Will this surprising new research make you change your shopping habits? 43



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You might only buy supermarket-own brand when you want to shave a few bucks off your bill, but new research shows that choosing supermarket own brands may be a win-win.

As well as saving you money, the plain wrapped own brands may be better for you than expensive premium brands.

Home or own brand foods were found to contain “consistently and substantially” less salt than pricier, branded rivals, the new research shows.

Around 15,680 products were looked at from all the main food retailers including Woolworths, Coles, Aldi and IGA.

Researchers from George Institute for Global Health, found home-brand foods have 17 per cent less salt than their branded counterparts.

Professor Bruce Neal, Head of the Food Policy Division at the George Institute for Global Health, said the study, which was published in Nutrients, gives consumers important new information for making healthier food choices.

“When it comes to food, knowledge really is power and research like this gives shoppers and their families more control over their diets,” Prof Neal said.

“Excess salt in food leads to high blood pressure and greatly increased risks of stroke and heart attack.

“Reducing salt in line with World Health Organisations recommendations could save thousands of lives every year and hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare costs.

“Consumers find it hard to choose healthier foods because labelling is often confusing.

“The exciting thing about this research is that it shows supermarkets can lead the way if they want to.”

Lead Author Helen Trevena, from the George Institute, said the study could shift perceptions in the supermarket aisles.

“The general opinion among consumers is that supermarket brands are of an inferior quality, but this research shows that is not always the case in regard to salt,” Ms Trevena said.

“We looked at thousands of products across the major supermarket chains in 2011 and 2013 and found that when it comes to salt content, supermarket private label products can be a lower salt option.

“This is good news, especially for families shopping on tight budgets who are more likely to buy private label products, but are also most likely to suffer from health problems caused by high blood pressure.”

In the study, A Comparison of the Sodium Content of Supermarket Private-Label and Branded Foods in Australia the researchers were surprised to find salt content was an average 27 per cent lower in desserts, 24 per cent in biscuits, 22 per cent in processed meats, and 7 per cent in breads.

But the breakfast cereal category bucked the trend. Salt content in private label cereals was 37 per cent higher.

“This is good news, especially for families shopping on tight budgets who are more likely to buy private label products, but are also most likely to suffer from health problems caused by high blood pressure.”

A study by Roy Morgan data in May revealed nearly half of Australia’s 14 million regular grocery shoppers were trying to reduce their grocery bills. But nearly three-quarters said they preferred sticking with their favourite brands.

Do you usually stick with your favourite brands and will this new research get you to make the switch to own brands?


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The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Very interesting! I’m a brand person,after trying the no name brands,but if the salt content is that low,it will make me look at them in a different light.

  2. I have no probs with own brands as I know they are made to spec and marginally costed to maintain full utilisation of the packaging plant.

    I also buy specials when they are on as I don’t mind having several weeks supply in the pantry. Remember FIFO and rotate what you have in the pantry. B|

  3. I DO NOT buy homebrand foods as it just makes it hard for Aussie producers. The fact the same product could be in plain packaging means you cannot see who produced the product so NO I DO NOT buy homebrand products if i can avoid it.

  4. I use home brands all the time, can’t tell any difference from brand names, except they are cheaper.

  5. Don’t buy much in way of processed foods. Make my own bread, cakes, biscuits, ice-cream, soup etc as you can control what goes into them. Anything I do buy try to make sure it is made in Australia and with Milk etc that it comes from WA.

  6. I never understand when they say labels are confusing, just turn it over and read it ingredients and %.have been in packaging for decades. Remember to check country of origin lot of home brands are a bit dodgy on that front

  7. Sounds funny , why would they use less salt in home brands , sounds like something’ supermarket s have got up to get people to buy them

    1 REPLY
    • I am with you on this one, Wendy. I believe the Supermarkets look after their own interests first.

  8. Very high percent of generic brands are made & packaged by the big brands anyway. Especially those in Aust.

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