picking the best sugarless apple juiceEarth Day arrives on Thursday. While you surely have plans to plant a tree, pick up trash at a park, print your term papers on two-sides (if you have to print them at all), or to bring your own glass to the weekend kegger, the timing also seems right to enjoy nature's goodness.

Apple juice is the perfect (non-alcoholic) beverage for college students: It's cheap, easy to find and tasty. But among all those brands, which one deserves your privileged pick?

Store Brand Scorecard decided to sample no-sugar-added apple juice to see if national brand Mott's or one of three different store brands (each from a big box, grocery and mini market, respectively) has the best taste and price. After all, with you being so good to the planet Thursday (and every day ... right?), Mama Earth would want you to get the best deal. All items were bought at Chicago-area stores, so keep in mind that these prices aren't at every store.



Brand Name: Mott's
Cost:
$2 at Walmart, $2.99 at Chicago-area grocery store (on sale from typical price of $4.19)
Size:
64 ounces
Nutritional Facts:
(for 8 fluid ounces) 120 calories, no fat, 10 milligrams of sodium (0% recommended daily value), 29 grams total carbohydrate (10% recommended daily value), Vitamin C 120% recommended daily value
Taste:
Starts off tart on the tongue, then gradually sweetens. A rich, complex apple flavor throughout.

The Big Box Store:
Walmart
Store Brand Name:
Great Value
Cost:
$1.50 (on sale from typical price of $2)
Size:
96 ounces
Nutritional Facts:
(for 8 fluid ounces) 110 calories, no fat, 35 milligrams of sodium (1% recommended daily value), 28 grams total carbohydrate (9% recommended daily value), Vitamin C 130% recommended daily value
Taste:
For those seeking a worldly flair, consider this. The packaging suggests the concentrate in each bottle come from three countries on three different continents (the United States, China and Poland, specifically). But the power of apples from three different lands doesn't make a better juice; this blend was too thick, almost syrupy. Admittedly a little sweeter than Mott's, but not as flavorful.

The Grocery Store:
Dominick's (a subsidiary of Safway Inc., #52 on this year's Fortune 500 list. In addition to its namesake grocery chain and Dominick's, Safeway owns Vons, Tom Thumb and other stores.)
Store Brand Name:
Safeway
Cost:
$1.99 (on sale from typical price of $2.99)
Size:
64 ounces
Nutritional Facts:
(for 8 fluid ounces) 110 calories, no fat, 35 milligrams of sodium (1% recommended daily value), 28 grams total carbohydrate (9% recommended daily value), Vitamin C 130% recommended daily value
Taste:
This one's the most watery; after a brief burst of apple sweetness, the flavor quickly starts to fade, struggling to hang on to my taste buds. A glass of this a day? Keep me away!

The Mini Market:
Trader Joe's
Store Brand Name:
Trader Joe's
Cost:
$2.49
Size:
64 ounces
Nutritional Facts:
(For 8 fluid ounces) 120 calories, No fat, 10 milligrams of sodium (0% recommended daily value), 30 grams total carbohydrate (9% recommended daily value), Vitamin C 120%
Taste:
This juice has the most character and is the most refreshing. Aside from being the sweetest in the bunch, the apple flavor was surprisingly complex, blossoming into different notes with each sip.

Greatest Value:
This is a tough one. Only one thing is for certain right off the bat: Safeway is the clear loser of this challenge, its diluted juice costing more than Great Value and as much as Mott's at Walmart. Value score on a scale of 0 to 10: 4.

As for the other contenders, the race is a close one when you put cost into the equation. Ounce for penny, Great Value definitely offers the most. Trouble is, it doesn't taste that much better than Safeway, and it's certainly not as good as Mott's and Trader Joe's. Either way you cut it, you've got to seriously love apple juice to take down 96 ounces. But Great Value's juice isn't good enough to make you want to suck down every last drop. Value Score: 7.

That leaves Mott's and Trader Joe's. Interesting dilemma here -- both taste good in their own ways, although I give the edge to the sweeter Trader Joe's blend. Trader Joe's is 50 cents cheaper than Mott's at the current grocery store price, but Mott's is 50 cents cheaper than Trader Joe's when you buy it at Walmart.

This is close, but considering Mott's at the grocery was on sale, and Trader Joe's narrow victory in the taste department, I'm going to give Mott's a value score of 8 and Trader Joe's a value score of 9. That makes Trader Joe's the winner of this challenge. How do you like them apples?

Piet Levy's Store Brand Scorecard tests a major label food product and three private label equivalents to see which brand offers the best value for the price. It appears every Monday on Walletpop's Money College page. Send suggestions to Piet, including products you want him to try, at
moneycollege@walletpop.com.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

Timing Your Spending

How to pay less by changing when you purchase.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum