When Costco customers see the red and black Kirkland Signature label, they know they’re going to get a good product at a great price. But they don’t always know who’s making it.
Store brand products like Kirkland are typically manufactured by third parties, not the store itself — and they've been steadily rising in both quality and consumer demand, according to Harvard Business Review.
They tend to be cheaper than their name brand counterparts, however in some cases, their behind-the-scenes suppliers may actually be famous retail titans themselves.
While plenty of the names behind Kirkland Signature products are public knowledge — some are printed right on the box — others remain a closely guarded secret. More than a few rumors have popped up from people claiming to be in the know.
We've done some sleuthing through Reddit threads, news reports, recalls and issues of the store magazine Costco Connection to verify the claims. From Costco coffee to hearing aids, there are plenty of Kirkland Signature products that boast of big brand origins.
Here are the names we can confirm and the myths we can debunk, assuming no recent supplier swaps:
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44. Starbucks coffee
Even coffee snobs may be intrigued by a few of Costco’s relatively inexpensive house blends, which boast of their ties to the world’s largest coffeehouse chain.
Kirkland offers certain varieties of their house blend with the stamp, “Custom roasted by Starbucks.”
The two-and-a-half-pound Starbucks-affiliated bags include Kirkland’s Signature House Blend Medium Roast, Espresso Blend Dark Roast and Decaf House Blend Medium Roast.
“This coffee has a great flavor and isn't too acidic. It's very mild and does taste like the Starbucks house blend. Surprisingly, we do use this bag up in about two weeks! It's a great price at Costco and always [has] very fresh and oily beans. I recommend this coffee to Starbucks lovers who are looking for a smooth cup of coffee!” writes one reviewer on influenster.com regarding the House Blend.
According to reporting done by Mashed, the relationship between Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Costco CEO Jim Sinegal has historically been pretty friendly — except for one time when Schultz did not want to lower their bean prices.
Sinegal, in retaliation, asserted that he was “the price police.” Schultz eventually capitulated and the coffee remained on Costco shelves.
43. Grey Goose vodka
Plenty of people will tell you with confidence that Costco’s vodka is a duplicate of Bacardi’s Grey Goose, produced in France. And the now-defunct alcohol research site Under the Label reported that both vodkas are made using water from the Gensac Springs in the Cognac region.
However, the global ambassador for Grey Goose denied the rumor in an interview with Business Insider, and Costco representatives have never commented.
Don’t be too disappointed, though. Kirkland Signature Vodka has trounced the expensive name brand in multiple blind taste tests despite being a fraction of the price.
On Tastings.com, Kirkland Signature’s flavor is characterized as having hints of bitter chocolate, a citrusy aroma and a tingling smoothness — but on their own website, Grey Goose only says that their vodka is made from “the finest French wheat.”
An Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau registry shows LeVecke, one of the world’s largest producers of spirits (including Island 808 and Pau Maui vodkas), applied to supply vodka under the Kirkland label, though it's unclear if that's the full story.
42. Townsend Farms three berry blend
You can save a bit of money by buying your fruit frozen instead of fresh, but you'll also find more affordable prices with the private Kirkland Signature label instead of opting for a name-brand product.
The Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend is produced by Townsend Farms — a wholesaler of both fresh and frozen berry products, based in the Pacific Northwest. The business started as a family farm in 1906. Its frozen products are distributed under both private and branded labels.
Costco sells Townsend Farms berries in a four-pound, resealable bag, which is perfect for summer smoothie and home-made ice cream season.
The FDA issued a public health alert concerning the mixed fruit product in 2019 for concerns over a possible hepatitis A virus contamination, outing Townsend Farms as the supplier behind Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend and Kroger’s frozen blackberry products.
Costco also sells Townsend Farms’ Berry Supreme with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries.
41. Palermo’s frozen pizza
It’s possible that this family-owned pizza brand still produces pies for Kirkland Signature, but neither company has commented on the connection.
United Steelworkers reported in a 2012 press release that members of the Palermo Workers Union would be visiting Costco Wholesale headquarters — since the warehouse club was the largest retailer of Palermo products in the country at the time.
Costco was known for carrying affiliated pizza products, including the Kirkland Signature Frozen Pizza.
However, the warehouse no longer seems to carry the Palermo brand and the packaging of its current Kirkland brand frozen pizza looks a little different compared to the older version.
The taste has potentially changed, too. Food review site Costcuisine mentioned in late 2021 that while Kirkland’s frozen pepperoni pizza wasn’t “bad” for a frozen pizza, it didn’t have a ton of cheese nor a ton of sauce.
A serving of Kirkland’s frozen pep pizza — about one third of the whole pie — is 470 calories and 1080 milligrams of sodium.
40. Ito En green tea
We’re spilling the (green) tea on the manufacturer behind yet another Kirkland Signature product — although the name is pretty evident from just the packaging.
Costco offers a co-branded Kirkland Signature and Ito En 100-count box of green tea bags, which feature a blend of sencha and matcha.
Ito En, a Japanese multinational drinks company, offers a lineup of tea products under its own brand names — Oi Ocha, matcha LOVE and Tea’s Tea Organic — including bottled teas, loose leaf, tea bags and teaware gift sets.
You can also find some matcha LOVE stores in the U.S.
Reviews on Amazon.com are pretty positive, with one customer writing, “The caffeine punch seems much more slowly released, rather than something from a strong gunpowder for example … The taste gets stronger but never bitter, and tastes just as good whether freshly hot or at room temperature after being steeped for hours. Tastes great without any added sweetener. It's a hearty cuppa.”
Ito En tea is prepared in the traditional Japanese way, according to their Amazon site, in which the tea leaves are steamed, rolled and then dried. This minimal processing allegedly stops the tea from oxidizing too quickly and preserves taste and flavor.
39. Kader Exports shrimp
The next time you check out the frozen seafood aisle at Costco, consider going private label instead of big brand — you might still be scoring high-quality goods for a lower price.
A 2020 recall over salmonella contamination concerns revealed that Mumbai-based marine products manufacturer Kader Exports was the supplier behind Kirkland Signature cooked, peeled and deveined tail-on and tail-off shrimp.
According to the FDA notice, Kader Exports was also responsible for supplying shrimp to brands like Aqua Star Reserve, CenSea and Unistar.
Costco food and products review site Costcuisine posted a review of the tail-on cooked shrimp in 2020.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh, plump, flavorful and tasty the Costco Kirkland Signature Tail-On Cooked Shrimp are! I sautéed them in a bit of butter and they tasted great! You could definitely eat these defrosted, plain with some seafood sauce or you can add them to pasta, salads or other dishes.”
According to the nutritional information for Kirkland’s “tail on” shrimp, a four-ounce serving has 20 grams of protein, which is equivalent to 40% of your recommended daily intake.
38. Duracell batteries
Many buyers avoid store-brand batteries for fear they’ll drain faster than the ones produced by the big-name brands. You won’t know until your device drops dead at the most inconvenient time.
Thankfully, Costco’s generic batteries are made by a company that’s “Trusted Everywhere.”
Costco CEO Craig Jelinek revealed that Duracell is the manufacturer of Kirkland Signature Batteries in an interview with Atlanta station WSB-TV in 2016.
They’re a pretty good deal, too. A 48-pack of AA batteries costs $13.99 on the Costco website, while you’ll cough up the same for a 40-pack of the Duracell brand.
The global leader in alkaline batteries, specialty cells and rechargeables with its iconic pink bunny mascot (yes, like rival Energizer) has been around since the early 1940s.
In a video review, Consumer Reports noted that Duracell’s alkaline batteries outperformed pretty much every other battery on the market, which corroborated other online reviews.
37. Lululemon leggings
Could Costco’s private-label leggings come from one of the hottest yoga wear brands in the country? Some seem to think so.
TikTok creator @ashiemari made a video in 2020 alleging that Kirkland Signature’s $17 leggings were made by Lululemon.
Business development and marketing consultant Dorian Smith-Garcia told entertainment magazine Parade in 2021, “I wouldn’t be surprised by this at all.”
She added, “I wouldn’t expect any established brand to admit that they’re creating private-label goods for a big box or discount retailer, but it’s an incredibly common practice … private label projects are a great option for brands looking to reinforce their earnings.”
However, neither company has commented on the possible connection, and it looks like the Kirkland Signature leggings are no longer available on the store’s website in either the U.S. or Canada.
The bulk store may be banking on customers being used to their habit of rotating products off the shelves and then bringing them back if demand persists. For now, they’re gone — hopefully not for good.
36. Gordon Biersch beer
Depending on where you live, your Costco’s Kirkland craft beers could originate from one of two places. The Takeout claims that Kirkland beers on the East Coast come from Matt Brewing in New York and that beers in the West link to Gordon Biersch.
The publication says West Coast Kirkland beer bears the name “Hopfen Und Malz Brewing Co.” on the label. The site Mashed adds that the address of Hopfen Und Malz matches that of Gordon Biersch in San Jose, California.
Meanwhile, Mashed says, beer on the East Coast bears the name Bricks and Barley Brewing Company from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. It’s unclear whether this company is related to Matt Brewing, which makes Saranac and Utica Club.
The regional divide remains unconfirmed, but an Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau registry shows both Gordon Biersch and Matt Brewing have applied for labels under the Kirkland brand. Wisconsin’s Regal Brau also makes an appearance.
In a 2018 article inspired by the retirement of Kirkland’s light beer, The Takeout reviewed Kirkland’s craft beer variety pack. The reviewer considered the four aspects of a typical brew review, including aroma, flavor, appearance and body.
According to the review, the IPA and pale ale are worth recommending, while the malt-forward brews leave a little to be desired.
35. Pureology moisture hair care
Rumor has it that those affordable sets of cream-and-purple Kirkland Signature Moisture hair care bottles have high-end origins.
On Reddit and around the web, you’ll find a lot of speculation that L’Oréal’s Pureology division could be behind Costco’s shampoo and conditioner. However, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence.
The bottles look pretty similar, and some reviewers online suggest Kirkland’s product is a fine replacement for the Pureology version. Take from that what you will.
The Kirkland Signature Moisture hair care bottles are advertised as sulfate, paraben and gluten free and 100% vegan.
On their website, Costco describes their Kirkland shampoo as being made with a mixture of rainforest botanicals, argon and avocado oils, and says it’s also safe for use on color treated hair. These ingredients are not the same as what Pureology lists for their comparable product, which uses scents like lavender and emollients such as jojoba oil.
“I have both real Pureology and this KS shampoo in my bathroom. The ingredients are different and they smell very different. However, the KS moisturizes very much like the Pureology. But the KS leaves my hair awfully greasy looking. Maybe made in the same factory but different formulas?” writes Redditor Shuhshine.
34. Keurig Green Mountain K-Cups
Look no further than Keurig — yes, the popular brand behind coffee makers and pods — for your morning brew. The seal is right on the box.
Costco made a deal with Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. in 2012 to produce the Kirkland Signature K-Cups, which currently come in a light roast Breakfast Blend, a dark roast, Pacific Bold and medium roasts House Decaf and Summit Roast.
"We believe Kirkland Signature K-Cup packs provide an incremental opportunity that complements our broad portfolio of coffee and beverage brands and creates more options for value-oriented consumers," said T.J. Whalen, former VP of marketing and sales at Green Mountain.
The announcement sent Green Mountain shares up by 9%, reported Reuters at the time.
The website listing for their Pacific Bold dark roast says that this blend is the perfect mix of smoky and sweet flavors, and is perfect for joe-lovers who appreciate their cup with a bit of attitude.
Multiple sources confirm that different roasts, bean for bean, usually contain around the same amount of caffeine. According to Healthline, the reason dark roast coffee tastes stronger is that it was roasted at a higher temperature than its light and medium roast counterparts.
33. Alexander Murray scotch
While other theories regarding Kirkland Signature’s alcohol selection have either been debunked or unconfirmed, Costco’s scotch is definitely a product of independent bottler Alexander Murray.
In a 2016 interview with Market Watch Magazine, Alexander Murray president and CEO Stephen Lipp confirmed that the company supplies its scotch to Costco.
The magazine says the independent bottler has been behind the Kirkland Signature house brand since 2007 and Costco sells an estimated 100,000 cases or more of its blended scotch each year.
If you take a closer look at the Kirkland Signature Blended House Whiskey or Single Malt Scotch, you’ll also notice the Alexander Murray & Co. Ltd. label on the bottles.
According to the Alexander Murray website, they prefer to use the spring harvest wheat for their whisky, which is the most popular among scotch-makers.
Reviews of the independent bottler’s single malt often convey disinterest, but interestingly, Kirkland Signature’s malts are consistently rated well.
32. Jelly Belly candy
It’s in the name.
Kirkland openly teamed up with candy company Jelly Belly to sell their signature “gourmet” jelly beans. At Costco you can get four-pound jars of sugary goodness featuring 49 different flavors that are kosher and fat free.
Assuming an equal distribution of beans, that means you’ll be able to enjoy a full 1.3 ounces of your favorite flavor in every jar.
The product features a color menu and recipe card, so you know what to expect when you pop one of the brightly colored candies in your mouth. You can enjoy anything from coconut and green apple to fancier flavors like Krispy Kreme glazed blueberry cake and Tutti Frutti.
You can even check out the combinations they recommend to make flavors like root beer floats!
Even though the Jelly Belly company has been around for over 120 years and, according to Mental Floss, has been making “interesting” flavors since 1976, reviewers can often be confused by the flavors they get.
This review on Amazon takes the metaphorical jelly bean cake: “Instead of the regular flavors you know and love, expect to eat your way through four pounds of champagne, Krispy Kreme, maple syrup and 7UP flavored beans.”
31. Kev & Cooper children’s multivitamin gummies
Costco sells its own store brand of children’s multivitamin gummies in orange, cherry and green apple flavors, providing over 10 essential vitamins and minerals — according to the store website.
The gummies come in 160-count bottles in packs of two or four, so you can stock up on the stuff if necessary.
If you check out the listing for the multivitamin gummies on the Amazon.com site, you’ll notice Kev & Cooper LLC is named as the manufacturer. That said, neither company has officially confirmed the connection.
Kev & Cooper brands include KC Cubs, which produces education and playtime rugs for kids, soap, cologne and hair care product brand Duru and Evy Baby, which sells diapers and wet wipes.
Fun fact: if you are an adult who wants a gummy vitamin, there are recommendations on the bottle for how much of the children’s strength an adult should take so you, too, can get your daily intake in delicious, gummy form.
30. H.K. Anderson peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets
H.K. Anderson collaborated with Costco on its Kirkland Signature Valencia peanut butter-filled pretzels — however, this iteration no longer seems to be available on the Costco website.
Costco currently sells a similar looking product, but without the H.K. Anderson labeling — however, you might be able to find the original at Walmart or Amazon.
One reviewer on the Amazon.com site says to be wary, however.
“The order is a scam. We ordered these since it said HK Anderson on the label, which are quite flavorful and we know well … The product arrived with a different label without the HK Anderson label. There was a little sticker on [the] back. The taste and quality were significantly inferior to the true H K ANDERSON. If I wanted these, I could have gone to Costco for 1/2 the price.”
The serving size is also unfairly small: The pretzels are each only about the size of a slightly hefty postage stamp, but eight of them make up a serving.
H.K. Anderson is currently owned by American snack giant Utz Brands.
29. Ehrmann yogurt
Yogurt giant Ehrmann, of dairy delights such as Yoginos and LACTO Zero, could also be the brand behind Kirkland Signature Greek Yogurt.
In his 2017 book Disciplined Growth Strategies, American businessman Peter Cohan says that Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy supplied Greek yogurt under private labels to a number of retailers, including Costco.
Ehrmann is one of the largest dairy companies in Germany and also produces Greek yogurt under the Green Mountain Creamery and Liebe brands.
With interesting flavor selections like stracciatella, peach and passion fruit and chocolate hazelnut, Ehrmann concentrates on making a small selection of gourmet dairy products.
Their milk is sourced from cows from small farms, and as a family-run, medium-sized business, they take their commitment to local economy and sustainability efforts very seriously.
28. Perrigo infant formula
While Kirkland Signature’s Infant Formula was once a product of Abbott Laboratories — the makers of Similac — it seems the brand has converted to Perrigo.
A USDA report to Congress on baby formula prices and availability says Abbott Laboratories began producing infant formula for Costco under the storebrand label in 2001.
However, veteran parents have noticed the yellow box of Kirkland’s Signature Infant Formula has since been replaced by a blue box bearing the name Kirkland Pro-Care Infant Formula.
Perrigo’s StoreBrandFormula.com, which catalogs the company’s retail relationships, includes Costco on its list of partners and links directly to the Kirkland Signature Pro-Care Infant Formula on Costco’s website.
Costco typically sells a dual pack of Kirkland’s non-GMO formula, which is both certified halal and kosher. Perrigo’s website offers a few more varieties.
Reviews by parents of the Kirkland Signature baby formula on Influenster.com say across the board that their babies enjoyed the taste of the formula, that there was little to no stomach upset, and that the price was more desirable.
27. Reynolds aluminum foil
Costco partnered with New Zealand-based Reynolds of aluminum foil fame to produce its Kirkland Signature Foodservice Foil.
The proof is on the packaging, with the Reynolds logo proudly displayed on the shiny blue boxes.
Costco says the foil is highly durable and made for use in commercial kitchens, restaurants, catering businesses, school cafeterias and small businesses. You can use it to line pans for the oven or to store food in the fridge or freezer.
It gives you 1,000 square feet total of foil, which is potentially more than you ever dreamed or bargained for.
Be careful of your fingers though, as the box comes with an integrated foil cutter that allows you to measure and cut every piece according to your need.
The Kirkland foils come in larger sizes than the regular Reynolds foils on Costco’s website, and their higher prices reflect the difference.
26. Chinet cups
A staple at house parties, Costco’s giant packs of disposable red cups come from a familiar place.
The packaging clearly bears the blue Chinet logo under “Kirkland Signature” and next to the bold title “The Big Red Cup.”
The cups come in packs of 240 and are advertised as extra strong and premium heavyweight plastic — so you should be good to go for your next big birthday bash. Considering that the pack costs $13.99, that works out to about six cents a cup. These cups hold 18 ounces of liquid.
The American company Chinet has produced disposable tableware such as plates, bowls and cutlery for over 90 years and sells them through other big retailers like Target.
Reviews of the cups on Influenster rave about their durability and sturdiness. One person writes that a pack from Costco lasts her a few years of birthday parties and celebrations.
25. Sonova hearing aids
If you get your hearing tested at Costco — which is completely free of charge — you might be advised to pick up a set of these.
The sleek Kirkland Signature (KS9) 9.0 Digital Hearing Instruments come in five different colors and use special wireless tech powered by Sonova, according to a hearing health and audiology magazine.
The Hearing Review reported in 2019 that Sonova confirmed it was contracted to supply its products to Costco under its flagship brand. Sure enough, Sonova is listed as the manufacturer at the end of the owner’s manual.
The new KS10, which was released in 2021, comes in bronze, stone, silver, beige and black colors and includes a portable charger. Its user manual also names Sonova as the manufacturer.
Designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, you can also get a custom ear mold for an extra cost. The price for the non-custom product includes two hearing aids and one charger.
You can connect immediately to the device of your choice — music or TV — and its smart technology automatically adjusts to the changing volume levels of each new environment.
24. Niagara bottled water
Water does taste different depending on the brand, though Kirkland Signature water will probably taste identical to other private labels out there.
Family-owned Niagara Bottling, which calls itself "the industry leading private label bottled water supplier in the Western United States," is behind Kirkland Signature Purified Water, according to its very own label.
Costco says minerals are added to the water “for a pure, refreshing taste” and it is bottled using “state-of-the-art purification, filtration and reverse osmosis technologies.”
Niagara Bottling also sells water from spring to sparkling under its own brands Niagara, H2O+ and V-ssentials, teas under its Tea Joy label and protein nutrition shakes.
As a business, they have committed to the sustainability initiatives set out by the U.N., and have implemented several water saving initiatives including a water recovery system, high efficient plumbing in their offices and special cooling operations that save over 4 million gallons of water every year.
23. George Dickel bourbon
Kirkland Signature’s bourbon may have a new supplier following a supposed switch.
An Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau registry points to the famous Jim Beam as the producer behind Kirkland Signature’s Kentucky bourbon. At least, that was the case a decade ago.
According to some reports, the Kirkland bourbon “distilled and bottled by the Commonwealth of Kentucky” has vanished and been replaced by “Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey” on store shelves.
According to Punch — an online wine, spirits and beer magazine — distillery George Dickel is the best bet for the current supplier of the new whiskey.
The flavor notes of the George Dickel whisky — which uses the traditional Scottish spelling of “whisky” in its personal marketing — say its eight-year variety starts off with vanilla, has cherry and orange overtones, and finishes with almond toffee and oak.
It’s 90 proof and they recommend serving it straight, on the rocks or in a bourbon-forward cocktail, like an old fashioned.
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22. Warren motor oil
Warren Oil Company is speculated to be the manufacturer behind Walmart’s Super Tech and Amazon’s AmazonBasics motor oils, but we can confirm it supplies the Kirkland variety.
Kirkland Signature Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 and Heavy Duty Diesel 15W-40 Motor Oil display their makers in fine print on the back of the jug: “Manufactured by Warren Distribution, Inc.”
The heavy-duty stuff comes in three-packs of one-gallon bottles and promises increased wear protection, better oxidation control and a highly shear stable formulation. The Full Synthetic product sells as 12 one-quart bottles and says it’s for advanced wear protection, extended engine life and controls thermal breakdown.
Warren, which claims to be one of North America’s largest independent lubricant manufacturers, markets its products around the world under several brands, such as MAG 1, and under private labels as well.
Commenters on a Reddit thread say that it has both Dexos and API certification, which individually guarantee quality markers like amount of emissions — and the oil allegedly remains usable for several months after being opened.
21. E&J Gallo wines
While other grocery stores might offer more varieties of wine, Costco doubles down on quality and price. Its Kirkland Signature wines are the product of cut-rate contracts with established wine makers and importers.
An Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau registry links Kirkland Signature’s California wines to E&J Gallo Winery and its Italian wines to Ethica Wines. The bureau regulates and collects taxes on alcohol, tobacco and firearm trading within the U.S.
E&J Gallo Winery produces its own vino but also distributes products from other California wineries to countries around the world. (Think Carnivor or Naked Grape.) It's unclear whether it has a hand in actually making Kirkland wine or is just a middleman. Meanwhile, Ethica Wines specializes in importing Italian wines like Borgogno and Bellavista.
More digging within the tax and trade bureau’s registry reveals Kirkland French reds are connected to Misa Imports, while listings for port, sherry, cooking and dessert wines are linked to Kobrand’s Joto Sake. One Kirkland white wine was linked to famous director Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, and a California red was affiliated with Grove Street Winery.
20. Bumble Bee tuna
Next time you’re hankering for some white albacore, don’t worry about sacrificing quality for cost.
In a 2003 interview with Money magazine, Costco executive vice-president Tim Rose argued that the canned tuna available on the market had declined in quality for years.
So Costco struck a deal with global seafood company Bumble Bee to make a meatier product, just “like it used to be.”
The new “superior quality” solid white albacore hit shelves in 2002. The magazine also notes that the Kirkland tuna surprisingly cost more — at 99 cents a can in an eight-pack — compared to the branded version, which retailed for 90 cents a can in a 10-pack at the time.
The seven-ounce cans of albacore tuna that Costco sells in packs of eight is certified dolphin safe, certified kosher by Parve, and promises complete traceability from sea to shelf.
In a serving-size of two drained ounces, Kirkland’s canned albacore has low amounts of sodium and cholesterol, and contains 16% of your daily recommended intake of protein.
19. Acetum balsamic vinegar
You don’t need to look hard to source this one. Kirkland Signature Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena boasts of its 100-year-old manufacturer on the bottle.
Costco partnered with Modena-based company Acetum all the way back in 1999 to produce its balsamic vinegar, according to The Costco Connection.
Cassidy K.V. left a glowing review of the balsamic vinegar on Amazon.com. “This is what balsamic vinegar should taste like; rich, tart, and with a teasing sweetness just around the corner. Your roasted tomatoes will never be the same; your fresh salads will rejoice. You'll be putting just a splash of this in all sorts of places, with tremendous results.”
Like the name “Parmigiano Reggiano” for cheese, “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena” is a protected title that can only be applied to products that fit certain geographical and processing standards.
According to Acetum’s website, they are considered the number one producer of Balsamic Vinegar PGI, and are experts of specialty vinegars.
18. Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia Tequila
This one’s all about the numbers. According to Forbes, all tequilas have an identifying number, or NOM, that can be used to track where they came from.
The site Thrillist once reported that Kirkland Signature Añejo Tequila came from the same source as Ed Hardy Tequila. Costco also once used La Madrileña in Tototlán in the Jalisco Highlands — and you may still come across some bottles at the warehouse that bear the same NOM (1142).
A review of the anejo variety by Costcuisine calls the oak-aged agave a fine sipping liquor, which can be consumed “straight” — meaning it’s more premium than bar-rail — or mixed into the cocktail of your choice. It also has notes of caramel, brown sugar and vanilla.
Currently, the Kirkland Signature Tequilas come from the Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia, SA de CV, says Forbes. If you check the Tequila Matchmaker site, you’ll discover that the KS products can be pinpointed to the distillery with the NOM 1173.
The Tesistán-based distillery also produces tequila under its own brands, like Destilador and Especial Newton.
17. Kimberly-Clark diapers
Kirkland Signature Diapers are made by Kimberly-Clark, the same manufacturer responsible for trusted nappies such as Huggies and GoodNites.
Costco finance chief Richard Galanti confirmed the connection in a 2017 interview with the Wall Street Journal. Costco had asked both Kimberly-Clark and rival corporation Procter & Gamble to produce diapers under the Kirkland brand, however only the former agreed.
Parents will notice that the only name-brand diapers sold at Costco are Kimberly-Clark’s Huggies. Procter & Gamble’s Pampers are nowhere in sight.
A 2000 Wall Street Journal article also reported that the arrangement helped the two companies manage inventory and cut down on costs.
"If a company finds a way to lower its costs, it gets those deals," said Richard Dicerchio, former chief operating officer at Costco.
The Kirkland diapers come in sizes 1-6, are made with 20% plant materials and offer a wetness indicator. Their average total customer rating is about 4.7 out of five.
16. Henkel laundry detergent
Although neither company has confirmed the connection, German company Henkel is speculated to be the brand behind Kirkland Signature detergent.
In 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Huish, “the largest manufacturer of private-label laundry detergents and fabric softeners in North America,” would merge with Unilever’s laundry detergent division. Huish, it said, also made products for Costco.
The merger formed Sun Products, which is now a leading laundry care brand known for products such as Snuggle, All and Sun. Then in 2016, Henkel acquired Sun Products. Henkel itself produces popular laundry detergent brands, like Persil.
Following this long and confusing history, it seems likely that Kirkland Signature laundry detergents are now produced by Henkel. Reviewers certainly think so.
The product arm of The New York Times, Wirecutter, compared a few of the top laundry detergents to determine which was the most effective.
While the definite Herkel product, Persil, came in second overall, Kirkland’s third-place detergent was tops in terms of stain removal and odor elimination. It was also dubbed the best budget pick.
15. Hormel bacon
Customers went hog wild for a co-branded Kirkland Signature and Hormel bacon product, which Costco rolled out in 2004, according to Supermarket News.
The bacon was reportedly sliced a bit thicker, compared to the usual Hormel bacon, and came in a one-pound package for $8.99. The item is no longer listed on Costco’s American website — although you may still be able to grab it at Canadian locations.
You can still find a Kirkland Signature hickory-smoked bacon at American warehouses, but some customers claim it doesn’t match up to the Hormel co-branded version.
“The new bacon is horrible! The edges get hard as hell when cooked just a bit too much!” writes Artistic_Mention_372 on Reddit. However, medhat20005 claims the private-label bacon might still be supplied by Hormel.
Supermarket News reported back in 2005 that Hormel was Costco’s bacon supplier at the time, but it’s unclear whether the new Kirkland Signature product comes from Hormel as well.
14. Bolthouse Farms carrot juice
If you prefer to drink your veggies, you might already know this one. Kirkland Signature co-branded with Bolthouse Farms to turn out their three-pack bottles of carrot juice.
Kirkland Signature by Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice is made from organic carrots that get harvested, peeled and juiced all within 24 hours, says a 2009 issue of The Costco Connection.
The product is no longer available on the Costco website, however, so it’s possible it has been discontinued. The site doesn’t seem to offer carrot juice at all anymore, perhaps due to the bad reputation the drink got several years ago. In 2006, Canadian news site CBC reported on two Toronto residents who had been paralyzed after drinking the same batch of carrot juice that caused four severe cases of botulism in the U.S.
After the Bolthouse family sold the company, it changed hands from a private equity firm to Campbell Foods. Then it was acquired by a second private equity firm in 2019, according to Food Dive magazine.
Bolthouse, the “fourth-generation family farm” in California, still produces beverages, dressings and bags of carrots, which are sold at retailers across North America.
13. Stearns & Foster mattress
Mattresses probably aren’t the first item on your Costco shopping list, but the company does offer a generous selection that includes Novaform and Sleep Science, as well as its own Kirkland brand.
The Kirkland Signature mattress, however, is the result of Costco’s partnership with Stearns & Foster. The Kirkland Signature by Stearns & Foster Lakeridge Mattress uses memory foam and gel foam and comes in king, California king and queen sizes.
Buyer beware, though: If you like a box spring for your mattress, you will need to remember to add it to your cart mid-check out on the site. It’s an additional cost of $114.99 for a queen, or $159.99 for a king.
Headboards and bed frames aren’t included in the purchase price either.
“There was one in [the] store and I laid down on it briefly. Seemed nice. Not overly [firm], nor soft. I told my BF if I’d been in the market for a bed, I would have seriously considered it. Price was good,” writes Pebmarsh on Reddit.
The company dates back to 1846, when Seth Foster and G.S. Stearns got together to manufacture cotton goods for horse carriage upholstery. They later moved on to hotel mattresses.
12. Ocean Spray cranberry juice
You can find a wide array of Ocean Spray juices and “Craisins” at your local Costco, but Kirkland only stamps its name on one of those products.
Kirkland Signature Ocean Spray Cranberry Premium 100% Juice is a mouthful but promises pure juice with no added sugar or preservatives in every gulp.
A serving will also give you 100% of your daily required amount of vitamin C, and 9% of your daily carbohydrates.
It features a blend of cranberry, apple and grape juice, similar to the Ocean Spray 100% Juice product, except the latter also includes pear juice.
Costco sells the 96-fluid-ounce bottles in packs of two, so you’ll have to free up plenty of room in your fridge if you plan on giving the juice a try.
The Ocean Spray website advertises their partnership with Costco, confirming that they use North American cranberries to make their juice, and include a variety of recipes for you to experiment with.
11. Rice’s honey
Confirmed, for some areas.
The warehouse giant spilled this sweet secret in a 2019 issue of The Costco Connection.
Lucas Stanuch, Costco corporate foods and sundries buyer, explained that the company has an extensive program to provide local honey to customers. However, not every state has enough beekeepers to supply the demand.
As a result, your particular bottle of Kirkland Signature 100% Local Raw Unfiltered Honey might be a blend of honey from various suppliers across the U.S.
One of those suppliers is Rice’s Honey. The Colorado-based company, known for its brand of Local Hive Honey, has been around since 1924 and says it only works with local American beekeepers.
Reviews on Amazon for the honey see 74% of customers rate it five stars. They praise its taste, but a consistent criticism is that it solidifies before you get to use it all.
The serving size is one tablespoon, which gives you 60 calories and 6% of your daily recommendation of carbohydrates.
10. CooperVision contact lenses
Looking for disposable lenses? Costco offers a Kirkland Signature product with big brand origins.
Just check out the product on Costco’s website — the warehouse chain lists CooperVision as the manufacturer behind Kirkland Signature’s daily disposable contact lenses under the specifications section.
CooperVision bills itself as a global leader in contact lenses, featuring brands like MyDay, Clariti and Biofinity, which are also sold at Costco.
You’ll spend $58.99 on a 90-count box of the Kirkland Signature product at Costco. In comparison, Walmart.com lists a 90-count box of MyDay daily disposable contact lenses for $82.
If you buy contact lenses from Costco online, they will verify your prescription before filling your order; you can speed up this process by uploading a picture of your current prescription to your website.
The verification process may take up to eight additional business hours.
They do not ship contact lenses to Arkansas.
9. Trident Seafoods fish oil
America’s biggest seafood company is responsible for a Kirkland Signature brand of fish oil, according to a couple of class action lawsuits.
In 2018, a case was filed against Costco and Trident Seafoods, alleging that Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Fish Oil contained less than half of the omega fatty acids that the labeling claims. A similar suit was filed in 2017 as well (this was dismissed less than two months later).
Costco has changed its packaging since the 2018 lawsuit. In its reporting on the court case, Truth in Advertising mentioned that the brand promised 330 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. The current Kirkland Signature fish oil sold by Costco says it provides 300 milligrams.
The Seattle Times says Trident Seafoods also manufactures a fish oil supplement for Sam’s Club and BJ’s.
The seafood giant sells products under its own brand name, as well as crabmeat and shellfish alternatives under the Louis Kemp Crab Delights brand and supplements under the Pure Alaska Omega brand.
8. Blommer chocolate
Turns out those addictive packs of chocolate-covered nuts you grab at Costco to snack on your drive home come from the “manufacturers of the finest chocolates since 1939.”
A 2013 issue of The Costco Connection magazine reported that Costco gets its Kirkland Signature chocolate through Blommer Chocolate Company, the largest cocoa processor and chocolate ingredient supplier in North America.
Together, Costco and Blommer developed a sustainability program for cocoa sourcing in West Africa’s Ivory Coast, where most of the store’s chocolate comes from.
According to The Costco Connection,the farming agreement ensures a high quality and traceable product while providing fair wages, education and other services to local communities.
Blommer hasn’t been content to rest on its chocolate-covered laurels.
One of their sustainability efforts included becoming the first cocoa producer to offer 100% RSPO-certified, mass balance palm oil in the U.S., according to a 2013 press release.
On their website, they also list goals about their environmental impact, prosperity and empowering the farmers they work with.
7. Isigny Ste-Mère brie
You can still serve your guests in style with hors d’oeuvres made from a Kirkland Signature cheese.
Normandy-based Isigny Ste-Mère exports its butters, creams and cheeses around the world and provides Costco with its store brand brie.
Isigny says it produces its brie with the “best Normandy milks” that are collected every 48 hours, seeded with lactic starter cultures, molded, drained and dry-salted and then ripened on wood shelves for at least seven days.
All Isigny Ste-Mére products, including their brie, are made with Normandy milk, which is famous for its richness of cream and amount of vitamins.
Before the milk gets fermented into cheese, the dairy stores it in reception tanks for 48 hours before putting it through a series of quality tests.
The Costco Connection describes Kirkland Signature Isigny Ste-Mère Brie as a double-cream brie with a 60% butterfat content and “mushroomy notes.” Isigny suggests cutting the top off, layering on some honey and raw sugar, then sticking it under the broiler for a delicious brûléed brie.
6. Jean-Marc Brocard chablis
It’s clear that winemaker Pierre Brissy is behind the 2019 Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru; his name’s on the back of the bottle.
Brissy is a maître de chai — or, “cellar master” — for major French producer Jean-Marc Brocard.
The chablis is aged 12 months in stainless steel tanks and features lemon citrus and white floral notes.
The 2018 bottle was made by Odile Van Der Moere. As of 2020, Van Der Moere was also reported as a cellar master for Brocard, where she worked for over 20 years.
And if you take a look at the ammonite logo on the Kirkland chablis, it bears a suspicious resemblance to the one on the Jean-Marc Brocard bottles.
Independent reviews love the 2019 Kirkland Signature Series Premier Cru Chablis. The Costco Wine Blog praised its unoaked style, its medium gold body with fruity notes and its price point.
If you like white wines, it is apparently the perfect chablis for summertime.
5. Patrick Lesec côtes du rhône villages
Kirkland Signature’s dark and fruity Côtes du Rhône Villages makes no secret of its French producer. Just read the description on the back of the bottle.
It adds that only one-fifth of the wine produced in the region is pure enough to earn the Côtes du Rhône Villages designation, and Patrick Lesec’s fruity and chocolate-y concoction stands up to the test.
The white wine features notes of black plum and blackberry and its Chardonnay grapes are grown in Kimmeridgian soil, which is a blend of limestone and clay and allegedly provides the wine with its minerality.
According to Regal Wines, an American importer, Lesec does not grow his own grapes but handpicks wineries to work with and dictates the ingredients and method of production.
It gets mostly average ratings from different reviewers, though, with drinkers reacting to its bold, tannic taste, according to its page on the website Vivino. The Costco Wine Blog found the flavors to be a bit disconnected from each other.
4. Formaggi Zanetti Parmigiano Reggiano
Unlike the “Parmesan” you sprinkle out of a can, the name Parmigiano Reggiano can only be applied to hard cheeses made in certain regions of Italy and subject to strict standards.
Anyone trying to pass off their product as the genuine article can expect a visit from the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The back of Kirkland’s parm shows the 24-month aged cheese is “specially selected” by Formaggi Zanetti, an Italian company that exports cheeses around the world.
Costco currently also sells a shredded Kirkland Signature Aged Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese that comes in one-pound jars — however this product doesn’t feature the Formaggi Zanetti name.
Customers mostly love it, if their Amazon reviews are to be believed, with 79% of customers giving the shredded version five stars. It’s perfect if you want to eat Parmesan as part of your breakfast, lunch and dinner; or if you own an Italian restaurant.
3. Humboldt Creamery ice cream
After filing for bankruptcy in 2009, California’s Humboldt Creamery was sold to competitor Crystal Creamery and started selling its products nationwide through retailers like Walmart.
ABC’s KRCR News reported in 2016 that Humboldt has been manufacturing vanilla ice cream for Costco under their Kirkland Signature house brand.
However, Humboldt Creamery’s vanilla ice cream has also appeared under its own name at Costco, and both products have disappeared from store shelves at times — so the supplier situation may not have settled yet.
Reviews of the Kirkland Signature product seem fairly positive. “Tried it for the first time yesterday. I’m never buying Häagen-Dazs vanilla again. So rich and creamy with a strong vanilla flavor,” writes dontcarebare on Reddit.
Reddit is the place for heated ice cream discussions. User garnetblack67 argued that Kirkland Signature vanilla ice cream is the best out of comparable brands due to objective measurements like its density. Kirkland’s ice cream was definitely the densest, at 108 grams per half cup, followed by Häagen-Dazs with 101 grams.
2. Ti Point sauvignon blanc
This Kirkland white stems from a New Zealand winery established by “three generations of women in wine.”
The Kirkland Signature Ti Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc bottles point to winemaker Tracy Haslam of the Ti Point winery. Some bottles bear the similar crossed leaf logo.
The name Ti Point refers to a peninsula in northern New Zealand, the home of the company’s first vineyard, but the winery has since expanded to the Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough regions.
The Kirkland Signature product features grapefruit, jalapeno pepper, white flowers, lemon zest, kumquat and green-apple flavors, according to a review from The Seattle Times.
If “jalapeno” caught your attention in that description, you would not be alone.
Wine analysts ETS Labs explain that the scent or taste of peppers in your wine are a result of methoxypyrazine in the grape skin — often known simply as pyrazines.
The pyrazine levels in grapes are tested before harvest, and lend a desirable “grassy” flavor to white wines and a non-desirable flavor to reds.
1. Diamond Naturals dog food
Websites including Dog Food Insider claim that Kirkland Signature Dog Food is actually manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, also known as Schell and Kampeter, Inc.
That might not be enough evidence on its own, but in 2012 the Kirkland brand was part of a recall for Diamond dog foods following a salmonella outbreak at Diamond’s production plant in South Carolina. Costco and the Kirkland brand were both named in a class-action lawsuit.
There’s been no word of a break with Diamond following the incident, and the Kirkland brand remains popular with pet lovers.
“Well, the Kirkland adult chicken, rice and vegetables dog food is equivalent to the Diamond Natural dog food; that’s what we feed our dog. We asked our vet about Kirkland over other brands for our sensitive-stomach lab and the vet actually recommended it,” writes Concerned-23 on Reddit.
Dog Food Advisor published an analysis of Diamond Naturals’ dry kibble and confirmed that it derives most of its animal protein from chicken meal and fresh chicken, while its recipe analysis concluded it would give your furry friend 36% of their protein, 28% of their fat and 29% of their carbs.
Kirkland Signature usually includes their Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional profile on their labels wherever possible. In order for a dog food to be called “complete and balanced” on its packaging, it needs to meet the standards set by the AAFCO.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.