/ Food & Drink

Will our taste tests convince you to ditch your fave brands?

Tomato soup

Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Aldi cream of tomato soups have beaten the iconic Heinz Classic variety in the latest Which? taste test. Would you swap a much-loved brand for a supermarket label?

I must admit I was surprised when the results of the latest taste test arrived at the Which? offices. I didn’t think for one minute that a supermarket own label soup would measure up to the nation’s favourite soup brand.

But three supermarket soups were voted tastier than Heinz – which came joint-fourth in the rankings.

Supermarket soups beat Heinz soup

Which? soup taste test resultsTo find the tastiest soup, we pitted 11 supermarket labels and best-selling brands against each other in a blind taste test. The soups were rated on taste, texture, appearance and aroma, according to the palates of 100 members of the general public.

Sainsbury’s cream of tomato came top for flavour and scored 76% overall; Tesco’s version came a close second with 74%; and Aldi’s Soupreme cream of tomato scored 72%.

And because there was a clear distinction between these three and all the rest – we’ve made them Best Buys.

Blinded by big brands

Before seeing these results in black and white, nothing would have tempted me away from Heinz Classic Cream of Tomato soup. Until now, it’s always been my soup-of-choice, bringing to mind a comforting snack on blustery autumn days, with a freshly-baked white crusty roll. On the other hand, if someone said ‘supermarket soup’ I’d imagine a thin, vinegary and unappetising poor substitute by comparison.

This kind of unconscious ingrained bias is the main reason we carry out ‘blind’ taste tests. Not one of our soup tasters could identify any of the soups they were sampling. But are these indisputable findings enough to make me switch the soup I buy?

Even when you consider that all three soups are a lot cheaper than the brands – Aldi’s soup is less than half the price of a can of Heinz – I have to admit I’m not sure I’ll reach for the own-label tomato soup the next time I’m in Sainsbury’s. OK, I will try it; but the pull of my affinity to Heinz might stop me from enjoying it.

Would you switch soups?

This all got me thinking about other brands I wouldn’t dream of ditching. I mean, I’ll happily switch my bank, insurance or energy supplier at the drop of a hat if it means I’d get a better deal, but choose cola over Coke, or generic chocolate over Cadbury’s? Never!

I’m curious to see whether our taste test results would encourage any Heinz Classic Cream of Tomato Soup fans to give our supermarket Best Buys a try. Or will you stick with what you love? And more generally – which brands would you be happy to sacrifice, and which brands won’t you be parted from?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I keep some cans of soup etc. for use when I get back from holiday and have not been shopping or explored the freezer. After a can of Heinz tomato soup I realised that I had consumed 2.4 g salt – 40% of the maximum daily intake recommended for an adult.

When restocking the cupboard I might pay attention to the salt content of the products on offer or be patient enough to defrost something interesting and healthy than tinned soup.

Member
liam mitchell says:
16 March 2015

ill always eat heinz no matter what yall sayyyyy

Member
hornett says:
19 March 2015

Have you ever tried the other brand as I have not. Its all about the positioning and packaging. What deters you from supermarkets own brands?

Profile photo of Moaner76
Member

Also just found out there’s 4 teaspoons of sugar in a can Heinz tomato soup wow 👎

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

It’s been a long time since I had any canned soup although there’s the odd tin or two at the back of the cupboard “just in case”. When I was partial to soup, especially in the winter, I always rated Sainsbury’s highly and preferred it to Heinz and M&S [which scored only 55%!]. I am not surprised that Baxters scored low [61%] – their cream of tomato was never their best. I think it was the sugar content rather than the salt content that put me off canned soups; nowadays we make our own, both toothsome and nutritious.

Profile photo of Jess O'Leary
Member

These soups are salty. Baxter’s was the saltiest soup we tested, with 2.6g salt per can. The recommended daily intake of salt for an adult is 6g.

They’re also sugary: the sweetest soups contain almost six teaspoons of sugar per can. Interestingly, the three Best Buys voted tastiest were the sweetest soups we tested.

When you think about it – this is a lot of sugar and salt. If I were making my own soup and the recipe told me to ‘stir in in six teaspoons of sugar’ I’d wonder if I were reading it right. And although I can’t quite image what 2.6g of salt ‘looks like’, I’m guessing it’s more than the light dusting of seasoning I would add.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Looking at a can of Heinz soup, it contains 12g of fat, in addition to the sugar and salt. I wonder what has happened to the ‘traffic light’ labels we heard about a few months ago.

Time to make some soup, I think. Mine will not contain any sugar and not much salt.

Profile photo of Jess O'Leary
Member

… and maybe avoid a ‘cream of’ recipe, Wavechange?!

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

You are right about that, Jess. 🙂

Incidentally, Heinz ‘Cream of Tomato Soup’ contains more salt by weight than cream. Since the amount of cream is not declared despite being mentioned in the name, I presume the amount is below the threshold for this to be necessary. Most of the fat content is from vegetable oil.

Member

Sugar !!!! How can you make a “food” product that contains so much sugar a “Best Buy” ? Would a brand of cigarette be a Best Buy because some expert said it tasted better than the others? Salt and fat have nothing on sugar when it comes to being a health hazard. Please consider campaigning against the evils of sugar in the stuff supermarkets sell as “Food” , and certainly don’t call the stuff “Best Buy”. When testing and comparing other products there have been occasions when the results have read that there hasn’t been a “Best Buy” because certain standards are not met by any of the tested products, so why not food. “Which ?” should campaign against sugar in the stuff that is sold for us to eat, if “Which?” achieved a reduction of sugar in the nations diet it would be the single most important achievement in the associations history.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Many of us eat too much sugar and it is perfectly possible to make palatable soup without it, but please don’t regard it as a poison. Whatever food we eat, some of it is converted into blood sugar, which is needed for various purposes including keeping our brains functioning.

We should restrict our intake of sugar, salt and fat.

Profile photo of Jess O'Leary
Member

Hi Ian,

Thanks for your comments. Over the years, Which? has campaigned to encourage government and manufacturers to provide better food labelling, ie the traffic light system, and with manufactures to reformulate their recipes to reduce salt, fat and sugar levels.

The sugar content did not vary greatly between the soups on test, and some that were lower in sugar were higher in salt. Even though our Best Buys had the highest levels of sugar they would still get an amber sugar rating in the traffic light labelling scheme.

We used a panel of 100 everyday consumers to rate these soups, so the results are perhaps a reflection of how our palates are conditioned to prefer sweeter foods. Interestingly, we did a small-scale taste test (involving 26 tasters) in the Which? offices between Heinz Classic Cream of Tomato and Heinz’s reduced salt version – which has 25% less of salt. The results were remarkably close, with 15 preferring the original and 11 preferring the low salt option.

Profile photo of Guy Chapman
Member

The thing that irritates me is the unnecessary use of gluten. Many soups contain wheat flour for no obvious reason: you can thicken soups with potato or other ingredients.

This means I have to wade through the small print in order to discover if the product is safe.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

With approaching 1% of the population sensitive to gluten and some seriously affected, it’s time to lobby the food companies to produce soups and other foods that can be enjoyed by everyone. Those who have a nut allergy are often faced with the disclaimers such as ‘cannot guarantee free from nuts’, which is really unhelpful.

Profile photo of Guy Chapman
Member

Absolutely. “No gluten containing ingredients” doesn’t cut it when there might be cross-contamination.

Member

Who makes the own brands because Tesco, Asda or Aldi don’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if they come out the same food processing plant.

Member

So they might, but not to the same recipe. The texture is quite different, and the amounts of sugar on the label also differ.

Member
Chris says:
27 January 2015

It don’t matter which soup you found better in the taste test because Heinz Tomato soup is no longer being available as the company is discontinuing it. To them it doesn’t matter if it is America’s and Canada’s favorite Tomato Soup or not it will soon if it hasn’t yet disappear from store shelves shortly. Warren Buffet has sure screwed up Heinz and my personal feelings are that he bought it to eliminate it completely. If people still want the Heinz brand Tomato soup they should flood the company with emails and letters. But I don’t think that Heinz or Buffet could care less about what the consumer thinks or wants. Big bucks is their only concern but maybe if people started buying brands other than Heinz they may get a change of attitude towards the consumer where their bread and butter ( BIG BUKS COMES FROM) but I really doubt that Heinz or his worship could really care. Our family has been using the Heinz brand Tomato soup for over 60 years and have tried many others but none come even close to the Heinz brand in taste. We use it for pasta sauces , sauces for breaded pork chops breaded veal cutlets and other stuff besides as soup now what.

Member

Heinz soup is vile, too much sugar