When I was a child I thought generic food was just… food.
I thought cereal always came in bags and milk came in cans labeled milk. I did not know any different so generic products were the norm to me. My first experience with name brand products was at a friends house when her mom gave me my first actual Poptart. The kind with frosting on top.
I was super pumped to get that extra sugar on top. Up until then I was routinely given bare poptarts with a heavy coating of butter in place of icing. As I bit into the name brand poptart I was disappointed to find that there was in fact little difference between the generic and the name brand poptarts. I, in fact, actually preferred my buttery, less sugared, generic “toaster pastry”.
I found this trend prevalent in a large number of food, drug, and toiletry items alike. So armed with my personal experience I set out to find if there truly was any grand difference between generic and name brand products besides the price.
What’s the Deal with Generic?
Some of the interesting and helpful facts that I discovered about generic products is that on average they cost 30% less than their brand name counterpart. This evidence is important as it confirms what many of us already knew: that generic products cost less.
Also interesting was confirmation that many brand names actually produce generic products. Many brand names sell excess products under a generic label. Evidence of this can be further validated by the recall of brand name Peter Pan peanut butter products due to harmful bacteria found on the peanuts used to make their products resulting in the recall of the generic Great Value brand peanut products as well.
Generic brands are also able to sell items at lower cost than comparable brands because of the nonexistent marketing and low packaging costs they entail. A can of soup, for example, does not have to spend millions of dollars on creating advertising then paying for ad space, generic soup also does not have to worry about paying an artist to design a cover for their product, then pay copyright fees in order to gain ownership of that design. With those costs gone they are able to reduce the cost of the product while still garnering a large profit.
To further confirm the fact that there is often little to no difference between brand name products and generic ones is the fact that food and drug products are required to be approved primarily by the Food and Drug Administration before being released to the masses. This requirement ensure that the main ingredients in products of a similar type are the same. What can differ are fillers and excess ingredients that are not necessarily needed. This particular fact especially relieves stress when pondering whether to get the lower cost generic drug.
In conclusion, the answer to the age old question of whether generic products are significantly worse than their brand name counterparts is NO.