A Comparison of Concentrations of Sodium and Related Nutrients (Potassium, Total Dietary Fiber, Total and Saturated Fat, and Total Sugar) in Private-Label and National Brands of Popular, Sodium-Contributing, Commercially Packaged Foods in the United States

Published:February 04, 2017DOI:



      Private-label brands account for about one in four foods sold in US supermarkets. They provide value to consumers due to their low cost. We know of no US studies comparing the nutrition content of private-label products with corresponding national brand products.


      The objective was to compare concentrations of sodium and related nutrients (potassium, total dietary fiber, total and saturated fat, and total sugar) in popular sodium-contributing, commercially packaged foods by brand type (national or private-label brand).


      During 2010 to 2014, the Nutrient Data Laboratory of the US Department of Agriculture obtained 1,706 samples of private-label and national brand products from up to 12 locations nationwide and chemically analyzed 937 composites for sodium and related nutrients. The samples came from 61 sodium-contributing, commercially packaged food products for which both private-label and national brands were among the top 75% to 80% of brands for US unit sales. In this post hoc comparative analysis, the authors assigned a variable brand type (national or private label) to each composite and determined mean nutrient contents by brand type overall and by food product and type.

      Statistical analyses performed

      The authors tested for significant differences (P<0.05) by brand type using independent sample t tests or Mann-Whitney U tests when appropriate.


      Overall for all foods sampled, differences between brand types were not statistically significant for any of the nutrients studied. However, differences in both directions exist for a few individual food products and food categories.


      Concentrations of sodium and related nutrients (potassium, total dietary fiber, total and saturated fat, and total sugar) do not differ systematically between private-label and national brands, suggesting that brand type is not a consideration for nutritional quality of foods in the United States. The study data provide public health officials with baseline nutrient content by brand type to help focus US sodium-reduction efforts.


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      J. K. C. Ahuja is a nutritionist, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD.


      P. R. Pehrsson is a research leader, US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD.


      M. Cogswell is a senior scientist (epidemiologist), Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA.