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4 August 2023

Where can you find the cheapest fruit and vegetables?

Does it pay to shop around when buying fruit and vegetables? Our spot check found significant pricing differences, depending on where you shop.

Fruit vege

Like many people, food prices send me into an emotional spiral nearly every time I enter the supermarket. A few weeks ago, I spotted an eggplant for $8, which was scary. I like eggplant, but not that much.

Many households are having to make tough decisions about what goes in the trolley, particularly when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Of all the food categories, fruit and veges have faced some of the most intensive hikes – up 22% in a year according to Stats NZ.

As a nation, we're stressed about the cost of food, and that worry is on the rise – currently, two out of three people cite it as a major financial concern. So, when it comes to getting our 5+ a day, is there much point shopping around, or is it going to be expensive wherever you go?

I did a price spot check, including New World, Countdown, PAK'nSAVE, as well as from a side of the road fruit and vege seller. In some instances, you could make major savings by shopping around. There was a:

  • 91% price difference for watermelon
  • 57% difference for spring onions
  • 55% difference for iceberg lettuce.

Who is the cheapest retailer?

Image of the cheapest retailers

Unfortunately, no one retailer was consistently cheaper. Still, overall, looking at a basket of eleven fruit and vegetables, PAK'nSAVE was the cheapest, followed closely by the roadside fruit and vegetable seller, while Countdown had the cheapest produce for only two items. New World lacked sharp pricing, being consistently more expensive than the cheapest items.

So, does it pay to shop around? It does, but it takes a lot of time and effort and there is no–one-stop shop for consistently cheap produce. It's nice to have options, though – produce markets continue to be a weekend staple in many areas across Aotearoa, The Warehouse now sells fruit and vegetables at selected stores, new entrant Supie is selling groceries online in Auckland and plans to extend further, and price comparison sites like enable shoppers to compare duopoly prices at the click of a button.

Unfortunately for some New Zealanders, there are limited options with only one supermarket in their area, but for many people, buying options are improving, albeit slowly. We’re keen to hear about price variations in your area. Do you shop around for groceries or stick to one supermarket for all your needs?

The spot check breakdown

The data is sourced from the cheapest available price between 23-27 July, excluding loyalty and club cards.

Image of a shopping cart

End dodgy 'specials' at the supermarkets

We have been looking into loyalty pricing – we don’t think loyalty schemes always offer the most competitive price. If you see any examples of products with a big difference between member and non-member pricing please share it with us.

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