Sales of premium own brand products in UK supermarkets grew nearly four times the rate of overall grocery sales in the year to June, according to new research from Nielsen.

The Nielsen Global Study of Private Label found that 71% of UK respondents said the quality of own brand products had improved, while six in 10 said the quality was as good as name brands - nearly twice as many (34%) as four years ago. Furthermore, 42% said some own brands were of higher quality than name brands.

Own brand products accounted for 54% of UK supermarket sales in the year ending 21 June 2014, with premium products growing 5.2% year on year - compared with overall grocery sales of 1.4%.

The perception that own brand products are for people on tight budgets was shared by only 37% of UK respondents - compared to 46% of Europeans.

Nielsen’s UK head of retailer and business insight, Mike Watkins, said the perception of own brand products had “improved dramatically” in recent years.

“As with manufacturer brands, retailers have, over time, successfully built up equity into their own brand products by investing in product innovation, further developing range and increasing marketing activity,” he added.

In the UK, the categories with the highest concentration of own brand sales are fruit and veg (almost 100%), meat, fish and poultry (96%) and delicatessen (80%).