New Zealand study finds 'homebrand' products deliver as much nutrition as pricier ones

Good news for those of us pinching our pennies: A New Zealand study of thousands of packaged food products has found that 'fancier' brands are actually no better for you than supermarket brands. 

The study, published this week in the journal Nutrients, found supermarket own brands – such as Pams or Countdown's Own – are delivering nutrition similar to more expensive branded food products from the same stores.

Dr Teresa Gontijo de Castro, Dr Sally Mackay and Dr Helen Eyles, researchers in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, examined 4266 own-brand products and 19,318 branded products from 2015 to 2019.

For most food categories, no significant difference was found in mean sodium or sugar content between private label (PL) and branded label (BL) products. 

The results busted the "common myth that supermarket own-brand options are nutritionally inferior to their branded counterparts," said Dr Mackay.

"There is still a great deal of room to improve the healthiness of packaged foods sold in supermarkets," added Dr Gontijo de Castro. "However, what we've learned is important for shoppers struggling with their budgets.

"Our findings do not mean that, overall, supermarkets are performing perfectly, but it does show that their house-brand food products may be a good nutritional choice for budget-conscious consumers." 

The full results of the study entitled 'Comparison of Healthiness, Labelling, and Price between Private and Branded Label Packaged Foods in New Zealand (2015–2019)' can be found online.