Shop­ping for food bar­gains

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JENNY LING

FOOD prices are con­stantly climb­ing, leav­ing shop­pers lit­tle op­tion but to keep open­ing their wal­lets.

The lat­est Sta­tis­tics New Zealand fig­ures show food prices in­creased 1.5 per cent in the year to De­cem­ber 2013.

The big­gest hikes were in the gro­cery food group which were up 2 per cent and in­cluded dairy prod­ucts like milk and yo­ghurt which both rose around 10 per cent.

But with the large range of su­per­mar­ket shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences avail­able in Auck­land, it’s still pos­si­ble to get good deals.

From bou­tique stores to ex­otic Asian mar­kets and con­ven­tional su­per­mar­ket chains, Auck­lan­ders now have plenty of places to choose their gro­cery items from.

But prices vary as much as the decor so it pays to shop around.

The Cen­tral Leader vis­ited five su­per­mar­kets last week and com­pared con­ven­tional su­per­mar­kets Pak ’n Save and Count­down with bou­tique su­per­mar­kets Nosh and Farro Fresh and Asian food mart D.H Su­per­mar­ket.

While fruit prices are com­pa­ra­ble across all stores – apart from D.H Su­per­mar­ket which had cheap bananas and av­o­ca­dos – gro­cery prices vary sig­nif­i­cantly.

Mt Eden res­i­dent Natu Ch­hiba says he al­ways shops around for the best prices.

He and his wife usu­ally fre­quent Count­down or New World but that’s not set in stone. The cou­ple watches out for ad­ver­tised bar­gains.

‘‘Wher­ever we can get the bet­ter prices we go there,’’ he says.

‘‘You’ve got to th­ese days. Last week bread was two for $5 at New World but this week it’s two for $5 at Count­down. ‘‘We save money that way.’’ Of the hiked gro­cery prod­ucts, dairy prod­ucts in­creased the most, in­clud­ing milk by 9.4 per cent, cheese by 7.7 per cent and yo­ghurt by 10 per cent.

Count­down is sell­ing 2 litres of milk for $4.29 – a far cry from the days milk was de­liv­ered free to schools for New Zealand chil­dren, be­tween 1937 and 1967.

Nosh at­tempted to even the play­ing field in 2012, cre­at­ing a stir when it slashed milk prices to $2.49 for 2 litres by cre­at­ing its own Nosh Es­sen­tials brand.

But milk prices at the bou­tique gro­cery store have crept up again.

Alan­nah Hay­smith was shop­ping at the Mt Eden branch of Nosh when the Cen­tral Leader vis­ited last week.

The young Mt Eden mum likes to shop at the bou­tique su­per­mar­ket for unique items or to pick up some­thing spe­cial for a bar­be­cue.

‘‘It’s good here. Some things are re­ally cheap, for things like eggs and milk, but you wouldn’t want to do your whole shop here all the time,’’ she says.

Mrs Hay­smith heads to Count­down for sta­ples like wash­ing pow­der and nap­pies.

Of the coun­try’s ma­jor su­per­mar­kets Pak ’ n Save con­sis­tently ranks the cheap­est.

Owned by Food­stuffs, the chain has topped Con­sumer New Zealand sur­veys for the low­est su­per­mar­ket prices for the last 11 years.

But Con­sumer re­searcher Jes­sica Wil­son says the gap is def­i­nitely clos­ing.

A Count­down store in Kil­birnie, Wellington, en­sured Pak ’ n Save was cheap­est in only six out of seven cen­tres last year.

‘‘What we’re look­ing at are the big play­ers, Pak ’ n Save, New World and Count­down, where most peo­ple get their shop­ping done on a weekly ba­sis,’’ she says.

‘‘There are other op­tions emerg­ing, like fruit and veg­etable mar­kets, so there are other op­tions out there but the bulk of us still go to the big play­ers.’’

Bar­gain hunter: Natu Ch­hiba looks out for ad­ver­tised spe­cials be­fore go­ing shop­ping.

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