Supermarket own-brand groceries may seem like a great way to manage the rising cost of supermarket shopping. With inflation still running hot, grocery prices are not immune to rising prices. And anyone walking down the supermarket aisles will see ‘offers’ galore. So much so the choices can often be overwhelming.
So what is there to know about how supermarkets label and price their goods? And how can you get the best value for money?
1. Specials and own brands can go by many names
The first complication is that different stores use different language to describe specials and own-brand products. For example, Countdown has “specials”, “great price” (a long-term everyday price) and deals available for Onecard members. Pak’n Save has “extra low”, “everyday low” and “price rollback” prices, and New World has “saver”, “supersaver” and “club deal” discounts. On top of that, all supermarkets will offer multi-buy deals, where you get a discount if you purchase more than one item.
Then you’ve got own-brand products. Countdown has its Countdown brand (known as Select in Fresh Choice) and its Essential brand. Pak ‘n Save and New World have Value, Pams and Pams Finest, equivalent to budget, standard and premium tiers of products, respectively.
In New Zealand, we currently have a duopoly in the grocery sector, meaning two supermarket retailers own all of the supermarket brands. Foodstuffs owns Pak ‘n Save, New World and Four Square brands (among others), and Woolworths owns Countdown, Fresh Choice and SuperValue. Grocery prices are fixed solely by these two players. This is something Consumer NZ has been lobbying to change.
“We need more competition to drive down prices and give New Zealanders a fairer price at the checkout,” said Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ Chief Executive in May 2022.