A wave of Australians fed-up with exorbitant supermarket prices are finding new ways to save money on everyday staples, with many turning to independent grocers, claiming they're a hotbed for good deals.
If you've been stung one too many times at the checkout, expecting to pay one price, only for the total to read something else, you're not alone. Recent analysis from Deakin University found that grocery prices have soared across the board in the last year.
Though that'll unlikely come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to their receipts, the rate at which some items have increased by has been branded "ridiculous". According to the research, released late last month, milk prices had risen by 20 per cent in the two years to July. In the last 12 months, eggs rose by 10 per cent, canned tuna increased by a staggering 25 per cent, canned tomato by 12 per cent, and frozen vegetables were up by 18 per cent.
Fortunately for shoppers fresh fruit and vegetable prices have been easing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported fruit and vegetable prices recorded a downward movement of 5.4 per cent in the 12 months to July. But for many items it's simply a return to normal prices after a surge in 2022 — on the likes of lettuce and cabbage — due to a "perfect storm" of bad growing conditions last year.
Now, amid a seemingly endless cycle of hip pocket pain, people have started exploring their shopping options.
One Queensland shopper explained they obtained an entire box of fresh produce for just $6 by visiting a local grocer. "Bought a box for $6 containing everything you see in the picture. Couldn’t pick and choose what I bought and wasn’t able to even see everything I was buying but I think it was worth it," the shopper said, revealing the store in question to be St Ives Market in Goodna, west of Brisbane.
Aussies lucky 'to have choice'
Consumer expert Joel Gibson echoed the Queenslander, and said that Australians are "lucky enough" to have choice when shopping for groceries, and often, a person can save significantly by exploring what else is available.
"We do have choice in Australia, we've got two major supermarkets," Mr Gibson told Yahoo News Australia.
"We've got Aldi and IGA on the next tier down, you've got all little local grocers, then there's the fruit and veg markets, you've got got warehouses, like Costco and some other locals, and Campbell's is another one.
"So there are other options out there. It's not easy, though, because what the big supermarkets sell more than anything else is convenience. They're convenient, because they're everywhere.
"But in this environment with things so tough, people are doing anything they can to find ways to save and if they've got a local farmers market or you know, found a fruit and veg box that gets delivered, which is cheaper than the major supermarkets — they'll definitely be looking really closely at those options because everything is just so expensive in the supermarkets."
Mr Gibson said although typically local grocers tend to have higher prices when it comes to things such as fruit and vegetables, there's good merit in doing your own research.
"Well I think generally speaking, your local sort of grocers isn't super cheap," he said.
"We've known for a while that if you go to a really big fruit and veg market, you can buy your fruit and veg for about a 50 per cent discount compared to the supermarkets. So we know that if you have that option nearby it can be significantly cheaper, and if people are now doing delivered versions of that it's fantastic news for money savers.
Some grocery products back to 'relatively normal prices'
Of the price hikes, Mr Gibson said some items had returned to a "relatively normal price" while others had soared.
"Remember when they had the floods up north, and then you had iceberg lettuce and broccoli for $12. Yeah. So those things are down by like sort of 50 to 60 to 70 per cent, compared to a year ago," he said.
"But that's only because they just come back to a relatively normal price and they haven't even come all the way back to where they were before the pandemic, according to the Deakin data. "
Support your local
Aussies online were vocal about supporting local businesses in response to the Queensland shopper's $6 haul.
"That's amazing," a person said.
"See this all the time at Cremorne IGA (in Sydney) — $9 regular or $4.50 in the evenings. People who exclusively shop at the duopoly are not only ruining the market, they’re also screwing themselves over," a shopper said.
"Now is the time to utilise your local fruit and veg shop/market more than ever," another said.
"In general much cheaper than the big two for produce, and most will have excess produce selling for extra cheap, or even cool mixed boxes like this."
"Local fruit shop supports small farmers, they were the life blood of small farming until supermarkets destroyed the market in the 90s," said another. "Don’t most fruit and veg places do this with the stuff that’s going off soon," another shopper pointed out.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.