Consumer advocacy group, CHOICE compared prices from the four major supermarkets – Coles, Woolworths, IGA and Aldi to see which of the major supermarkets offers the biggest discounts.
The most recent survey found that 63 percent of Australians are worried about the cost of food and groceries, followed by electricity costs.
When conducting their research, CHOICE wrote a shopping list of 29 items and went to the supermarkets to compare the prices.
Aldi came out on top as the cheapest supermarket.
A basket of national brand products cost $145.23 per week at Coles and $141.83 at Woolworths, including specials. Meanwhile Aldi’s basket only cost $80.75. That’s a massive saving of $61.08 or $64.48 if you’re willing to sacrifice the national brand products.
If you choose the more budget option where available you could save yourself an extra 54 percent when shopping at Aldi, rather than buying national brands at Coles or Woolworths.
Coles and Woolworths frequently monitor each other’s prices so there was only $3.40 difference in the price. Generally, the specials of the week will have the biggest impact on the overall cost of the groceries.
IGA has typically been the more expensive supermarket, especially if you’re looking at the regular shelf prices. Groceries at IGA were $142.79.
When fresh fruit and vegetables were removed from the basket, IGA was cheaper by a small margin.
Switching to Coles or Woolworths supermarket brand groceries can also offer significant savings. You could save $57.67 at Coles and $54.90 at Woolworths if you opt for the house or own brand rather than the national brand. That’s a savings of 40 percent or 39 percent respectively.
Even so, Aldi remains the cheapest at $80.75. The supermarket brand groceries basket cost $87.56 at Coles and $86.93 at Woolworths, including specials.
It also pays to keep an eye out for phantom brands, which are basically disguised supermarket brands. Woolworths has a number of these including:
- Armada cling wrap
- Balnea hand wash
- Clean laundry detergent
- Frey chocolate
- Shine dishwashing liquid
- Vevelle tissues.
The idea behind the phantom brands is that they help counteract the negative perception that supermarket brands are lower quality than private brands. A phantom brand may be good quality and offer value for money but customers could feel duped if they discover they’re buying a supermarket owned product.
The 2021 CHOICE supermarket satisfaction survey also found that there’s a perception that Coles and Woolworths are replacing national brands with supermarket brands, so although choosing supermarket brands can save you money, it could mean that you lose the ability to choice as the supermarkets stop stocking niche brands.
The biggest savings can be made when you switch to the budget-tier supermarket brand. The quality and look and feel of the product may not be as good as the national brand but if you’re just after savings it’s a great place to start.
Coles has shifted away from calling their budget brand ‘Smart Buy’. They now call it ‘Coles’. Woolworths has done similar and now calls their budget tier, ‘Essentials’. Previously it was ‘Homebrand’.
CHOICE was able to find budget versions for 12 of their basket items at Aldi; and 15 at Coles and Woolworths.
Aldi was still cheaper at $67.18 for 29 items, Coles was $72.93 and Woolworths was $72.89. This includes specials but there wasn’t a big difference as budget-tier grocery items do not normally get discounted.
The other question that CHOICE asked in their survey is if where you live makes a difference. They found that national brand groceries will actually be cheaper in Queensland and Western Australia ($140.67 and $140.25 respectively). Supermarket brand or budget-tier branded baskets are more expensive in Queensland and Western Australia however.
This is not the first time that Aldi has won on price. The supermarket chain also won in 2017 and 2015.