Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Food Fight

The grocery wars continue in Australia.
After Coles sliced its home-brand bread to $1 a loaf, Woolworths has announced a 12-month freeze on apples, tomatoes, carrots, onions and potatoes, regardless of growing or harvest conditions. These tit-for-tat price cuts began in February when Coles slashed its milk price to $1L, quickly matched by main rivals Aldi and Woolworths. NZ milk prices were also frozen for a year in February (though that was probably because the govt began a price-gouging inquiry!).
However kiwi supermarkets are unmoved by these latest Oz freezes. Progressive Enterprises (which owns supermarket chains Countdown, Woolworths and Foodtown) says our market is “different” and it has no immediate plans for a price freeze. Easy to say, when you own about half the grocery market in NZ! Foodstuffs (owner of New World, Pak 'n Save and Four Square) says it doesn't think price freezing's sustainable and the move could hurt suppliers. Er, no: Oz research shows sales have climbed since these freezes began!
Facebook users are pushing for NZ to follow Aussie's lead, with many users also commenting on scrapping GST on essentials. Back in 2008 a 25,000-signature petition, to scrap GST on food, was presented to Parliament by the Residents Action Movement – it sank without trace. But the issue just will not die, and several political parties are beating this drum harder pre-election.
Healthy food is exempt from GST in Australia and Britain, but by all accounts it's difficult to administer with debate over the definition of 'healthy food'. Hmmm, sounds like an excuse to me. A carefully drawn-up list of what is/is not exempt from GST would surely clarify things - how hard can that be?
With so many people under financial strain right now, any help at the checkout would be very much appreciated.


Richard said...

I recently visited my local Coles, and was very surprised by the low prices. I know that will sound like an ad, but the essentials are dirt cheap.

Bread, milk, eggs... Hey, even those energy saving lighbulbs that typically retail for around $10-11 - the Coles brand is $3.99.

Even non-essentials, such as Coles branded junkfood like sweets and fizzy drinks, are all flat priced. A 1.25ml "Coles Cola" was 99c, and a 200g bag of "Coles" Snakes, was $1

Research does say that sales might be up on many essential items, but i think that reflects sales for the supermarket brands (Coles/or Woolworths), not the premium brands such as Cadbury/Burgen/McCain etc.

Writer Of The Purple Sage... said...

"And now we cross live to our international shopping reporter, Richard...!"
Thanx for the update! Can't remember the last time I actually bought a premium-brand treat...