Many Australians have become afraid of shopping at the supermarket as they struggle to cope with the rising cost of living and find ways to feed themselves and their families without going over budget.
According to Nebula Brdar, the founder of the social media platform and mobile app Supermarket Swap, prices of certain items at Woolworths have increased by 33 percent in just 18 months.
Since December 2021, Ms Brdar has diligently added prices for more than 2000 products into the app, week by week. This is in an effort to help customers find low-cost, additive-free items.
She shows in a video that a bag of Woolworths Macro Original Corn Chips costs $3.30, but cost $2.50 at this time last season – a 31 percent increase – and is still at the higher price since February 2023.
The video also shows that a 500g package of Woolworth’s delicious cheese slices, priced at $6.50 per pack in December 2022, now costs $8.90, an increase of nearly 37 percent. Since the video was recorded, that price has fallen to $8.40.
“We thought ‘wow this is interesting to see,'” Ms Brdar said to news.com.au. She added that it wasn’t just the price increases but the new guarantees supermarkets were using, like locked prices.
She said: “The items that we know [have increased most] are dairy products, and this is obviously due to the increases in the industry that has been passed on through the supermarket.”
The category has seen an increase in cheese and milk, which was something we had expected.
The most expensive category was frozen goods, followed by dairy, meat, seafood, eggs, fridge, pantry, and drinks.
Overall, however, food and grocery inflation, which is at 4.8%, is lower than headline inflation, which is 5.4%.
Woolworths spokeswoman told News.com.au that as inflation rates begin to ease, the company will continue to offer savings to its customers.
We know that Australians are struggling to pay for their daily groceries. That’s why we offer hundreds of discounted products every week and over 6,000 weekly specials.
We’ve just reduced the price by 50 cents of our Tasty Cheese Slices.
We are committed to providing our customers with value while working with suppliers to manage the pressures of the economy.
While Coles was not specifically mentioned in the video about inflation, it is a factor that affects all businesses and consumers.
We are doing our best to keep the prices of Australian households affordable. Coles believes that all Australians deserve to be able to put good food on their table for a reasonable price, especially with the high cost of living.
“Our costs increased because of inflation. Construction costs, energy costs, logistics, packaging, and other costs all rose. Inflationary pressures are also causing many suppliers to increase their prices. All these factors influence the prices customers see at checkout.
The price inflation rate in Coles supermarkets dropped to 3.1% from 5.8% the previous quarter. Fresh food, including meat, produce, deli, and seafood, was deflationary at 2.3%.
“Coles profit margin for the last financial year was 2.6%.” Coles earns $2.60 for every $100 spent in its stores. The profit margins are the same since the 2020 financial period.”
Ms Brdar became a mother for the first time and was inspired to launch Supermarket Swap. She says she had previously stopped reading ingredient lists because of the long codes and names she saw. However, after having a child, she became more conscious about what she was eating.
She said, “I’ve decided that I want to know exactly what is in my food.”
“I began to research this and made the decision that I would choose products that were primarily made of ingredients that are easily recognisable.”
When she first came up with her idea, she said, the dominant narrative about choosing fewer additives implied that you had to grow everything yourself. While she congratulated those who could do this, the Adelaide mum did not have the time.
Ms Brdar stated that most Australians do their grocery shopping in Woolworths and Coles but are confused by the endless options.
Supermarket Swap was created to help people make better choices. It allows users to search for additives using their name or code, shop for specials, create shopping lists and meal plans, and even follow recipes.
The bread she buys in the bakery aisle of the supermarket is often half the price and preservative-free.
She believes that the pandemic has made people more aware of their health but that the cost of living crises have left them at a loss as to how they can do this.
Ms Brdar claims that the majority of Australians buy their groceries from Coles and Woolworths, but they are often confused by the endless options. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Roy VanDerVegt
“Traditionally, I believe that health and eating healthier has been associated with those who have a high disposable income. “We’re passionate about [breaking this idea],” she said.