Readers are sharing their opinions on Australian supermarkets, from rising prices to shrinking products.

Estimated read time 7 min read

Due to the high cost of living and drastic increases in grocery prices, several Australians are adjusting their spending and consuming habits in order to manage their expenses.

We were curious about the prices that Australians are encountering when they shop at supermarkets, as the government has instructed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the matter.

From a callout by Guardian Australia, 170 responses expressed frustration over unexplained price increases and a lack of trust towards large supermarket chains. As a result, many have turned to shopping at Aldi and local markets.

This is the feedback from our readers:

Deliberately Confusing Pricing

My significant other and I used to purchase bags of baby spinach leaves. These bags weighed 500g and cost $5. However, we realized that we were running out of spinach sooner than before, even though we hadn’t changed our eating habits. As it turns out, the bags now only contain 280g, yet the price remains $5. We have since started buying our spinach from local farmers at their markets or directly from their farm.

A year ago, the price of 1kg of Caffé Aurora Medaglia D’Oro coffee beans at Coles rose from $18 to $32 per kilogram. This was a significant increase compared to the consistent price of around $18 that had been maintained for many years. After a couple of months, the price was lowered to $19, marketed as a discount from the original $32. This lower price remained for a few months before going back up to $32. The price has gone through a similar cycle of decreasing and increasing a few times. Recently, it went back down to $19 (resulting in me stocking up), but I anticipate it will increase again. This appears to be an artificial increase in price followed by a dramatic decrease, when in reality it is just returning to the original price.

“I have noticed a consistent increase in the prices of items I purchase weekly. For example, Mainland cheese slices were $9.50 and are now $11. What frustrates me is that Woolworths labels them as ‘previously $12’ with a current price of $11, even though they were never actually $12. Similarly, Cadbury chocolate was $6 last week and is now $7. The price of John West salmon slices also gradually rose from $3.95 to $4.90 per tin.” – Michelle from Queensland

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“Coles strategically employs Yellow/Red discounted stickers as a tactic to mislead customers. They intentionally neglect to restock designated sale areas and instead promote pricier alternatives. They may cover a significant portion of products with sale stickers, but the actual price reductions are minimal, giving the illusion of value without actually providing it.” – Bill Leigh, West Pennant Hills

The price of 2kg boxes of Radiant laundry powder at Coles changes frequently, ranging from $20 to a discounted price of $10. This leads me to believe that the actual price may be $10 and the $20 price is used to make the $10 discount seem more significant. -Anonymous, from Melbourne

I consume less in order to have enough money to cover my expenses.

“Before the pandemic, Toby’s 1kg of oats cost $3.50. However, the price has now increased to $6.50. As a result, I now wait for sales where I can purchase 10 boxes for the previous price of $3.50. This has led me to not consume oats as frequently and instead, I am constantly searching for other breakfast options.” – Bill Radley, a resident of Batemans Bay.

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I now have to carefully plan and allocate money for all expenses. I make larger quantities of meals at once, cut back on snacks, and reduce our meat consumption. I also search for deals and discounts every week. Dealing with a child who has food intolerances often means paying exorbitant prices, like $7-8 for a small gluten-free loaf of bread.

I wish that the investigation of the two dominant supermarkets and their excessive price increases, especially during a difficult time for Australian families and farmers, leads to some solutions and beneficial outcomes. – Anonymous, from Launceston.

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A pair of turkey drumsticks at Woolworths supermarket cost $8 during October and November, but two weeks before Christmas, the price increased to $25. After Christmas, the price dropped to $15. The price of [SC] Johnson’s ‘Off!’ insect repellent also changed from $6.50 to $10. Due to these price changes, the anonymous person from NSW now buys less and consumes less in order to make ends meet.

The prices of branded cereals have significantly increased. Sanitarium Weet-Bix, which was previously priced at $5 for a 1.2kg box, suddenly went up to $6 at all Coles and Woolworths stores. Other popular cereal brands, like Nutri-Grain and Uncle Toby’s, also saw substantial price increases, with some boxes now costing over $10. As a result, I am unable to purchase branded cereals unless they are on sale at half-price. This has been my experience as a consumer in Canberra, as shared by Luke.

The cost of my groceries has increased significantly in the past year and a half. My most recent bill at Coles included fruits, vegetables, some household and laundry products, but no protein, and totaled $189. I am a single person and do not have to feed anyone else, but this does not include the cost of my cat’s food, which has also gone up by about 25%.

“I have reduced my purchases and now compare prices at both Aldi and local fruit markets. As the head of the English department, I used to regularly stock our office supplies for the staff. However, I have now scaled back on this and have observed that the staff can no longer contribute as much as they used to.” – Anonymous, Oakleigh East

“I will retain my funds.”

“For the past 25 years, I have been consistently doing the weekly grocery shopping for my family of five at our nearby Woolworths. Before the sudden increase in inflation, my shopping total was usually in the range of $250 to $300. However, it suddenly rose to $400 to $450 overnight.”

“After going through this and later reviewing the half-yearly results of Woolworth’s, I opted to give Aldi a chance for the first time. It is an additional 5-10 minutes of driving. My weekly shopping now costs $250-$300, resulting in a savings of approximately $150 per week. Woolies can go take a hike!” – Graeme Gleeson, residing in Mount Hawthorn

I have observed that the size of packages is decreasing, especially with cornflakes. They used to be 450g for $5.45, but now they are 380g for $5. However, the decrease in price does not match the decrease in weight, resulting in an increase in the real price per gram.

I have observed that pineapple juice also follows this pattern. The quantity decreases from 500ml to 400ml, but the price only decreases slightly from $2.85 to $2.80. This seems to be a common tactic used by companies. I can recall a time when a Tim Tam packet had 12 biscuits, but now it only has nine. However, the price has significantly increased, resulting in me buying less of the product. I will choose to hold onto my money instead. – Jeffrey from Willoughby

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    Several replies have been modified for style and brevity.


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