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Cool things on the cheap: under the Kirkland Signature brand, Costco sells products of well-known American companies

Costco launched products under the Kirkland Signature brand in 1995 as fronts for its various private labels. The name comes from the company's original headquarters in Washington state. At that time, there were about 30 different products, and now there are 364 products under the Kirkland brand, reports Fool.

Photo: Shutterstock

Companies create their own brands to control the quality of their products. Private labels tend to be cheaper than national brands and offer higher margins. Kirkland Signature is known for its high quality products at low prices, but it may surprise you to learn that the top national brands are also third party manufacturers of Kirkland Signature products. The only difference between them and the famous brand is the lower price and the clear black, red and white label and packaging.

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Many of the big names behind Kirkland Signature are printed on the packaging, while others are kept in the strictest confidence. Here are some of the nationally recognized brands behind Costco Kirkland Signature products.

Starbucks coffee

Several Kirkland Signature coffees are roasted to order by the Starbucks Coffee Company. Specifically, they include the 2,5-pound Kirkland Signature Espresso Blend Coffee, House Blend Coffee, and Regular House Coffee. The price per pound for Kirkland's Signature House Blend Coffee is $6,20. Costco sells a 2,5-pound Starbucks French Roast Whole Bean Coffee for $9,40 per pound, so you'll save a lot of money by buying the brand name.

Duracell Batteries

In an interview with WSB-TV in Atlanta in 2016, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek revealed that Duracell is a manufacturer of Kirkland Signature batteries. A pack of 48 Kirkland Signature AA alkaline batteries costs $13,99, or $0,29 per cell. Duracell AA batteries are sold on the Costco website for $0,40 each, nearly 40% more than the same Kirkland-branded batteries.

Bumble Bee Tuna

In a 2003 interview with Money magazine, Costco Executive Vice President Tim Rose stated that Kirkland Signature's Albacore Solid White Tuna is made by international seafood company Bumble Bee. Costco sells 7 oz. 8 pieces for $18,99, while the equivalent Bumble Bee product sells for $26,90 on Amazon.

Diamond Naturals dog food

Prominent pet websites claim that Kirkland Signature dog food is made by Diamond Pet Foods. Kirkland Signature Small Form Dog Food with Chicken and Vegetables sells for $1,65 per pound, compared to the equivalent Diamond Pet Food at $1,85 per pound.

Diapers Huggies

In a 2017 Wall Street Journal interview, Costco CFO Richard Galanti confirmed that Huggies maker Kimberly-Clark is the maker of Kirkland Signature diapers. Costco sells its diapers for $0,18 per diaper and Costco sells Huggies for $0,24 per diaper.

Reynolds aluminum foil

The Reynolds name from New Zealand is proudly displayed on Kirkland's packaging. The price per square foot for the Costco brand is $0,05, compared to $0,07 for Reynold.

High quality and low prices

There are also dozens of other Kirkland Signature products made by top national brands. Here are just a few of them:

  • Coffee Green Mountain Keurig K-Cups
  • Cranberry Juice Ocean Spray
  • Perrigo infant formula
  • Bottled water Niagara
  • Chinese disposable cups
  • Green tea Ito En
  • Shrimp Kader Exports
  • Scotch Alexander Murray
  • HK Anderson nuggets with peanut butter filling
  • Warren engine oil
  • Bree Isigny Ste-Mere

Costco created Kirkland to create brand awareness. Kirkland Signature brand sales topped $59 billion last year and accounted for 31% of Costco's total revenue.

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Kirkland's sales continue to grow as more customers recognize that these products are as good or as good as national brands. This makes sense given that many of the leading brands are third-party manufacturers of Kirkland products.

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