The Brands Behind 15 Of Your Favorite Kirkland Products At Costco

If you're a Costco regular, you'll know that one brand stands above all the rest: Kirkland Signature. Costco's mainstay brand has been a fixture of its warehouse stores since 1995 when company CEO Jim Sinegal saw the need for the supermarket to streamline its offering for customers. Instead of having hundreds of different brand names for individual items, Sinegal decided that using one recognizable name, which could be used worldwide to signpost its cut-price products, was a better option.

Kirkland Signature recently racked up $58 billion in yearly sales, according to CNN, and savvy customers are well aware of the brand's quality. And part of that quality is down to the fact that many Kirkland Signature products are more premium than you think. Instead of creating its own Kirkland Signature products from scratch, Costco has entered into partnerships with dozens of companies that supply items to the retailer under its Kirkland Signature name. This allows Costco to offer its own product at a cheaper price, and the company supplying the product to profit from the sale, creating a win-win scenario. But who are these mysterious companies behind some of your most-loved Kirkland Signature products? We decided to blow the lid wide open and reveal all.

1. Costco's batteries are made by Duracell

Buying store-brand batteries can, for some reason, feel risky, with the presumption that it won't carry nearly as much charge as the big brands do. But that couldn't be further from the truth at Costco. Its Kirkland Signature batteries are actually some of the best you can get, thanks to being manufactured by Duracell, as revealed by president and CEO of Costco, Craig Jelinek, in an interview with WSBTV.

As one of the market leaders of alkaline batteries in the U.S., with a market share of almost 40% in 2016, as shown by Statista, we're guessing that Duracell saw the opportunity to dominate the market even further by getting its products into more stores, even without its brand name. For Jelinek, too, it fits in with Costco's ethos of keeping costs down by reducing unnecessary costs. "Now, this brand here is no advertising, there's no overhead, there's just packaging. We don't advertise it. It's just a brand," he said of Costco's Kirkland Signature batteries. However, by avoiding spending on advertising and by skipping the manufacturing costs that would be involved in creating batteries, Costco is able to sell a high-quality product at a bargain price. ‌

2. The scotch at Costco is made by Alexander Murray

Costco stocks an impressive liquor collection, with name brands sitting next to its Kirkland Signature vodka, rum, and scotch. And in the latter's case, there's absolutely no need to choose a more expensive option, as the origins of the Kirkland Signature scotch varieties are pretty classy. Kirkland Signature scotch has been supplied by California-based distillery Alexander Murray & Co. since 2007. The company, headed up by Scottish CEO Steven Lipp, is also the supplier of Trader Joe's own-brand scotch, as well as Total Wine & More's Ainsley Brae single malt. This is all in addition to its own vintage malt and single-cask whisky, which are available from online retailers.

Interestingly, while many scotch suppliers take pride in naming the origins of their booze, Costco prefers to keep things plain on its bottle. "Neither Total Wine nor Costco want the distillery name identified on the Scotch I supply to them. That's their policy, and I have to honor it," says Lipp, per Market Watch. Nonetheless, it's pretty clear that doesn't deter customers from buying it. The retailer sells roughly 100,000 cases of its scotch a year, making up the majority of Alexander Murray & Co.'s scotch sales. ‌

3. Kirkland Signature Coffee is partly made by Starbucks

While Costco prefers to keep the origins of some of its Kirkland Signature products under wraps, with some of them, it's a bit more willing to share where it comes from. This is the case with the beans for a few of Costco's Kirkland Signature coffee blends, which are supplied by Starbucks, as indicated by the telltale logo on its packaging. Its Signature Medium Roast House Blend, Signature Espresso Dark Roast Blend, and Signature Decaf Medium Roast House Blend all contain whole beans roasted by the coffee giant in its 2.5 lb bags.

The partnership ensures that you're able to get a barista-worthy cup of coffee at home and also gives you peace of mind that the coffee in these specific products is produced ethically. Starbucks is a major purchaser of Fairtrade-certified coffee and has actively done so for several decades, building strong relationships with suppliers around the globe. It's important to note that Starbucks isn't behind all of the products in the Kirkland Signature coffee range, and the retailer isn't quite as transparent about the origins of some of those products, like its Signature French Roast Whole Bean Coffee.

4. Green Mountain supplies Costco with its K-Cups

As well as offering whole bean and ground coffee in its stores, Costco also stocks a wealth of coffee pod products, or K-Cups, for use in Keurig machines. The retailer has a bountiful selection of name-brand K-Cups available in-store, including Dunkin', Tim Horton's, and Newman's Own products. But true to form, it also has Kirkland Signature-brand options. These products, though, aren't made by Costco itself but by Green Mountain, which has been producing Kirkland Signature K-Cups since 2012.

It appears, too, that these K-Cups are actually a brand within a brand. Green Mountain is owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, the mega-company that owns and produces, of course, Dr. Pepper, as well as Krispy Kreme, Schweppes, Canada Dry, and Cinnabon. This is perhaps why it's willing to be so subtle in Costco stores and lose its brand name while simultaneously boosting its profits — after all, a company that size is likely not worrying too much about establishing itself. Despite the monolithic nature of its owner, though, Green Mountain is clearly devoted to producing coffee sustainably, running a seedling program that has seen roughly half a million trees planted in Sumatra, where it sources its beans from.‌

5. Kirkland Signature tuna is produced by Bumble Bee

Costco offers its own tuna product under its Kirkland Signature brand name, but rather than fished by the retailer itself, it's actually supplied by canned fish giant Bumble Bee. Costco and Bumble Bee's partnership goes all the way back to 2002 and has proved lucrative for both companies, with Costco selling millions of dollars worth of the product annually and Bumble Bee undoubtedly taking a hefty cut.

The retailer also acts as a home for Bumble Bee products branded under its own name, creating more product diversification for the supplier. While Kirkland Signature tuna might be a reliable choice, though, thanks to the company behind it, it may not be an entirely ethical one. The Kirkland Signature Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water is a product of Thailand. The Thai tuna industry is one of the biggest in the world, but it has also been connected with human rights issues and worrying labor practices, including the use of trafficked workers. Importantly, Bumble Bee has made strides in monitoring and improving the rights of the workers of its tuna suppliers, ‌with the work ongoing to improve conditions across all its fleets.

6. Jelly Belly and Kirkland Signature are best friends with Costco's jelly beans

Costco is an ideal place to get candy: As a foodstuff that generally has a long shelf life, it's only natural to want to stock up at a lower price. And if you're buying jelly beans, you might be pleased to know that candy giant Jelly Belly plays a big part in Costco's offerings. It's hardly a secret, though: Jelly Belly's logo is prominently placed on the Kirkland Signature 4 lb. jelly bean barrel available at the store, with each container holding 49 of the candy manufacturer's distinctive flavors.

It's interesting that unlike many other Kirkland Signature products, which don't keep the manufacturers of the logo, Jelly Belly's is proudly displayed. We can only assume that this is a tactic that works to both companies' benefit. By advertising Jelly Belly as the maker, customers know that they're getting a recognizable product, but keeping it in the Kirkland Signature family also gives them a sense of gaining said product at a bargain price. It's also a candy that is especially dietary restriction-friendly, containing no dairy, eggs, soy, or fat, and produced in kosher conditions. ‌

7. Its Three Berry Blend is supplied by Townsend Farms

Costco is a great place to pick up freezer produce, with a larger size of the items you use regularly, relieving you from having to head back to the store every week. The store's Kirkland Signature Three Berry Blend is supplied by a producer called Townsend Farms. The Oregon-based supplier has been making fruit products for well over a hundred years, and while its website is relatively unassuming, it does indicate that its "frozen products are available to retailers across the country as private label goods" and that it ships items in bulk, as stated on Townsend Farms – all of which was clearly music to Costco's ears.

However, Townsend Farms isn't very forthcoming about its partnership with Costco, and it came to light thanks to a pretty unfortunate reason. In 2019, the producer had to force a recall of its Three Berry Blend from Costco stores due to the presence of hepatitis A contamination in its blackberries. It was through this recall notice that it also came to light that Townsend Farms supplies another major retailer, Kroger, with its fruit products. Luckily, Costco's stock appeared to be unaffected, with the recall occurring as a safety precaution.

8. Kirkland Signature diapers are a sister brand to Huggies

Amongst the essentials you'll find in Costco stores are diapers supplied under its Kirkland Signature brand name. But far from making them, Costco actually uses the manufacturer of one of the most trusted diaper brands out there. It was revealed by Costco finance chief Richard Galanti that Costco's Kirkland Signature diapers are made by Kimberly-Clark. It has been doing so, according to Galanti, since 2005, with Kimberly-Clark and Costco's relationship extending back even further than that.

Nowadays, Costco only stocks Kirkland Signature and Huggies-brand diapers in its stores, as a further testament to the companies' longstanding partnership. Kirkland Signature diapers remain much cheaper than the Huggies alternatives, though. And interestingly, it also appears to be a better choice in certain areas. It was found that Kirkland Signature diapers have a more flexible waistband and more mobile tabs than Huggies diapers, which could make them a snugger-fitting choice, although Huggies diapers may be more absorbent overall. Kirkland Signature diapers are also constructed with plant-based and hypoallergenic materials, meaning that it's both a safe and somewhat planet-friendly choice.

9. Perrigo is behind Costco's infant formula

Costco has a wide range of baby products, including several infant formula options. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that an item as widely used as this would have a Kirkland Signature version — but Costco has very little to do with its actual creation. Instead, Costco's Kirkland Signature baby formulas are made by pharmaceutical brand Perrigo, which has its own line of baby formulas.

The Perrigo-Costco partnership is a tried-and-tested one and has existed and expanded for some time. After a successful relationship in the United States, Perrigo's output in Costco stores extended to Canada in 2011, in a move that benefitted the manufacturer. "Our acquisition of the infant formula business last year has been a great growth driver for our Company," Perrigo CEO Joseph C. Papa stated on behalf of Perrigo. "The addition of Costco's Canada business will create even more opportunities to help consumers save money on quality, affordable healthcare." Perrigo is no stranger to other partnerships, either. In fact, the company supplies infant formula to every major retailer across the country, including Target, Sam's Club, and Walmart, who brand it under its own names and sell it to customers.

10. Kirkland Signature Cranberry Juice is made by Ocean Spray

Costco is happy to announce some of the origins of Kirkland Signature products to its customers, and its cranberry juice has one of the proudest branding around. Even the least-observant customers out there won't fail to spot the Ocean Spray logo on Costco's Kirkland Signature Cranberry Premium 100% Juice bottles, which it sells in a two-pack. This item sits next to some of the other Ocean Spray products that Costco stocks that don't fall under the Kirkland Signature umbrella, like its Whole Dried Cranberries and its Cranberry Juice Cocktail.

Ocean Spray isn't exactly shy about the partnership, either, with the product on its own website as well as in Costco stores. The relationship with Costco is a canny move for the cranberry-focused company, which has also developed partnerships with a range of other brands, like Hershey's and Absolut Vodka. As the appeal of cranberry products can only go so far, creating partnerships is an excellent way for the brand to corner other companies' cranberry outputs and dominate the market, as it has done with Costco. It's worth pointing out, too, that Ocean Spray's Kirkland Signature Cranberry Juice is a delicious and nutritious product, delivering your entire vitamin C daily value in one serving and containing no added sugar. ‌

11. Kirkland Signature tequila is made by a separate distillery

Tequila grows more popular with each passing day, and in 2022, it hit its new peak, with roughly 270 million liters of the spirit being sold in the United States that year, according to Statista. So, it's hardly shocking that Costco has made tequila one of its central products via the Kirkland Signature label. Costco stocks three separate tequilas in the Kirkland Signature family, but none of them are made by the retailer itself. Instead, Costco relies on Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia, a distillery based in Tesistán, Mexico.

Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia's involvement is shown through the use of NOM numbers on each tequila bottle. This number corresponds to a specific distillery, allowing customers to trace the origin of its product. Costco used several different distillers prior to Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia before landing on this modern facility. It should be noted that Costco doesn't necessarily have exclusivity over this distillery's output or any of the others it uses, and its product may end up being sold through a few other brands. That certainly seems to be the case with Corporate Distillery Santa Lucia, which lists multiple products on its website.

12. Kirkland Signature contact lenses are made by CooperVision

When buying medical items like contact lenses, it can be tempting to go for the highest-price option in an attempt to assure quality. In Costco, though, that may not be necessary. Costco's Kirkland Signature contact lenses, like its Kirkland Signature Daily Disposable 90-pack product, aren't made by the store but by high-profile contact lens company CooperVision, which has been creating them since 1980. Unlike other Kirkland Signature products, which keep the manufacturers a secret, this item displays CooperVision as the maker of the lenses, potentially giving customers peace of mind as to its quality and effectiveness.

Kirkland Signature contact lenses are reasonably priced and are noticeably cheaper than some of the other contacts available at Costco — including those made and branded by CooperVision itself. Importantly, though, Kirkland Signature lenses are very much an everyday option and don't have any of the specifics that other, more expensive contact lenses may offer. It does, however, likely benefit from CooperVision's extensive research into contact lens technology and its endeavors to constantly improve the design of its products.

13. Trident Seafoods makes Kirkland Signature fish oils

Have you ever thought about who makes your store-brand dietary supplements? With so much science and specific formulation involved, it's unlikely to be the company itself. But it's still pretty interesting to find out who makes what — as in the case of Kirkland Signature's fish oil tablets, which are manufactured by Trident Seafoods. While the company primarily makes food, it also has its own range of fish oil supplements made from pollock and salmon oil, but it seems to also supply Costco with its Kirkland Signature products.

This would all be a closely guarded secret, though, if it wasn't for a 2017 class action lawsuit filed against both companies. The person filing the lawsuit did so against Trident and Costco with the claim that upon testing a Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Fish Oil product, they found that it didn't contain the omega-3 fatty acids that it stated it had. The lawsuit was later dismissed by a judge, with Trident Seafoods' CEO Joe Bundrant stating in response that "We go to great lengths to ensure the accuracy of our labeling, and we will always vigorously defend ourselves and our customers" on SeafoodSource. ‌

14. Costco's chocolate is made by Blommer

Kirkland Signature Chocolate relies heavily on Illinois-based manufacturer the Blommer Chocolate Company. The exact date of the start of the two companies' partnership is unknown, but it appears to first be mentioned in an October 2013 copy of "The Costco Connection," where it's asserted that the chocolate maker supplies the Kirkland Signature brand with its sweet treats.

Blommer Chocolate Company and Costco's relationship is further indicated in an October 2022 edition of the same publication, which talks about the two companies' partnership with the Rainforest Alliance. This partnership focuses on supporting farmers in the regions that it gets its cocoa products from, most notably the Ivory Coast, which supplies the source items for Kirkland Signature Chocolate. Costco also places a strong emphasis on being able to trace its chocolate products back to their original source, encouraging greater transparency around supply lines. This is all great news for chocolate fans who like its goodies reasonably priced while still ethical, which Kirkland Signature products can deliver.

15. Its bottled water is supplied by Niagara Bottling

Costco's Kirkland Signature Brand Bottled Water isn't bottled by the retailer but rather is produced by Niagara Bottling. The company is a prolific producer of bottled water and has grown its offering since first being founded in 1963. It now offers a range of bottled water products, as well as vitamin-enhanced waters and bottled teas.

Upon first glance at Niagara Bottling's website, though, you may not be able to identify that it supplies Costco with its products, as the retailer doesn't seem to have much of a presence at all there. The link between them became more visible thanks to a class action lawsuit brought against the water company in 2021. The lawsuit asserted that the bottles used by Niagara, which are also used in the Costco Kirkland Signature range, aren't fully recyclable. It was alleged that the materials used to make the bottles' caps and the plastic film around them would prohibit them from being fully processable by recycling plants. The lawsuit, which was brought about when the person suing bought Kirkland Signature water and doubted its recyclability, was ultimately unsuccessful, with the judge ruling in Niagara Bottling's favor.