Independent supermarkets gain ground in latest GROCERYchoice survey

Posted by Isobel Drake on 2nd December 2008

The latest survey on the GROCERYchoice website has indicated that, on a total grocery basket, Woolworths supermarkets are the cheapest in 45 of the 61 regions surveyed. This compares with 30 of 61 regions in the previous month’s survey. Independents are again the cheapest in the Eastern Central Queensland sector, with Coles on top in the other 15 regions.

The basket prices represent the average price for a retailer within a specified region, not the price for a specific individual supermarket outlet. Prices are calculated for the following grocery baskets: meat and seafood; fruit and vegetables; dairy; breads and cereals; drinks and snacks; general groceries; household and personal care.

The price of a basic staples basket, which includes a range of staple products from the other baskets, is also calculated. As a result of Aldi’s smaller product range, this is the only basket in which they are represented. In the latest survey, Aldi remained the cheapest for a basic staples basket. With Aldi excluded, Coles led the way in 41 of the 61 regions for a basic staples basket, with Woolworths on top in 11.5 (split one region with Independents). The Independent supermarkets recorded their best result by being cheapest in 8.5 regions.

The GROCERYchoice website continues to come under attack and control of the site appears likely to shift to consumer group Choice. The Federal Government and Choice remain in discussions about a possible deal, which will enable more information to be posted on the site.

A former Director of Choice, Robin Brown, resigned over the possible risk to Choice’s independence by taking on the new role. “My view is that this was such a momentous decision for Choice, quite unprecedented in its 50-year history; a large amount of government money and a matter that was clearly quite political. I thought that there was a significant risk to Choice’s reputation as an independent commentator on public policy, on the way markets work and so on; and a risk to its bipartisan approach to politics,” he told ABC radio last week.

“I just think there is a risk to it,” he added. “But I think the leadership of Choice is very aware of those risks and I think they will do everything that can be done to make it work effectively. It is still an excellent organisation and I think it will continue to be so.”