5 times you shouldn't buy the Kirkland brand at Costco

  • Costco and its house brand, Kirkland, are known for their high-quality, low-cost products.
  • But there are certain Kirkland Signature items that you might want to avoid throwing in your Costco shopping cart.
  • Here are five Kirkland brand items you should steer clear of on your next trip to Costco.

If you have a Costco membership or know someone who does, then you're familiar with the high-quality and value of many of Costco's products.

At Costco, you can generally find great prices on large quantities of name-brand merchandise, like Tide, Kellogg's, or Kraft products.

But if you're looking for even better deals on food and household items, you can choose from the variety of products offered by Costco's in-store brand, Kirkland Signature. Consumers often give Kirkland Signature products, from soup to bacon to nuts, high ratings for living up to Costco's mission for great quality at a lower cost than name brands.  

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5 things you should never buy at Costco
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5 things you should never buy at Costco

1. Kirkland Signature Solid White Albacore tuna 

If your concern for animals extends to the ocean, you may want to skip Costco's in-house solid white albacore canned tuna.

In 2017, the environmental organization Greenpeace ranked the product as one of the nine worst cans of tuna on a "shopping guide" for "sustainable, ethical, and fair" tuna brands. In its ranking, Greenpeace criticized Costco's tuna sourcing in part for failing to "address destructive fishing practices."

Alternatively, you can buy Wild Planet tuna at Costco, which Greenpeace found to be the most sustainably sourced brand.

2.  Kirkland Signature laundry detergents

Kirkland Signature offers several varieties of environmentally conscious laundry detergents, like the Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible Liquid Laundry Detergent, and the allergen-free Kirkland Signature Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent.

Despite the detergent's name, The Environmental Working Group has given Kirkland's "Environmentally Responsible" liquid laundry detergent an F-grade for environmental friendliness, citing risks of asthma, skin irritation, cancer, and harm to the environment.

Some customers on Consumer Reports also reported getting rashes after using Kirkland's Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent.

3.  Kirkland Signature Supreme Diapers 

If you're a new parent, buying diapers in bulk might sound like the way to go. But Kirkland's Signature Supreme Diapers may not be your most efficient option.

The smallest quantity of diapers that the Kirkland brand sells in size 1 for infants is 192 diapers. As the deals website Cheapism notes, your baby could outgrow these 192 diapers before you can use them up.

4. Kirkland Signature Light Beer

Kirkland vodka gets high ratings, even when compared to name-brand competitors, and Kirkland-branded wines have developed a loyal following. So, you might think that good Kirkland beer is a no-brainer.

However, when it comes to Kirkland Signature Light Beer, you'd be wrong, at least according to aggregated online reviews. Customer reviews on RateBeer complained about the light beer's taste, with one reviewer saying it smelled like "urine." RateBeer users gave the beer a score of 1.97 out of 5, while BeerAdvocate reviewers gave it a 2.5 out of 5.

Kirkland's light beer does have its fans, though, particularly because it costs less than $0.50 a can. One customer and superfan, Randy Colpek, even went viral on YouTube in 2017 with a homemade commercial for his drink of choice, Kirkland Signature Light Beer.

5. Anything you can't finish before it goes bad

The Kirkland brand has a lot of great products, but most come in supersize "bulk" containers. If you can't use an item up before it spoils, it may not be a valuable purchase, no matter its quality.

In addition to items that go bad quickly, like milk or cheese, use caution when you buy longer-lasting foods, such as oils, grains, and spices, which still do expire. For instance, Southern Livingrecommends using olive oil within 18 to 24 months to keep it from going rancid.

Grains, such as rice and quinoa, can go bad too, with time. TheWhole Grain Council advises that whole grains will last for six months on "a cool, dry pantry shelf" or "up to a year in the freezer."

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After examining new customer satisfaction for top retailers in the US, a 2017 retail report by ACSI placed Costco on top with a score of 83, leading all department and discount stores.

But no one is perfect, and even Costco has had a few stumbles with its signature brand.  

Here are five Kirkland brand products you may want to skip.

Plus, check out the Kirkland items you should never skip out on: 

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10 Kirkland items you should always buy at Costco
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10 Kirkland items you should always buy at Costco

Almonds

Health experts can’t stop raving about the benefits of nuts, but man, are they expensive—and Costco agrees. The warehouse store reportedly stopped selling other brands almost entirely when they couldn’t justify how high their prices had gotten. Now you can get a massive three-pound bag of Kirkland Signature almonds for just $13, which isn’t much more than you’d normally pay for a Blue Diamond bag almost half its size. Stock up on these other 15 foods nutritionists always buy at Costco.

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Bacon

When Consumer Reports put different bacon brands to the test several years ago, Kirkland Signature soared above the rest, thanks to its crispy texture and smoky-sweet flavor—which is even more impressive considering its low price. Make room in the freezer, because this bulk buy is no joke: Four pounds for $13.69. Plus, learn the secrets behind Costco’s famous $4.99 rotisserie chicken.

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Liquor

Across the board, Costco’s value-sized bottles of booze get rave reviews. Its vodka in particular has garnered a cult following, with rumors swirling that it shares the same water source as Grey Goose. The luxury vodka brand denies those claims, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing—the cheap Kirkland version actually outshines Grey Goose in taste tests. Just $25 for 1.75 liters of high-quality liquor? Can’t beat that.

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Maple syrup

In a Consumer Reports test, Kirkland’s pure maple syrup was the cheapest option ($0.75 per serving) and still managed to score stellar reviews. Testers deemed its taste “very good,” while the priciest choice in its category, Camp Pure Maple Syrup—which costs almost three times more per ounce—was only rated “good.” Learn more Costco secrets revealed by a former employee.

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Pistachios

No matter how tasty they are, it can be hard to justify the price of pistachios—unless you’re at Costco. At face value, a $15 bag seems like a lot, but you’ll change your mind when you see the three-pound package you get. For comparison, a two-pound bag of Wonderful pistachios costs $13 on Amazon. Really, you can’t go wrong with any Kirkland nuts, so stock up on walnuts and mixed nuts too.

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Plastic wrap

Kirkland’s food wrap gets high marks for its durability, so the low price is just the icing on the cake. Paying less than $10 for two 750-square-foot rolls, you won’t need to stock up on plastic wrap again for a long time. You should also always stock up if you see this symbol on a Costco price tag.

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Quinoa

With more protein and fiber than white rice, quinoa has unsurprisingly gone from food fad to kitchen staple. Unfortunately, that hasn’t convinced most companies to lower their prices. At Target, you’ll get three pounds for $12 (not bad), but Costco offers 4.5 pounds for $9. It’s still not as cheap as rice, but it’s definitely a healthier option.

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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A 2010 report found that most EVOO on U.S. store shelves wasn’t extra virgin like their labels claimed. One notable exception: Kirkland’s organic version. So not only are you paying less per serving than you would at the supermarket, but you can guarantee good quality. How’s that for a solid deal?

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Cheese

If you think everything tastes better when covered in cheese, Costco is the place to be. From goat cheese and Brie to Parmesan and Pecorino Romano, its cheeses are cheesemonger-quality with warehouse prices. The value-sized hunks of cheese might be excessive for a dinner for two, but Kirkland should be your go-to if you’re planning a party. Just steer clear of these things you should never buy at Costco.

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Baby formula

When you have an infant in tow, the last thing you want to worry about is overpriced baby formula. The FDA has strict nutrition requirements for baby formula, and Costco’s version is no exception. The non-GMO Kirkland baby formula’s ingredient list is nearly identical to Similac Advance’s, but it costs about half as much per ounce. Make sure you know these 15 secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

[Source for most prices: thriftynorthwestmom.com]

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