Here’s why Kirkland is Costco’s secret weapon!
- Costco’s Kirkland Signature brands, well-known for their high quality and low cost, brought in close to $60 billion in 2021, about 25% of Costco’s total revenue.
- Nationally known companies like Starbucks, Duracell, and Reynolds produce an exclusive version for Costco that meets its strict standards for quality and price point.
- Costco’s goal is to make Kirkland’s products “equal or better quality than national brands” while striving for comparative savings of at least 20%.
Kirkland Signature is the private label of Costco that brought in close to $60 billion in sales for the warehouse giant in 2021, about a quarter of its sales during its last fiscal year. Since its launch in 1995, Kirkland has expanded from 30 to 351 products. Named after the company’s original Washington State headquarters, Kirkland was created as an umbrella for Costco’s different private labels. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable brands in the U.S.
But who makes these products? While some are made exclusively for Costco and sold under the Kirkland Signature label, many of them are actually made by name-brand manufacturers who also produce their own branded versions of the same product. These companies will often agree to produce an exclusive version for Costco that meets its strict standards for quality and price point. The only difference? The distinct black, red, and white label and packaging and a lower price. In fact, prices are typically 20% lower than comparative brands, helping you stay on budget.
Makers of Kirkland Signature products
Here are some of the confirmed nationally recognized brands behind Costco’s Kirkland Signature products.
- Starbucks coffee: Several varieties of Kirkland Signature coffee are custom-roasted by Starbucks Coffee Company. In particular, they include the 2.5 pound Kirkland Signature Espresso Blend Coffee, Decaf House Blend Coffee, and Regular House Coffee. The price per pound for Kirkland’s Signature House Blend Coffee is $7.60. Costco also sells the 2.5 pound Starbucks French Roast Whole Bean Coffee at $10 per pound, so you’re saving quite a bit by buying the house brand.
- Diamond Naturals dog food: Kirkland Signature Dog Food is manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, also known as Schell and Kampeter, Inc. The 20 lb. Kirkland Signature Small Formula Chicken & Vegetable Dog Food comes in at $34.99 or $1.75 a pound. In comparison Diamond Naturals’ Small & Medium Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food goes for $2.00 a pound.
- Jelly Belly candy: Kirkland Signature Jelly Belly 64 oz. Variety Pack is $21.49, or $0.34 per ounce. In comparison, a 48 oz. container of Jelly Belly Assorted 50 Flavors Jelly Beans goes for $41.49, or $0.86 per ounce, more than double the cost of Costco’s label.
- Duracell batteries: In a 2016 interview with Atlanta station WSB-TV, Costco CEO Craig Jelinek revealed that Duracell is the manufacturer of Kirkland Signature Batteries. A 48-count package of Kirkland Signature AA Alkaline Batteries costs $16.49, or $0.34 per battery. Duracell AA batteries are sold on Costco’s website at $0.53 per battery.
- Chinet cups: Kirkland Signature Chinet 18 oz. Plastic Cups, Red, 240-count goes for $14.49, or $0.06 per cup. In comparison, a 36-count package of Chinet’s Crystal 14 oz. cups sells for $8.99, or $0.25 per cup.
- Bumble Bee tuna: Kirkland Signature’s Albacore Solid White Tuna is made by global seafood company Bumble Bee. Costco sells the 7 oz. 8-count for $19.99, or $0.36 per ounce, while the equivalent Bumble Bee product can cost as much as $0.49 per ounce.
- Huggies diapers: In a 2017 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Costco finance chief Richard Galanti confirmed that Huggies maker Kimberly-Clark is the manufacturer 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: New Zealand’s Reynolds name is proudly displayed on the Kirkland packaging. The price per square foot for Costco’s heavy-duty brand is $0.05, compared to Reynolds at $0.07.
High quality and low prices
There are dozens more Kirkland Signature products made by the top national brands. Here are just a few more of them:
- Green Mountain Coffee Keurig K-Cups
- Ocean Spray cranberry juice
- Perrigo infant formula
- Niagara bottled water
- Ito En green tea
- Kader Exports shrimp
- Alexander Murray scotch
- H.K. Anderson peanut butter–filled pretzel nuggets
- Warren motor oil
- Isigny Ste-Mère Brie
Many people assume that because it’s a house brand, Kirkland Signature is of lower quality than its name-brand competitors. In fact, many Kirkland products are just as good or even better than name brands in terms of quality and performance — but they cost significantly less. So next time you’re shopping at Costco, don’t forget to check out its house brands and see how much money you can save on your favorite products!
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