- a blog about food and value

Product review: Superquinn Essentials

1-essentials-complete-range1I’ll start by saying that I very rarely, if ever, opt for Tesco Value or St. Bernard products. I’ve suppressed the gag reflex when served a shiny roast St. Bernard chicken; shivered as I imagine its horrific life in a tight, dirty place with the walls closing in; and clamped my facial muscles as I try not to react to its astringent, watery and dry, slimy awfulness.

So when Superquinn sent me a hamper full of their new Essentials range, I was equally dubious. Essentials is their answer to Tesco Value, and the range is huge, containing your usual staples – peas, beans, milk, spaghetti, bread, fruit and veg, sugar, cheese, salt, eggs, cooking oils, tinned veg, meat and chicken, juice, flour, sugar, teabags, eggs, rice – alongside treats such as cheesecake, sponge cake, and chocolate cake. There’s also a range of non-food items, including bleach, kitchen paper, tin foil, washing up liquid, and disinfectant.

essentialsOver half the items are under €1, while many are under 50c. It’s great that Superquinn are giving people a choice. It’s certainly a welcome addition to the supermarket, making it more competitive than ever. For many people on a tight budget, Tesco Value and Superquinn Essentials are vital money savers.

There’s only one problem, of course. One glaring, obvious problem: value ranges, particularly for items such as chicken, don’t tend to be as good. I made a bolognaise using Superquinn’s meatballs – the pasta was perfectly fine, the tinned tomatoes were good, and the garlic bread was surprisingly delicious. But the meatballs had the texture and taste of cat food – and I’d know, having eaten cat food for a dare in my teens. In fairness, pre-made meatballs can be peculiar; maybe the Essentials mince is nicer. Tip: for fatty mince, boil it for a few minutes, strain, and fry. It’ll get rid of the fat without losing the flavour.

I liked the thick and creamy yogurt. The fruit was pretty good, nothing wrong with them bananas. The chocolate cake was okay, but I don’t quite get why you’d treat yourself to a cheap cake; surely it’s the whole hog or nothing. That said, it’d be easy to fob off on some kids for a birthday party.

Some other things I would go for: their milk, their sausage rolls, their sugar, their butter, their apple juice, their salt, their cling film, tin foil, bleach. And their water, if I was obsessive or mad enough to buy bottled water – surely the existence of “value” bottled water is an oxymoron.

What do you think of Superquinn Essentials and other value ranges? Do you snub your nose, or do you think they offer an important choice?


  1. Did you try their cheese, what was that like?

  2. Unsurprisingly bland. Grand for a toastie, or for kids who don’t truly appreciate cheese.

  3. A lot of own brand products are actually big brands just in different packaging. I know that the Spar jam is actually Chivers jam. I think for the most part staples such as pasta, tinned toms etc are going to be perfectly fine. But I do have a horrible image of that chicken!

  4. I love the value ranges! Especially for tinned goods – I actually think the value is most noticable for things like chickpeas, off the top of my head I think tesco value chickpeas are about 59 cent or so, whereas a lot of other tinned chickpeas are presented at premium health-food prices!

    Obviously, it would still be cheaper to soak your own, but truth be told I’m just not organised enough!

  5. Ive said it before and Ill say it again Lydia, check the manufacturers code. If its the same, then the product came from the same factory.

  6. bought a few of the Essentials range recently – pasta, yoghurts, milk etc – all fine and definitely a useful addition to Superquinn whose main problem previously has been lack of own-brand products.

    I generally wouldn’t touch tesco “Value” meat or ready-meals as they’re likely to be loaded with water or salt respectively.

    Also (and it probably shouldn’t matter but it does) the “Value” range is packaged as unattractively as possible, presumably to distinguish it from the regular Tesco brands and the Finest stuff – IMO Tesco don’t really want people to buy “Value”, its mainly there to make people feel better about buying the regular own-brand stuff. The “Essentials” range is quite attractively packaged in comparison.

  7. I dont know about T*sco but the saturated fat content of “value” mince is enough to get me skipping an extra bottle of wine in the week to buy the higher quality stuff.

  8. Liam, definitely agree about the Essentials packaging – much much more appealing

  9. I agree with Claire on her last point. And the same goes for cheap cakes and cheap breads. They are cheap because they contain more craps to bulk them up. I would rather buy the value flour, value butter and value fruits (but value eggs are a no no, they go hand in hand with the chicken) and bake a value cake that taste of a nice cake and doesn’t have hydrogenated fat, or added E-younameit.
    And sometimes, you get what you pay for and cheap is not always good value. For instance, cheap kitchen rolls are half the price, but you need to use twice as much to soak a spill, so where is the value in that?

  10. I too got to try their range for the blog and admit before I write that I am a fan of Superquinn – I’ve always liked their breads that they make and cook in store and how clean their stores are but they haven’t had a good “value” offering to date. Peter, I think I am the person they are targeting their bottled water at as I’m a sparkling water addict ;0) and it’s only 49 cent for a large bottle of sparkling water. That’s ridiculously good value when you consider Ballygowan is nearly three times as expensive and in a blind taste test, I reckon you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Their pasta at 49 cent a bag is cheap too – with the exception of fresh pasta there is no reason to pay a premium for branded pasta. Claire is completely right about own label manufacturers – I used to work for a big branded pasta company and the Italian factory that made the branded pasta, used the same recipe/machines/line to produce own label. I can’t stand the meat or fish from Tesco – it’s always slimy from my local branch and even though it’s closer than Superquinn I just refuse to shop there. I admit I haven’t tried everything but I do now buy from the range as it allows me avoid doing a second shop in a say Lidl when dragging two kids along to a second supermarket after a long week, is just a step too far.