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Mega-giant packaged food companies usually attract investors with the lure of moderate but stable growth, but related consumer staples ETFs have been telling another story about these market players.

Food producers were usually threatened only by rising commodity costs, which was usually passed down to the consumer. Nowadays, though, consumers are increasingly turning to private labels and store brands to cut down on costs, which could deliver a sucker-punch to the consumer staples name brands, Mike Pienciak for The Motley Fool says.

Even taste tests have confirmed that there’s little difference between the two. With experts sampling foods across 29 categories, blind taste tests revealed that store-brand foods matched or bested their national brand competitors in 23 of the 29 face-offs.

Store-brand foods included in the study sell at an average 27% discount to their name-brand competition, and the consumer is calling the shots. In response, Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) is promoting a price cut up to 10% off their consumer products portfolio, hoping to lure customers back.

Anjali Cordeiro for The Wall Street Journal reports that P&G executives said the company is likely to return to organic sales growth in its second quarter, which ends in December. For the second quarter, P&G expects organic sales growth of 1% to 4%.

Pricing efforts, a revival in sales and measure to boost market share are all being utilized by P&G to appeal to consumers and give the competition a run for their money.

Also look for ETFs that hold stores with strong generic brands and private labels, such as Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Kroger (NYSE: KR).

  • Consumer Staples SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP): up 7.1% year-to-date

  • PowerShares Dynamic Consumer Staples (NYSEArca: PSL): up 14.8% year-to-date

Source: Consumer Staples ETFs: How Name Brands Are Fighting Back