It’s no secret that Costco’s signature label, Kirkland, sells products manufactured by third parties for a better price, often up to 20% less. Members can usually see which company produced a product by reading the label, but not always.
There seems to be a bit of mystery and speculation surrounding some products' origins, and Costco closely guards their manufacturers’ identities. Though there are widespread rumors, some supplier information has come to light over the years and was confirmed by the giant warehouse club.
Vodka lovers who shop at Costco were excited to hear rumors that premium vodka manufacturer, Gray Goose, also made the store’s Kirkland Signature Label vodka. Alas, this theory has proven to be nothing more than a rumor. The good news is, in blind taste tests, the Kirkland Signature vodka has defeated Gray Goose several times; plus, it’s about a third of the cost.
Bottled water-lovers know that taste can differ greatly between brands. Take a closer look at the label on Kirkland Signature Purified Bottled Waters and you’ll likely recognize the bottler. Niagara Bottling is one of the largest water suppliers for private labels and well-known big box stores. If you’re a fan of the Niagara line of waters, chances are, you’ll taste no difference in those bottled with the Costco label.
Costco shoppers are likely familiar with the store’s rotisserie chicken, a three-pound roasted-to-a-golden-brown store favorite. Costco established its own chicken processing facility in Nebraska and created Lincoln Premium Poultry in 2016 to manage its new facility.
Unfortunately, Lincoln has come under fire since opening for both its negative environmental impact on the Omaha region and for animal cruelty due to the treatment of the chickens at the facility.
It’s a fact. In 2016, the CEO of Costco confirmed that Duracell is the manufacturer of Kirkland Signature Batteries. Buying the store’s signature version can save you some money, and in this case, you won’t be sacrificing quality for price. Consumer groups say a quality battery is crucial to the life of your electronics and word is, the Kirkland brand brings that. Some cheaper generic brands provide significantly less stored energy which leads to shorter battery life.
Costco pays another company to exclusively produce the Kirkland brand of pet food, but the company hasn’t publicly talked about who makes it for them. Sleuthing customers point out that the FDA issued a recall in 2012 for both Diamond Naturals and the Kirkland brand dog foods. Later, a legal suit named both companies in a lawsuit claiming pets became ill with Salmonella food poisoning after eating their pet foods. The lawsuit states the Kirkland brand was manufactured at Diamond Natural’s plant in South Carolina. In more recent years, some types of Kirkland dog foods have come under fire for improper labeling.
Persil has only been available in the U.S. since mid-2015 and a few years later in Canada, but it quickly developed a solid reputation and made the list of top-selling laundry detergents. Public forums soon debated theories about Costco’s Kirkland Signature Ultra-Clean laundry detergent’s manufacturer. Many ascertained it was made by the same company that makes Persil, the German consumer goods manufacturer, Henkle. However, neither company has verified these rumors to be true.
While the gasoline sold at Costco’s pumps isn’t from Mobil, it is a high-quality, top-tier standard gasoline, say fuel experts, and it passes governmental additive requirements in both the U.S. and Canada. Although gas prices fluctuate, Costco is generally able to keep its prices lower than other gas stations and guarantees the quality of its fuel.
The proof is on the packaging. One of the most recognized coffee brands in the world, Starbucks, custom roasts some — but not all — of Costco’s coffee flavors. No matter how serious your love of coffee is, this means you can save money without having to resign yourself to a lackluster, sub-par cup of joe. To enjoy the savings, look for Espresso Blend Dark Roast, House Blend Medium, and Decaf House Blend Medium packaged under the Kirkland Signature label.
Chocolate connoisseurs and candy fans alike have long touted the splendor of Costco’s private label milk chocolate. Costco reported back in 2013 that the company teamed up with the Blommer Chocolate Company to sustainably source cocoa from the Ivory Coast in West Africa to produce their much-loved confectionery. By taking this route, Costco ensures high-quality chocolate, but it’s also helping local workers receive fair wages and providing funds for local services, like education.
Parents know that quality is everything when it comes to a diaper. Some tried-and-true brands have earned their places among top-rated versions. A long-standing rumor is that Kimberly Clark, the maker of Huggies, manufactures Kirkland Signature diapers as well. According to a 2017 news interview, it’s true. Costco finally enticed Kimberly Clark to produce the Kirkland premium diaper. In exchange, Costco agreed to allow only one other branded diaper to be sold on its shelves: Huggies.
When it comes to generic or store brands, the quality can be lower, hence why you pay less for the product. Not so with most of the products sold under the Kirkland label. Their canned, white albacore tuna is a great example.
Unhappy with the overall quality of canned tuna brands on the market, Costco worked with Bumble Bee for a year to ensure that the tuna their customers purchased was more substantial, rather than flakier. The Kirkland Signature tuna is also significantly less expensive than other brands.
Believe the label. Ocean Spray produces Kirkland Signature Cranberry Juice. And, you'll enjoy hefty savings by opting for Costco's brand instead of picking it up at your local grocery store.
The Kirkland Signature juice provides 100% of the daily allowance of vitamin C, has no sugar added, and has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
The three-pound tub of Greek yogurt sold under the Kirkland Signature label is most likely produced by Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy, who also creates and supplies yogurts for other private labels.
The conclusion came about after an American businessman mentioned it in a book published in 2017. The Kirkland yogurt is certified USDA organic and is also Kosher.
The company behind the production of Kirkland Signature motor oil is the largest independent lubricant manufacturer in the U.S., Warren Oil, and the proof is on the label.
Warren produces and packages motor oil for several private label brands. According to several gearhead websites, the Kirkland brand of motor oil is "very good" when compared to big box generic brands, but you'll pay less for it at Costco.
Jelly Belly lovers can breathe a sigh of relief that the four-pound jar of gourmet jelly beans is indeed produced by the same company that makes Jelly Belly Gourmet jelly beans. The Kirkland version has 49 flavors, but you'll pay much less for them at Costco. Plus, every jar contains a color menu and recipe card, which makes them even more fun to eat.
More than a decade ago, the Humboldt company filed for bankruptcy and soon after, Crystal Creamery bought it. In 2016, the company was manufacturing vanilla ice cream for Costco that sold under the Kirkland Signature label and sold in the store along with its Humboldt product line.
But, over the last five years, the ice cream has frequently disappeared from the Costco shelves for extended periods, and it's not currently not listed on the store's website. We can only hope that this delicious, organic, and creamy delight finds its way back once again.
The label on these extra-strong cups does not lie. Chinet really does produce the popular 18-ounce, bright red Kirkland Signature cups. The Chinet company has been producing paper plates and cups since the 1930s. Costco no doubt liked the fact that Chinet has been working towards creating more sustainable products since the 1980s, and uses 80% recycled, compostable materials.
Brie has a smooth, mellow flavor with just a hint of nuttiness. Milder than Camembert, Brie is also lighter in texture. The Kirkland Signature Isigny French Brie is a product of the Cooperative Isigny Sainte-Mère, a well-known butter, cream, and cheese maker in France.
By purchasing the double-cream Costco brand, you'll get the same buttery flavor as you would if purchasing the name-brand, but it will make a much milder dent in your wallet.
If you crave the quality and flavor of gourmet foods but hesitate to dish out the extra bucks, Costco can often help you out. Buyers for the Costco company have confirmed that the Modena, Italy-based company, Acetum, also produces the Kirkland Signature version.
Costco chose Acetum because of its commitment to produce only authentic versions. Acetum ages its balsamic vinegar for a minimum of 60 days in wooden barrels and the company has earned an official certification for being produced in the Modena region.
At Costco, members can get free hearing tests. The store partnered with Sonova, an international company that has developed a range of hearing aids and other professional audiological care products, to bring top name brands for its members.
Sonova's brands include Phonak, Unitron, and Hansaton. The Kirkland Signature hearing aids offer Bluetooth functions and stereo-quality sound, plus they automatically adjust to your environment and provide universal connectivity. Costco's in-house brands have landed consistently in the top tier, ratings-wise.
Costco’s “ProCare” version of infant formula replaced the original formula they offered under the Kirkland Signature label. Enfamil was the original producer, but Perrigo, a leading supplier of store-brand nutritional products, now manufactures the Kirkland Signature ProCare Formula.
The FDA regulates all infant formulas sold in the U.S., so brand names and store brands must all meet the same standards for nutrition and quality. The only big difference is the price, with the Kirkland Signature formula costing much less than the premium brands.
It used to be that it took some sleuthing to find out who made the Kirkland Signature products, especially the wines. But these days, you can often find the producer, importer, and origin listed on the label. Although there are several excellent wines available at Costco, some have achieved higher ratings.
Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Red Blend is a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and a teensy bit of Cabernet Franc. Glenn Hugo, a winemaker at both Girard Napa and B.R. Cohn Winery, created the wine. DC Flynt MW Selections bottled it.
Kirkland Signature Brunello’s importer is Ethica Wines. A tag around the neck of the bottle shows that the maker is Gianni Maccari, a winemaker from the Ridolfi winery.