Nearly every UK home buys some sort of breakfast cereal and more than half of all breakfasts consumed in this country include cereal, according to the Breakfast Cereal Information Service. Yes, I there really is a Breakfast Cereal Information Service – I was as surprised as anyone.
So breakfast is big money for UK supermarkets, but how important is brand? What’s the price difference between own-brands and big brands, and is there really a difference in taste? I’ve been trialling a few of the brands to find out…
Best for cost
I bought a few boxes of Kellogg’s cereal at ASDA and compared them with Tesco and Sainsbury’s own brands, as well as Aldi’s Harvest Morn option.
Here’s how much each cost:
|Brand||Cornflakes||Coco Pops or similar||Frosties or similar||Rice Krispies or similar|
| Kellogg’s at ASDA
||£1.98 (40p/100g)||£2.00 (36p/100g)||£1.98 for 500g||£2.00 for 510g|
||£1.29 (26p/100g||£1.79 (30p/100g)||£1.35 for 500g (27p/100g)||£1.95 for 600g (32p/100g)|
|Sainsbury’s||£1.29 (26p/100g)||N/A|| £1.55 for 500g (31p/100g)
||£1.86 for 600g (31p/100g)|
|Aldi Harvest Morn||£0.69 (17p/100g)||£0.99p (26p/100g)||£0.99 for 500g (20p/100g)||£0.89 for 375g (24p/100g)|
|Cheapest per 100g||Aldi’s Harvest Morn||Aldi’s Harvest Morn||Aldi’s Harvest Morn||Aldi’s Harvest Morn|
So it’s a pretty straightforward comparison. As you’d expect, the big brand is the most expensive, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are very similar and Aldi has the cheapest option by far.
But you don’t necessarily want the cheapest; you want the best value for money. And that means there are two more things to consider, the nutritional value and the taste.
Best for nutrition
Each of these breakfast cereal displays nutritional information on the front of the packet, to help consumers make informed choices about salt, sugar and calorific intake.
Sainsbury’s has one of the easiest to read as it uses green, amber or red to show whether the number should be considered high, medium or low. But the rest provide information about the percentage of a person’s guideline daily recommended amount they contain.
Do the cheaper brands necessarily contain more salt, sugar and general badness, or are they much the same? Taking the Frosties and similar cereals as an example, I’m surprised at how hard it is to compare these products. Some include 125ml of semi-skimmed milk, while others don’t; some call a “portion” 30g, others 25g.
Here’s what I found for 30g servings without milk:
||Calories (no milk)||Sugars||Fat||Salt|
|Aldi Harvest Morn||116||11.1g||0.2g||0.16g|
One thing is clear, the cheaper brands aren’t necessarily more unhealthy than the big-name counterparts. But your kids won’t care if a cereal is cheap – or if it’s healthy – they just want a tasty breakfast.
Best for taste
Taste is a fairly subjective thing, so I gathered five volunteers and together then joined in myself as we munched our way through more cereal than anyone should really eat in a day.
Normally whenever I review the cheaper brands, I’m surprised at the quality of the economy or own-brand option. However, with breakfast cereals it was really hit and miss.
Take the Coco Pops and similar own-brand options. There was simply no loss of quality between the supermarket-own and Kellogg’s options. They tasted different admittedly, but the milk still turned chocolaty and the taste was good.
The cheapest option from Aldi had a slightly less chocolaty flavour and it washed off the rice pops fairly fast but it was still a tasty breakfast cereal.
However, the various corn flake options definitely had more of a difference. The volunteers agreed that the Kellogg’s brand stayed crunchy for longer, although they were divided on whether that was a good thing or not.
But only one out of six of us thought the Aldi cornflakes were a tasty alternative, most of us thought they tasted like cardboard.
The crisped rice cereals seemed identical and the frosted flakes all tasted different but not unpleasant. Kellogg’s had a slight edge, with most people saying they preferred the big brand but would happily eat the other three.
Which is best for value?
If you’re regularly eating a big brand cereal then it’s definitely worth trying a supermarket-own brand instead, you could be surprised at the quality.
A household that ate its way through 500g of cornflakes a week would spend £104 a year on Kellogg’s, while Tesco or Sainsbury’s own would cost them a total of £67.60 – that’s a saving of £36.40 a year. When there’s no drop in quality, it’s got to be worth considering.
If you were happy with the taste of the Aldi Harvest Morn brand, you’d pay just £44.20 a year, saving almost £60. If you’re counting every penny then that could make a real difference.