Why your grocery bill is costing more

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So you’re paying more for your groceries these days. But do you know what you’re paying more for, or why? 

Grocery items are becoming more expensive 

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that Food and non-alcoholic beverages rose 8% between February 2022 and February 2023, inclusive of costs attributed to restaurants, takeaway meals and groceries. 

Of the grocery categories listed, dairy and related products saw the highest price spike, increasing 14.3% over the same 12-month period. 

Bread and cereal products saw the second-highest price increase, up 12.5%. 

Other notable increases on supermarket staples include: 

  • Meat and seafood 3.3%
  • Fruit and vegetables 5.8%.  

What does this look like in the real world?  

Compare the Market conducted a comparison of grocery item prices across select major supermarkets from July 2022 and January 2023. 

Below are some notable price increases from the comparison, demonstrating how inflation has impacted the weekly shop in Australia. You can see the full comparison here

  • Mersey Valley Original Cheddar 235g $9.90 (v. $5.60) 
  • Off Bunch Australian Pears 1kg $2.80 (v. $1.90)
  • Mccain Mixed Vegetables Peas Corn & Carrot $3.20 (v. $2.80) 
  • Flora Proactiv Margarine Spread Original 500g $10.00 (v. $8.50)
  • Nutri-Grain 805g $10.50 (v. $9.50)
  • Red Rock Deli Sea Salt 165g $6.30 (v. $4.90). 

The Beforepay Cost of Living Index also reflects a 2.14% increase year-on-year in grocery expenses from an average weekly spend of $104.65 in February 2022 to $106.89 in February 2023.

Ways to save on your groceries  

A Finder survey of 1,054 people found that 3 in 4 Australians have made changes to their diet in order to keep up with the rising cost of living. 

While changing what you eat is one way you could stay in control of your budget amid soaring prices, there are other strategies you can try. 

To help you get started, here are some ideas that could help you find ways to save on your groceries. 

1. Compare supermarket prices before shopping 

Check the website or weekly catalogue of different supermarkets in your area to make sure you get the best deals and don’t end up paying more than you need to. 

There are also tools that can save you time and do the work for you! You can check out websites like SmartCart or apps like WiseList and Frugl that can compare prices of items on your shopping list across different supermarkets. 

If you’re up for it, you could also consider doing multiple grocery runs so you buy only what’s on sale from each supermarket. 

2. Stick to your shopping list

You’ve written your shopping list with the intention of restocking your essential items. So stick to it! Odds are, if something catches your eye while you’re walking through the supermarket and it’s not on your list, you probably don’t need it. 

Focusing on what you do need could help you save from spending extra on items you didn’t plan or budget for.

Bonus tip: shop on a full stomach, so you make less impulse purchases.

3. Sign up to a rewards program for weekly deals and specials 

Supermarket rewards programs aren’t just good for the points – they’re a great source of deals! 

Some loyalty programs will update you each week with what items are on sale, send you a curated list of specials based on what you’ve bought in the past, and offer promotions that give you dollars off your shop. 

Flybuys with Coles and Everyday Rewards with Woolworths are two well-known programs that let you earn points when you shop, including $10 when you reach 2000 points!

4. Buy no-brand groceries 

Skip the extra dollars you could be paying on premium and brand name grocery items by opting for the cheaper alternative. 

For example, a 2L Woolworths brand of Full Cream Milk costs $3.10 as of 29 March, 2023. In comparison, a 2L Dairy Farmers Full Cream Milk costs $4.10!

You could choose which items you’re willing to substitute, and save some money in the process. 

5. Buy sale items in bulk 

Shopping at a place like Costco could be useful for bulk buying at wholesale prices, but with limited locations and an annual membership fee, it might not be the right option for some people. 

An alternative approach is to buy multiple items of non-perishable staples when they go on sale at your local supermarket. This could be anything from tissues and toilet paper to coffee and laundry detergent. That way you’ll be prepared for next time and feel good that you paid the best price at the time. 

Want more tips? See our article ‘5 tips to manage the rising cost of living’ for other ideas you can try to save money. To see how much prices change each month, check out our Cost of Living Index.

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