Generic Vs Name-Brand Cheese: Is There A Difference?

An age-old question when perusing the grocery store shelves is "generic or name brand?" For some foods, there seems to be no difference in quality across the brand spectrum while other products appear to be a bit more suspect. Cheese, and other dairy, may fall into the latter category, as many want their perishable items to come from a name they know and trust. But, is this practice all in vain? Should you trust the generic option for all your recipes for cheese lovers? Let's take a closer look to examine all the evidence in this debate.

To put it bluntly, when it comes to your cheese purchase, name-brand might be the way to go! Less expensive cheese has a higher likelihood of containing additives that stray from something being 100% cheese. Additives like palm oil, whey powder, and emulsifying salts have been found in store-brand cheeses from grocers like Aldi. In some blind studies, generic cheese has scored lower on taste tests, making it a potentially less desirable choice. For certain cheeses, such as burrata and brie, professional cheesemongers advise against purchasing from a grocery store altogether due to the pre-packaged, assembly-line presentation of a food that should be enjoyed fresh. Buying straight from a monger is not always feasible, though. If flavor and a lack of outside additives are what you're looking for when you're purchasing a spot of Fromage for your dinner, you may want to stick to the most popular cheese brands

Your circumstances may dictate your cheese choices

Even though purists may want to stick to the big brands for peace of mind, it doesn't mean that store-brand cheese is outright inedible. Far from it. In fact, 365, the Whole Foods store brand, scored relatively well on a recent cheddar cheese taste test, even beating out heavy hitter name brands like Kraft. There is also the looming issue of price difference, which sways in favor of going with the store brand. In a test where the subject switched to entirely store-brand purchases, including cheese, the overall savings were about 40% of the grocery bill. A 2023 study from Cypress Research shows that a majority of US consumers purchased specialty cheeses over the preceding three-month period, showing that some customers will pay for quality when it comes to cheese. That doesn't mean name-brand cheese is always the best or most viable option to toss in your cart, though. 

At the end of the day, different cheese enthusiasts are going to buy different brands and varieties based on their own tastes and economic needs, so it's impossible to say definitively whether generic or name brand is best. Until you can buy the cow and manufacture a batch of Monterey Jack on your own, though, you'll have to continue to make that decision for yourself! It's better that way, any way, since now you don't have to come up with a name for the cow!