Supermarket shopping

Pak’n Save had the lowest prices in each centre. Countdown’s Home Brand prices gave it second ranking in Auckland and Wellington … and a close third place in Christchurch.

In Christchurch, prices in Pak’n Save stores were generally 4 to 10 cents cheaper than in its sister chain New World. In Auckland and Wellington the price difference was even greater – in Wellington nearly half the items on our list were more than 50 cents cheaper in Pak’n Save than they were in New World.

Prices also varied between the cities. Wellington had the lowest Pak’n Save and Countdown house-brand prices; but the cheapest New World was in Christchurch.

Name brands vs house brands

By sticking to house brands our shopper was able to save $31 at New World – a 36 percent saving across our 20 items.

On the Countdown website there were 7 specials among the name brands but only 1 was better than the Home Brand price: the 1kg pack of Weetbix on special at $4.99 was 50 cents cheaper than 1kg of Home Brand Wheat Biscuits. Buying house brands saved $27 (a saving of 34 percent).

Unit prices

To make our price comparisons fair we made sure we were comparing like quantities with like. It’s not always easy: cereal wheat biscuits come in 1.2kg or 1kg packs; tissues in packs of 180, 200 or 224; and jam in 500g or 680g jars.

Where possible we bought packs of the same size. Where they differed, we re-calculated the Home Brand price to the size of the pack found in New World and Pak’n Save. For example, a 1.2kg pack of Home Brand Wheat Biscuits cost $6.59 in Auckland but when we calculated the 1kg price to bring it into line with Pams Wheat Biskits (and Weetbix) it reduced to $5.49.

For our brand comparison we even took into account the number of sheets per roll of toilet paper (there are 190 sheets in a roll of Budget or Home Brand toilet paper and 220 in a roll of Purex). House-brand bread weighed 600g instead of the 700g (or more) for brands such as Tip Top or Nature’s Fresh.

Supermarkets now display unit prices (the price per kilogram, 100 grams or other measure) on labels. That makes it easier to compare the price of products that come in different-sized packs.

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