The brand further embraces its responsibility as a low-cost option in a health foods store by creating online home economics courses and classes that cover everything from baking to cleaning, all fueled by 365 products.

365 cements its place towards the top of our list with its transparency. Not everything the brand makes is certified organic, and Whole Foods will be the first to let you know. The company's website features a great guide to deciphering intentionally complicated organic labeling systems. 

3. Wegmans

Wegmans has built a brand around being big. A typical grocery store is about 50,000 square feet and uses that space to stock nearly 36,000 products. For Wegmans, that's just not big enough.

The company runs grocery stores with sizes that range between 70,000 to 140,000 square feet, allowing them to stock up to 20,000 more items than the national average. While the company does stockpiles of fresh produce and plenty of national brands, the real fun of shopping at Wegmans is checking out the massive aisles full of private label products.

Wegmans has pushed its brand further than most, sometimes running full-scale restaurants inside its mammoth grocery stores. Wegmans splits most of its brand products into three separate categories, and the company uses common sense icons on every item to help you know what you're buying. The company continues to focus on its store brand, shifting around store layouts to highlight its private label.

2. H-E-B

H-E-B is a Texas-born grocery store that has reached national prominence despite only having stores in Texas and Mexico. The grocery leans into its born and raised on the border status and keeps the shelves stocked with tastes as big as Texas. Local marketing campaigns, like goofy commercials featuring the San Antonio Spurs, further reinforce the store's Texas bona fides. 

Where you really see the by Texans, for Texans approach shine, though, is in the private label. Per the Houston Chronicle, the company's director of public affairs explained that with each new product, H-E-B asks itself, "How are Texans going to receive this?"

H-E-B's state-based approach to its private label has paid off. While it's far from the largest grocery store, its shoppers rank the chain as their most trusted private label grocer. The company is a legend in Texas, where it has invested millions in disaster relief to give back. H-E-B's determination to serve its local community and produce the products its customers crave earns it the number two spot on this list.

1. Kirkland Signature

We may have spoiled the suspense, but who else would you expect to take the top spot? While most store brands look to keep up with national offerings and cut costs, Kirkland Signature beats the national brands and serves as Costco's secret weapon

Here's one key to Costco's private label brand's success: Many name brands manufacture store-brand products secretly, but Kirkland doesn't always hide where its products come from. The company even slaps the Starbucks logo on its coffee offerings to ensure you know who roasted it. While we don't know who is behind every single product Kirkland Signature sells, we do know there is a vast array of Kirkland Signature products that are better than the brand name and cheaper, too. Many grocery store operators say their products are as great as the national brands, but not many companies have the test results to back it up like Kirkland Signature.

Kirkland Signature has continued to churn out hits, resulting in a long list of products that are worth the cost of a Costco membership. Kirkland manages to combine low cost and high quality in a way that no other store brand can match.