In October 2021, The Healthy Mummy carried out a shopping experiment to see how buying the same 10 items from the 6 leading supermarket chains compared in price and availability. Since then, there has been other events that have impacted both price and availability so we have run the same experiment again 6 months later in March 2022 to see how it compares!
Check out the results below!
Why Supermarket Shortages?
Australia has experienced plenty of supermarket shortages since the Covid pandemic began. The emerging crisis now is a bit different. Now the shortages are due to supply-side problems and occurring (almost) nationally. As Covid infections surge in every state apart from Western Australia, supply chains are being crippled by the sheer number of transport, distribution and shop workers now sick or required to isolate.
The major problem now is in transport and distribution. Shoppers entering some supermarkets and grocery stores in NSW and Queensland may face empty shelves and higher prices, as the severe recent floods spark a fresh food supply crisis.
Woolworths’ fresh market update shows shortages for several items because of poor weather conditions in the growing regions – and predicts those shortages to continue for several weeks. The world could be facing a food crisis with prices soaring and crops at risk due to the war in Ukraine, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has said.
Food prices were already high due to unpredictable weather, in part because of climate change, and the Covid pandemic. Now with the invasion of Ukraine, the world’s food systems could be tipped into disaster.
Let’s not even get started on the soaring fuel prices. The need to save where we can is even greater.
The Healthy Mummy Shopping Experiment
What did we buy?
We opted for those staple pantry and fridge items most families buy every week.
- Beef Mince 500g – 5 star or premium
- White sliced bread
- Tasty cheese 500g block
- 5 bananas
- 1 iceberg lettuce
- 1 packet of spaghetti
- 1 tin Australian diced tomatoes
- 1 large brown onion
- 1 Garlic head
- 1 litre full fat milk
So that we were comparing apples for apples we went for lean or premium mince and Australian diced tomatoes. We opted for own brands where available and noted that cheaper brands were limited when buying just 1 litre of milk. Supply issues have meant forcing a purchase of more expensive brands in some cases, such as the Woolies tasty cheese block. And IGA didn’t stock a 500gm block, just their Community Co home brand 750gm block.
Very small price discrepancies can be found in weight of a single onion and head of garlic. And for the bananas
we picture 5 the same as last time but we rounded up to the price per kg for a better comparison. Should also be noted that IGA don’t stock own brand bread and this affects price quite considerably. But the majority of items purchased were like for like.
Where did we shop?
We shopped at a mix of independently owned and popular supermarket chains in Australia.
- Harris Farm
What were the results in March 22?
|Premium Beef mince 500gm||$9.49||$10.50||$10.50||$9.99||$11.77||$11.65|
|White sliced bread||$1.39||$1.40||$1.40||$3.99||$4.00||$2.00|
|Tasty Cheese Block 500gm||$4.79||$8.50 (home brand NA)||$6.00||$7.99||$7.80 (only had 750gm)||$9.82|
|Diced tin Australian tomatoes||$0.99||$1.40||$1.40||$1.49||$1.55||$1.49|
|1 lg brown onion||$0.66||$0.71||$0.93||$0.69||$0.88||$0.51|
|I ltr full cream milk||$1.35||$2.10||$1.35||$2.39||$2.60||$2.39|
And the results last time October 21……
|Beef mince 500gm||$7.99||$7.50||$7.50||$8.99||$10.45||$9.72|
|White sliced bread||$1.29||$1.60||$1.40||$2.69||$3.60||$4.15|
|Tasty Cheese Block 500gm||$4.79||$5.30||$5.30||$7.50||$8.00||$8.49|
|Diced tin Australian tomatoes||$0.99||$1.00||$1.00||$1.49||$1.65||$1.49|
|Large brown onion||$0.49||$0.55||$0.80||$0.62||$0.63||$0.73|
|I ltr full cream milk||$1.29||$1.29||$1.29||$2.39||$2.40||$2.59|
So you can see an increase across the board with the biggest hike in mince and tasty cheese, being the big ticket items in the shop. Alarming is the percentage increases in just 6 months and what stores have been most affected.
Below we can see this in the comparison table
Percentage increase between two shops
|Percentage increase between two shops|
Prices have been affected with a minimum 8.7% (IGA) and a maximum of 35.25% (Woolies). Most surprising is the fact that the larger commercial chains have been affected the most whilst independently owned Foodworks and IGA see the most modest of increases!
So has our percentage increases between the stores changed? Last comparison saw over 40% difference between ALDI and our independently owned stores. The percentage difference on our recent buy was 39.9% between ALDI and Foodworks. So almost exactly the same.
When is the best time to shop?
Also worthy of a mention is stock availability and the time you shop. For example, shopping at Foodworks in the evening may see fresh stock like bread limited. If you shop in the evening you can only get our hands on the local bakery Barrington white sliced, with own brand Best Buys shelf empty. While nice to support local and arguably a better quality loaf it is an eye watering $4.15, compared to Aldi’s loaf at just $1.39 and that works out at nearly 300% higher cost.
So sometimes it’s working out what items stand out as increasing your overall spend in a particular shop and avoiding these things until your next ALDI visit!
Harris Farm and independent stores boast less packaging, which may be a consideration for some but you are looking at paying at least 30% more for your shop, vs a more modest difference of 10% to shop at Coles or Woolies. Harris Farm arguably boasts the best fresh seasonal food offers. But ALDI will never be beaten for the best budget shop!
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