What do you suppose is behind this fast spreading practice in Wal*Mart, Kmart, Walgreen Drugs and other stores? How do they do it? Do they have thousands of factories and processing plants all over the country pumping out food, drink, pharmaceuticals, and whatever else? I’m talking about the way these stores stock their shelves with their own store brand labels affixed to so many varied products. And how about the way they set the price lower than the popular name brands? Often, far lower. Well, the latter is really not much of a mystery. Because these store don’t pay huge amounts of money to advertise, it’s not difficult keeping the cost lower than that of widely touted name brands that spend millions on ads, coupons, and promotionals.

Let’s take, for instance, nutrient drinks like “Ensure”and “Boost” lining the Wal*Mart shelves. Wal*Mart also provides a most prominent place for “Equate”, its own brand of nutrient drink. On the can is printed the words, “Compare to Ensure”. Takes confidence to stand up to the brand leader. This “Equate” product sells for a lot less than does “Ensure”. Further, a check of the ingredients shows that the contents are just about identical. How can Wal*Mart and other stores do this with so many products? Why don’t the “big guys” object and refuse to do business with these cost-cutting stores?

Is it possible that Wal*Mart actually produces all the items under its label? If so, in my muddled mind, I envision thousands of busy assembly lines across the country. Yet, it’s only “in my mind” that I see this. Never in my travels have I come across these many productive plants. I’ve not encountered an “Equate” sign on any building anywhere. So where and how do those millions of cans get filled? Where do the ingredients get mixed?

And note that there are countless products bearing the Wal*Mart brand in addition to “Equate”. For example, check the hot cocoa boxes and cans of carrots, bearing the “Great Value” label. Perhaps, these products are imported from foreign lands, where labor costs are greatly reduced. The cocoa box tells me that it’s “a product of Canada”. I must admit I haven’t traveled the breadth of that country in search of a Wal*Mart plant. Nor have I toured Bentonville, Arkansas, where a massive mother plant might be located.

Or is there a conspiracy abroad? Is it not conceivable that providers of name brands seek an alternative customer base, yet at the same time want to hold to the higher prices as well? Would it not behoove them to place a less costly product on the shelf displaying another less-known label. Certainly, with bonuses to the store, this practice might work to their advantage. Ingenuous and especially well-to-do shoppers, brain dead from bombardments of ads and coupons, would still reach for the well-known brand, while the less affluent, forced by necessity to cut corners, would see the less costly “store brand” as a bargain.

Picture it. On a regular basis, unmarked trucks arrive at a mysterious bayou plant in the hush of the wee hours, when only special stockholders, sworn to secrecy, are at work. Huge anonymous containers of various name brands products are unloaded. The containers are emptied into large vats and thoroughly mixed, with a bit more sugar, vanilla, flavored syrup, etc. added to slightly change the taste or appearance.

Then, as the fog rises and alligators come awake, the oblivious day crew arrives to start the belts moving, assembly line racks loaded with cans and lids, ready to accept the special product of the vats. Cartons are filled and loaded on company trucks to be delivered to store shelves. The cans and/or packages now bear the “Equate” or the “Great Value” label. Who’s to know the details? Maybe all of this can be easily explained, but it sure makes me wonder.




© By RickMack (Rmrickmack@aol.com)


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