The range comprises 1,400 lines and will launch in stores from Monday, although it will not be completed until October. Of the 1,400, 200 will be new lines while the remainder will be existing products repackaged. 450 will be reduced in price, an investment of£20-25 million.
The John Lewis Partnership-owned grocer said the products would still be produced to the same high quality and animal welfare standards as the rest of its range.
Managing director Mark Price said that Essential Waitrose was designed to counter the perception that Waitrose was more expensive than its rivals, and therefore used as a top-up shop for treats rather than for the whole shop.
"Customer research tells us that although we are a destination store for quality products, shopping for our own label essential items hasn't been as easy as it could be," he said.