I’ve received some odd packages in my day. None stranger than the single Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, delicately wrapped in a pretty little purple box, that popped through my letterbox the other day, without so much as a note to say who it was from. Em, thanks? Em, eat Dairy Milk, it’s nice?
A more substantial package arrived recently, in a big brown bag, from Centra’s PR folk. I wasn’t immediately delighted: a box of Centra teabags, Centra’s own brand version of Mars Bars (I hate Mars bars), their own brand Twixes (I hate Twixes, except in Canada where they’re the only half decent sugary chocolate) and their own brand Snickers (a big huge meh). There was also a packet of Centra’s own brand chocolate chip cookies.
The packaging was minimal. The bars have names such as “Biscuit and Caramel Bar” and “Chunky Chocolate Caramel Bar.” I’m clearly in the wrong business: naming food products must be a huge cash cow. Anyway, despite the unimaginative name, these cheap alternatives are great value. In particular, I didn’t just tolerate the “Chunky Chocolate Caramel Bars” (imitation Mars bars). I actually liked them: if you’re looking for a sugar fix, they’re a lot tastier and sweeter than Mars bars (by way of contrast, somebody recently gave me one of the imitation Mars bars from the Superquinn Essentials range, and it was yuck). Oh, and the tea is fine.
I should have known. Centra’s own brand offerings – presumably made in the same factory as SuperValu’s own brand produce – are, despite the packaging, surprisingly good. Some products – sugar, flour, potatoes, rice, jam, soup, and ham* – are delicious and up to 33 per cent cheaper than branded products. Others, including Centra’s rather sour own brand ketchup, are best avoided.
We all find ourselves in convenience stores now and again, and they can be pricey, but Centra’s own brand range includes 200 own brand products for less than €2. It offers a viable alternative to going to a supermarket for just a few items.
What own brands can you recommend?
(*Edited on 06/10: originally I inadvertently said that “kitchen roll [is] delicious.” Oops.