3 Surprising Things About Costco's Kirkland Products

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  • Many items at Costco are sold under the store's signature Kirkland brand.
  • While purchasing Kirkland products can be a money-saving move, there are some pitfalls you might encounter.
  • Kirkland brand isn't always the cheapest option, food items might taste different than their comparable products, and you should watch out for allergy issues.

Don't get caught off guard in the course of your shopping.

If you're a Costco member who shops at the warehouse club often, then chances are, you've come across your share of Kirkland products. But if you're new to Costco, here's a quick primer.

Kirkland is Costco's signature brand. Roam the aisles, and you might find your share of Kirkland products alongside their name-brand counterparts.

Many people who shop at Costco regularly make a point to load up on Kirkland products for the savings involved -- myself included. But Kirkland products can actually be a bit of a mixed bag. Here are three surprises you might encounter if you buy Kirkland products.

1. They may not always cost less

The upside of shopping at Costco in general is getting to save money on bulk items and household essentials. And if you load up on Kirkland items, you might rack up an even lower credit card tab in the course of your shopping.

But don't assume the Kirkland version of a given product will always be less expensive than its name-brand alternative. Sometimes, it won't be.

Costco frequently runs sales on its bulk items, and that extends to name brands. So it may be the case that one month, you can purchase name-brand sour cream or butter at a lower price point than what you'll pay for the Kirkland version.

2. They might taste different than the brands you're used to

Here's a lesser-known fact about Kirkland products: Many of them are name-brand products in disguise (and with slightly less fancy packaging). In spite of this, Kirkland food products won't always taste the same as the products you may be used to. That can be a good thing or a bad one.

Take infant formula, for example. I have a friend who tried stocking up on the Kirkland brand when formula became hard to get. But her daughter hated it, so that ended up being a useless purchase.

On the other hand, I have a different friend whose child switched over to Kirkland formula with no issue at all. And now, formula costs her a lot less on a whole. So you really never know what you're going to get, but if you're buying Kirkland items for your kids, you should prepare for some pickiness to rear its ugly head.

3. You might run into issues with allergies

Some children and adults have severe allergies, to the point where they have to worry about cross-contamination in food production. If that situation applies to you or someone in your family, you'll need to be careful when buying Kirkland products.

Some items that don't contain nuts, for example, are manufactured on lines that create cross-contamination issues. A friend of mine whose child has a peanut allergy won't use Kirkland chocolate chips for that reason.

Buying Kirkland products could be a big source of savings -- at least most of the time. Just be aware of these surprises if you're purchasing Kirkland items for the first time, or if you're buying Kirkland items you've never tried before.

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