The Real Brands Behind The Private Labels Of Trader Joe’s, Costco, And More

Some grocery stores, such as Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Walmart, sell their own brands. These retailers do not always make the products that they sell. Instead, they receive products from larger manufacturers under a different name. Depending on the parent brand, you might be able to buy the same item for a lower price under a different name. From shampoo to motor oil to pistachios, here are the real brands behind private label products.

Naked Juice Provides Trader Joe’s Smoothies

Naked Juice bottles are arranged in a box.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trader Joe’s offers some unique smoothies, such as their Very Green Juice and Mango Juice Smoothie. But these juices are exactly the same as Naked. According to Eater, FOIA requests mention that Naked supplies all of Trader Joe’s smoothies.

The ingredients in Trader Joe’s smoothies are slightly different. Like all suppliers for Trader Joe’s, Naked is not allowed to say that it creates their smoothie products. If you’re looking for smoothies, you might grab a cheaper option at a different grocery store.

The Same Red Cups Are Sold At Costco, Target, And More

Two people cheer with plastic red cups.
Michael Fousert/Unsplash
Michael Fousert/Unsplash

If you were to buy plastic red cups at Costco, you would see the label Kirkland Big Red Cups. But if you looked closely, you might spot the insignia for Chinet. This brand produces disposable cups, forks, plates, and more in multiple stores.

These sturdy, heavy-weight plastic cups have become a staple at parties over the years. It pays to shop around and do some price comparisons before buying some for your next big bash.

Frozen Vegetables And French Fries Have The Same Source

Bags of frozen vegetables are stored in an aisle at Aldi.
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

McCain Foods advertises itself as “the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products.” However, it also distributes other frozen foods, such as red vegetables, pizzas, juices, and frozen dinners. If you have bought frozen vegetables at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi, or Walmart, you’ve probably purchased McCain.

But not all of these products will have the McCain Foods label. For instance, Trader Joe’s Fire-Roasted Bell Peppers and Onions are actually from McCain Foods. You might find cheaper options by buying from the source.

Kirkland Signature Hair Care Is Pureology

Costco shampoo and Pureology shampoo are displayed next to each other.
Jessica ORilley/Pinterest
Jessica ORilley/Pinterest

Believe it or not, Costo’s private label hair products are actually a much higher-end brand. Kirkland Signature Moisture Shampoo is actually Pureology Hydrate Shampoo. The bottles even have the same color!

In this case, Costco can save you a lot of money. Pureology shampoo costs anywhere from $30 to $70! Meanwhile, Kirkland shampoo is only $9.99. You’ll receive the same product with some minor differences in ingredients. Both are vegan, sulfate-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, and safe for color-treated hair.

Costco’s Bread Was Once Sold At Starbucks

A variety of bagels are wrapped at Costco.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Costco sells many tasty bread options, from French baguettes to cranberry twists. Much of this bread comes from the San Fransisco-based bakery called La Boulangerie. The weirdest part is that this company used to supply to Starbucks.

In 2017, La Boulangerie’s founder, Pascal Rigo, announced that he would no longer send baked goods to Starbucks. He wanted to sell his bread at an affordable price and thought that Costco would be a perfect fit. It is likely that La Boulangerie supplies to Trader Joe’s, too.

Kirkland Signature Coffee Is Actually Starbucks

Crates of Costco wholesale Kirkland coffee are stacked on top of each other.
Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Costco offers a house brand called Kirkland Signature which they often sell wholesale. Some of Kirkland’s coffee is actually roasted by Starbucks. How can you tell? It’s right on the label!

The next time you pick up Kirkland’s Signature House Blend Medium Roast or Espresso Blend Dark Roast, examine the package. A stamp will say “Custom roasted by Starbucks.” There is little difference between these brands, so you will save a few bucks by buying Starbucks coffee.

Amazon, Walmart, Costco–All The Same Motor Oil

Containers of motor oil are sold at a store.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Warren Oil Company is the largest motor oil producer in North America. However, the product will often change its name depending on where it’s sold. Warren creates Walmart’s Super Tech, Amazon’s AmazonBasics, and Costco’s Kirkland Motor Oil.

You can find out if the product is Warren by looking for “Manufactured by Warren Distribution, Inc.” on the back of the container. Kirkland’s oil is around $55, Amazon’s is $30, and Walmart’s can be as low as $13.47.

You Could Save Thousands On Costco’s Hearing Aids

Several hearing aids sit in a pile.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Sonova is a hearing aid company that usually sells through private distributors. There is one exception, and that is Costco. Kirkland Signature Digital Hearing Instruments are supplied by Sonova.

You could save hundreds or thousands of dollars by buying hearing aids from Costco. While Kirkland hearing aids range from $84 to $300, Sonova’s products can cost up to $4,000! To learn if your hearing aids are Sonova, check the back of the instruction manual for their logo.

Trader Joe’s Does Not Make Its Sushi

Packages of premade sushi are displayed at a grocery store.
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Like many grocery stores, Trader Joe’s offers premade sushi. But the store does not make its own sushi as the label would have you believe. Almost all of its flavors come from the California-based company Fuji Food.

Fuji Food specializes in ready-to-eat sushi. In 2019, a recall proved that Fuji Foods creates many of Trader Joe’s California Rolls and some of its noodle bowls. The good news is that Trader Joe’s sushi costs about the same as other ready-to-eat market sushi.

Stacy And Trader Joe Have The Same Pita Chips

Large bags of Stacy's Pita Chips line a shelf at a Kings Food Market.
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images
James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

In 2010, journalists for Fortune spoke to executives and former employees of Trader Joe’s. They learned that Trader Joe’s does not make their own brand of pita chips. In fact, the real creator is Stacy’s, which is under the parent company PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay.

According to Cheat Sheet, these two bags of pita chips have the exact same ingredients and a very similar taste. But while Trader Joe’s sells these chips for around $14.70, Stacy’s offers even more chips for $14.16.

Kirkland And Duracell: The Same Batteries

Several Duracell batteries lie on top of each other.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you’re looking for quality batteries, go no further than Costco. Kirkland Signature Batteries are actually made by the company Duracell, which is in turn owned by the consumer products conglomerate P&G (Procter and Gamble).

As you might expect, Kirkland batteries are much less expensive. According to Yahoo Finance, a 40-pack of Duracell sells for $16.99, or 42 cents per. battery. Meanwhile, a 72-pack of Kirkland costs $19.99, or 28 cents per battery. And oddly enough, Costco sells both brands!

Walmart’s Peanut Butter Is Cheaper Than Its Parent Brand

A person holds up a jar of Peter Pan Simply Ground Peanut Butter.
Vivien Killilea/WireImage
Vivien Killilea/WireImage

ConAgra Foods creates a popular brand of peanut butter called Peter Pan. A 40-ounce jar sells for around $5, but you can get the same product at Walmart. Walmart’s Great Value brand peanut butter is made by the exact same company, and it sells for around $2.25.

In July 2020, Mashed ranked several peanut butter brands. While Peter Pan was near the bottom, Walmart’s Great Value was at the top. You might as well buy straight from Walmart.

Costco’s Dog Food Is From Diamond Pet Foods

A shopper holds up a bag of Blue Buffalo Dog food.
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images
Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Costco touts its signature Kirkland Dog Food as being premium with fresh meats, whole grains, vegetables, and probiotics. But Costco does not make its dog food. The brand is made by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., one of America’s largest pet food manufacturers.

While Costco’s dog food costs around $27.99 for a 40-pound bag, the same amount of Diamond Dog Food sells for $39.99. Plus, reviews by Dog Food Guide demonstrate that Costco’s products are high-quality. Save your money!

Trader Joe’s Hummus Is Not That Unique

Archer Farms traditional hummus is displayed on a shelf at Target.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Trader Joe’s offers several varieties of hummus, all of which have the store logo on them. However, almost all of these are from other brands. Their Classic Hummus was made by Tribe Mediterranean Foods, and their Mediterranean Hummus comes from Bakkavor Foods.

Companies learned this after a 2016 hummus recall saw Trader Joe’s hummus returning to its parent companies. Oddly, a review of store-bought hummus in The Los Angeles Times ranked Trader Joe’s near the bottom. You might be better off buying from the source.

Walmart And Costco Have The Same Ice Cream

A woman browses ice cream at Walmart.
Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In 2016, an ABC 7 report announced that the company Humboldt started selling ice cream through Walmart. But according to the article, Humboldt was already selling in Costco under the name Kirkland Ice Cream.

If you were to buy vanilla ice cream from Walmart and Costco, they would likely taste the same. However, you might not see the Humboldt logo, as it sold to its competitor Crystal Creamery in 2009. Fortunately, ice cream is relatively cheap.

ConAgra Foods Sells Sweet Corn

Frozen sweet corn sits on a table.
Julia Ewan/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
Julia Ewan/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

ConAgra Foods is one of the largest food supplier companies in North America. They produce brands such as Chef Boyardee and Hebrew National Hot Dogs for several grocery stores. They even supply Trader Joe’s with some of their “signature brand” foods.

For example, Trader Joe’s Organic Super Sweet Cut Corn is from ConAgra Foods. This was proven when ConAgra recalled its products in 2016, including Trader Joe’s products. You might be able to get sweet corn and other ConAgra products from cheaper stores.

Huggies Creates Costco’s Diapers

Boxes of Huggies diapers are stacked at Costco.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Although this is not confirmed, it is likely that Costco’s Kirkland Diapers are not original. They are actually made by Huggies! Rumor has it that Kirkland Diapers are an older version of Huggies that is no longer being sold under the name brand.

When New York Magazine ranked diaper brands in February 2020, both Huggies and Kirkland were high on the list. But depending on the type and bulk you buy, Huggies might actually be cheaper.

Great Value Is Likely McCormick Spices

A shopper reaches toward a display of McCormick spices at a supermarket.
Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walmart sells spices from a company called Great Value. However, there is a high chance that these herbs and spices are actually from McCormick. They have the same taste, same ingredients, and very similar packaging.

This was first discovered by The Krazy Coupon Lady, who called McCormick to confirm. The company simply said that it was “proprietary information.” Whether it is true or not, you can save a few bucks by buying spices from Great Value at Walmart.

Nothing Is Special About Trader Joe’s Pistachios

Packets of Wonderful Pistachios surround a glass container of pistachios.
Vivien Killilea/WireImage
Vivien Killilea/WireImage

Despite being labeled as Trader Joe’s Pistachios, these nuts are not unique to Trader Joe’s. They are produced by The Wonderful Company, which harvests its own nuts, fruits, juices, and more. You might recognize the black packaging of Wonderful Pistachios.

In 2016, a salmonella recall forced Trader Joe’s send back its pistachios, which is how people figured out that they were from The Wonderful Company. While Trader Joe’s Pistachios cost between $18 and $20, Wonderful Pistachios are only around $10.

Kirkland’s Baby Formula Is More Expensive

A shopper examines some Abbott baby formula at a supermarket.
STR/AFP via Getty Images
STR/AFP via Getty Images

In 2001, the USDA’s report to Congress said that the company Abbott Laboratories started supplying infant formula for Costco. But if you walk through the store, you won’t find their infant formula, called Perrigo. You’ll only see Kirkland’s Signature Infant Formula.

Abbott still supplies Costco’s baby formula, only under a different name. They are essentially the same product produced by the same brand. If you want to go cheaper, buy Perrigo, which gives you plenty of formula for around $15 less than Costco.

Walmart’s Great Value Bread Is Sara Lee

Packages of Great Value Bread are stacked on shelves at Walmart.
Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

At Walmart, you can buy Great Value White Bread for less than a dollar. This loaf is actually made by Sara Lee, a bakery that creates several types of high-quality gourmet bread.

Oddly enough, Walmart also sells Sara Lee name-brand bread, but they are more expensive. While Great Value costs around $0.88, a loaf of Sara Lee goes for $2.48 at least. They are the same bakery and same quality, but have different brand names.

The Real Source Of Kirkland Bottled Water

A customer shops for bottled water at Costco.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As one might expect, Costco does not bottle its own water. Kirkland bottled water comes from the company Niagara. This is one of the largest water production companies in the Western United States.

Because these bottles stem from the same source, they taste the same. A 24-pack of Niagara might cost as little as $3, but Kirkland water is around $40 for a 40-pack. You might as well buy Niagara water at a different store.

Same Cauliflower, Different Name

An older woman examines cauliflower for sale.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

If you buy some cauliflower at Trader Joe’s, the bag will be labeled Trader Joe’s Baby Cauliflower. But if you go into another store like Vons, you’ll find CAULILINI. Both of these products are made by the same manufacturer, Mann’s.

Mann’s Fresh Vegetables is a produce production company that sends vegetables to multiple grocery stores, including Walmart and Whole Foods. In 2019, a recall exposed the fact that Trader Joe’s also buys from Mann’s. It is possible that Mann’s supplies some of Trader Joe’s other vegetables, too.

Like Their Hummus, Trader Joe’s Tahini Is Not Unique

Tahini is in a bowl with a spoon by its side.
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trader Joe’s sells many Greek-style sauces and dips, including their Tahini Sauce and Cilantro & Chive Yogurt Dip. But you can purchase both of these products elsewhere. Both of these products are from the family-owned business Yorgo’s Foods.

In 2017, Yorgo’s Foods demanded a recall, and Trader Joe’s greek products disappeared from the shelves. Yorgo’s sells tahini for around $5, whereas Trader Joe’s offers the same product for about $7.45. You can save money by buying it elsewhere.

Albacore Tuna From Bumblebee

Kirkland albacore tuna cans are packaged and sold in Costco.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

People who eat canned tuna are probably familiar with the brand Bumble Bee. The seafood company distributes to major stores such as Walmart, Target, and CVS. But Costco has a different canned tuna called Kirkland Albacore. Or is it different?

In 2003, Costco vice-president Tim Rose told CNN that he was changing their canned tuna brand for quality. They switched to Bumble Bee tuna, but later, the name changed to Kirkland. This proves that Kirkland and Bumble Bee are the same product.

Choose The Cheaper Granola

Granola is laid out on a tray.
Heather Barnes/Unsplash
Heather Barnes/Unsplash

If you want to save money on granola, do not buy it from Trader Joe’s. Their granola is actually produced by Wildway, which manufactures cereals and snack mixes. Trader Joe’s Grainless Granola is around $15, while Wildway Grain Free Granola is only $6.00.

In 2017, Wildway demanded a recall of their granola products, and Trader Joe’s granola flew off the shelf. This proves that these products are mostly the same, meaning that you can purchase granola from other stores.

“Jelly Belly” Is Still On The Kirkland Label

A Kirkland box contains three large jars of Jelly Bellies.
David Feldkamp/Pinterest
David Feldkamp/Pinterest

If you were to buy jelly beans from Walmart and Safeway, you would not see much of a difference. Both packages would contain colorful candy with the Jelly Belly logo. The only difference is that Costco jelly beans are called Kirkland Jelly Belly!

Yep, this is the one brand name supplier that is obvious. Kirkland Jelly Belly is supposed to be the “gourmet” kind, with kosher and fat-free options. But in reality, they are the same exact product.

Blommer Chocolate Covers Almonds

A customers shops for chocolate truffles at Costco.
David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Blommer Chocolate Company is the largest chocolate supplier in North America, making everything from cookies to raw cocoa powder. In 2013, The Costco Connection mentioned that Costco receives its Kirkland Signature chocolate from Blommer.

Blommer and Kirkland cost around the same amount. You can get small packets of chocolate almonds for around $8.00, but you get way more Kirkland almonds for $18.00. It really depends on whether or not you want to buy chocolate in bulk.

Costco Doesn’t Always Have Local Honey

Honey bear containers sit next to a window on a shelf labeled
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images
John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

In a 2019 issue of The Costco Connection, suppliers explained that they source local honey as often as possible. But not all areas have enough beekeepers for local honey, and there is no official definition of “local.” If you buy Kirkland Signature Honey, expect it to be made by suppliers.

According to the magazine, one of Costco’s suppliers is the Colorado-based manufacturer Rice’s Honey. If you want to buy pure Rice’s Honey, you can find it for $5 at Walmart.

The Secret Source Of Kirkland’s Mattresses

A Costco employee hauls four mattresses into the store.
Jack Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jack Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Costco offers several brands of mattresses, but its own Kirkland mattresses are not made there. They come from a partnership between Costco and Stearns & Foster. The difference is that Kirkland mattresses cost way less.

While Kirkland mattresses sell for a few hundred dollars, Stearns & Foster cost around $1,400. That said, there are plenty of other mattress brands at Costco, including Novafoam, Temper-pedic, Beautyrest, and Blackstone. Based on mattress review websites, these brands seem to be more popular than Kirkland.