This is my first input of this series – comparing the composition and perhaps quality of at least two comparable products on the market. This will make you see that things are not always what they look like and what the adverts want you to see or think about the product they are trying to sell to you.
I have got this idea when I was doing a small shopping at Morrisons. There I stood in front of the shelves with various sizes and styles of package of mayonnaise and I tried to decide which one I should pick. I was determined to get a value but not to buy an absolute rubbish. For years I have been aware that the well known brands may not always be trusted in terms of quality and that the supermarket own brand often offer better value for a better quality product.
I rarely use mayonnaise and when I use some I generally go for a leaner option. But I do not like the extremes so the really really low-fat item remained on the shelf and I only looked at the ingredients – which actually made me to leave it there. See for yourself what made me to stay away from this product:
Water, sugar, starch and unknown amount of oil. The same volume (450 ml) of the product based on water, sugar and starch was sold for the for the same price (£1) as the less extreme product (as you will see later), which is almost based on oil which the mayonnaise really should be (without the almost part). The color – titanium dioxide also put me off. Interestingly, this product does contain mustard, whereas the Light product, which I finally bought, does not.
OK, here is the main point of this article – comparison of two comparable products. One carries the name of famous brand Hellman’s on it, the other is the supermarket own product, currently sold for half of the branded price.
Note: The grey highlights indicate the ingredients by which these two products differ. Arrows indicate the mutually different position of some ingredients.
- Hellman’s has 1% more oil but does not contain sugar.
- Hellman’s has the egg as the fifth ingredient – behind salt but it is not known whether wet or dried egg yolk was used. I suspect that Hellman’s used dried egg yolk but I am not sure.
- The salt content is 5% of GDA in Morrisons and 4% in Hellman’s, so even if the Hellman’s used the salt earlier in the list of ingredients, in absolute amounts there is less salt in it.
- Preservative potassium sorbate is probably in higher amount in Hellman’s than in cheaper Morrisons.
- None of them contains the colorant titanium dioxide (phew).
- Hellman’s has vinegar in higher amount, but Morrisons may have substituted it partly by the tartaric acid, which is a natural compound. The acid maybe partly substituted also the mustard flavor present in Hellman’s product but lacking in the Morrisons product.
- Overall, all the ingredients following the egg in the Hellman’s product were used in amounts equal to 1.5% or lower.
- Morrisons product is less transparent in the amount of ingredients but contains 1 less of the non-essential ingredients for this kind of product (the second lacking ingredient was the mustard).
I use mayonnaise only rarely so I do not mind if I have paid half price for this light ‘Lego’ since the branded and supermarket own products do not vary that much in content. By buying the branded product you only subsidy the annoying adverts of Hellman’s in all media around (when there is the advertising campaign going on) and maybe it tastes better to you because of some secret Flavorings in it.
I do not know why the Hellman’s product contains powdered cream – do you? I remember a discussion with one lady who thought that mayonnaise contains milk or cream (perhaps assuming from the white color and rich cream-like texture), saying she could not eat it because of the dairy content. I assured her that mayonnaise does not contain any dairy. Well, I was wrong – at least regarding the Hellman’s product.
Make your own
I did not attempt to make my own and I have had several reasons for it, including:
- I want to keep the calorie content relatively low,
- I do not use mayonnaise too often,
- I hate wasting food or ingredients as such.
If I was going to make my own mayonnaise, I firstly would have to think about how to dilute the calories – mostly by starch – as the light versions above have it. Secondly, I would either have to carefully calculate the ingredients and probably waste some, or, if I have made too much of it, it would go wasted anyway because I do not have the suitable technology for preserving the surplus. And, if I have managed all of this, I would end up with a similar Lego to those two above. That is why the factory-made mayonnaise contain preservatives and antioxidants – to give the products a long-shelf life. This serves the purpose of protecting the customers’ health and to save money on both sides: the customers and the company who is selling the product.
There is also a fourth reason why I have chosen this particular product (Morrisons Light) in the squeezable tube instead of the jar. The mold spores always present in the air around us have a higher chance to spoil the stored product if you scoop it from an open jar than when you squeeze it from the tub via a narrow hole. And, as I said, I do not often use the mayonnaise so I better make sure it will last longer in the fridge than if other forms of packages were used. I once bought a small glass jar of ordinary mayonnaise and it took me several weeks to use it up. Every time I went to take a bit I did so being ready that I will find it moldy and I will have to throw it away.
I have based this article on the Morrisons products, but I guess you could find similar composition of light mayonnaise in own products of other supermarkets.
That is it. I hope you enjoyed this article and I welcome your comments below.