Objective Food cost is an important factor influencing the consumption of nutritious foods and subsequent chronic disease risk. The present study compared the cost of branded food products with their generic equivalents across a range of food categories. Setting The survey was conducted within two major supermarket chains across six locations in Sydney, Australia (n 12). Design Price differences were calculated for 'core' (nutrient dense and low in energy) and 'extra' (high in undesirable nutrients and/or energy) packaged foods (n 22) between generic and branded items. Results A cost saving of 44 % was found by purchasing generic over branded products across all food categories. The most significant savings were for core foods, such as bread and cereals, and the smallest cost savings were seen for fruit products. There was little variation in cost saving between branded and generic products by socio-economic status of the supermarket location. Conclusions The large price differential between branded and generic food products implies that consumers, particularly those on lower incomes, could benefit financially from purchasing generic items. The promotion of core generic products may be an effective strategy to assist people on lower incomes to meet dietary guidelines.