The more I read, and saw, the more strongly I felt about it. I currently work for the betterment of the manufacturing sector, and it goes against my grain to see this happening. While the allegations don't specifically refer to Foodstuffs (who own New World and Pak'n'Save), I find it really hard to believe their practices aren't similar. So I've set myself a challenge: to shop at places that aren't the supermarket.
Now, we have at least 4 Countdowns and a New World within 3 km of my house. They have market coverage for sure. But I've been talking to my friends who have been doing this themselves for various reasons, and they have helped point me in the right direction.
|The last of the bogroll|
And with that, I set out at 1pm today to do the household shopping. I'm writing this blog for anyone else who wishes to stand on the side of the manufacturers, and boycott the big boys. To me, these business practices are completely unacceptable.
Prices quoted from Countdown come off their online shopping website, taken within hours of the purchase being made. Where I couldn't find a comparable product on the Countdown website, I have removed them from my 'total spend' tally, so both totals are comparable.
|Eco Store - 1 Scotland St, Freemans Bay, Auckland|
- Laundry detergents
- Cleaning products
- Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel
I took in some old bottles and had them refilled. Awesomely, they were having 20% off today.
Total spend: $14.80
Countdown price: $21.47
Difference: Ecostore is $6.67 cheaper, and allows recycling of own packaging.
|Bulk Food Savings - Shop 3, 217 Dominion Road (go into the Wendy's drive through, then go immediately right into the carpark)|
I'd done some Googling to find the next place, but if you're in Auckland City, Bulk Food Savings off Dominion Road is the place to go for:
- Dried goods
- Beans, pulses, legumes
- A selection of regular grocery items, such as oil and tinned tomatoes
- A selection of the non-food items like tinfoil, clingwrap etc
- Organic goods
- Gluten-free goods
The fact is their variety is miles better than Countdown's. Only one brand, but there was at least 7 different sugars, and 10 different flours. I bought one product here (yeast flakes) I couldn't compare because it's not stocked at Countdown.
Much of what I did buy is organic, and not stocked at Countdown, so where that happens I've used the product I would normally buy for comparison price.
Total spend: $60.60
Countdown price: $59.60
Difference: Countdown is $1.00 cheaper
|Fresh World - 270 Dominion Rd, Mt Eden|
Next stop, Fresh World. I can't say I'm too fussed about which fruit and vege store I go to, but these guys are around the corner from Bulk Food Savings, making them convenient. I don't really think you need a breakdown of what you can buy at a fruit and vege store... do you?
There are two things I bought here that Countdown wouldn't provide on their website: fresh limes (at $14.99/kg here - about half what I have seen them for at Countdown in the past), and shallots.
This one genuinely surprised me, because I was not expecting this kind of price difference in Countdown's favour, but there you are.
Total spend: $23.95
Countdown price: $16.39
Difference: Countdown is $7.56 cheaper
|Farro - 34 Westmoreland St W, Grey Lynn|
Lastly, (after an aborted attempt to go to Nosh, who didn't have half of what I wanted to get), I went to Farro. We've been shopping here for our meat for about a year now anyway for one reason: it's far, far superior. It's cut better and it tastes better. As you're about to see, the price difference will make you wonder why you're not doing it as well.
Farro excels at fresh meat, but you'll also find:
- Fruit and vege
- Full deli
- Fresh baked goods
- Fresh fish
- Cheese and dairy goods
- Sauces, vinegars, spices, herbs, oils, pasta
I was minorly disappointed not to find cottage cheese here, and they were also missing my favourite flavour of yoghurt.
Total spend: $69.18
Countdown price: $84.44
Difference: Farro is $15.44 cheaper because...
Note about the meat: Meat is a pretty important part of many people's diets. We don't actually eat that much of it (this will last us a couple of weeks), so when we do, we eat very good cuts. Yes, we spend some money on it, and I recognise not every family is in a financial position to do so, but there are also cheaper cuts available, and they're still competitively priced. To be honest, if we bought this at Countdown, we wouldn't be able to do it either.
Eye fillet steak - two thick-cut pieces (0.326kg)
Farro (@ $39.99/kg) - $13.04
Countdown (@ $45.99/kg) - $14.99
Farro (390g): $14.82
Countdown (340g, prepackaged): $22.99
500g Premium angus mince
Total meat cost Farro: $34.36
Total meat cost Countdown: $46.97
Difference: Farro is $12.61 cheaper, and it really is a faaaaaar superior product. (Like 'I would serve this to Prince William if he and Kate were coming for dinner' superior).
That's everything I got without visiting Countdown. It's all high quality. In most cases I am supporting exactly the same suppliers I always was (except those I would normally buy as 'Home Brand').
My total spend: $168.53
Countdown price: $181.90
Difference: I was $13.37 better off financially overall, not shopping at Countdown.
This took me 2 hours. Which means it took me about an hour longer than normal. But actually, I really enjoyed getting creative on it, and I enjoyed the trip. I can't always say that about the thought of going to the supermarket.
All of these stores were within 3km of my house. All of them are located 'in the shadow' of a supermarket (by that I mean they are all either right beside or across the road from a New World or Countdown). This didn't take me to new neighbourhoods or make life difficult. In fact, it was actually pretty fun!
I saved some money, I learned some interesting stuff, I supported four local retailers, I offered moral support to the suppliers, and I had fun doing it all!
I'll continue to refine this process, and I'll continue to blog about it. If you know anywhere in the Auckland Central area I should try out, please let me know in comments... especially if you've got an idea about the bog roll. Shop smarter New Zealand!