Paycheck Chronicles

Commissaries Offering Private Brand Products

If you're in the continental United States, you may have noticed some new brands at the commissary. Starting last May, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has been slow introducing some new products to stores, with full roll-out to occur in January and February of 2018. These store brands, Freedom's Choice, TopCare, and HomeBase, are similar to store brand (or generic) products available at civilian grocery stores.

So far, you may have seen store brand water, plastic storage bags, and pharmacy items at your local store. (I have!) The newest round of roll-outs will include cheese, rice and dry beans, foam and plastic plates, non-perishable juices, water enhancers and powdered soft drinks, paper towels and bath tissue.

Chris Burns, DeCA’s executive director of business transformation, says “When we first introduced our commissary store brands, we promised our patrons we would gradually roll out a vibrant variety of low-cost, quality equivalents to national brands.By the end of the year we will have over 400 brand products available.” Within three to four years, DeCA plans to have 3,000 to 4,000 commissary store brand items available.

tore brands can be a great way to lower your grocery bills, with most store brand products at least 10% less expensive than the major brand name products. For most families, cutting 10% off their grocery bill can be a lot of money. One consideration with store brands is that they don't usually go one sale, and they don't offer coupons. If you shop the sales and use coupons, you may not save as much with store brand products.

How's the quality? Store brands usually strive to mimic the quality of their name brand counterparts. So far, I've used about four commissary store brand products, and I've been happy with all but one.  (And that might just be me - they were zipper sandwich bags, and I could just never get the zippers to zip properly.) It's almost always worth trying the store brands at least once to see if they'll work for your family. They're never going to be awful, they just might be a smidge different from what you're currently using.

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