Groceries snapshot 'a trick'
COFFS Coast shoppers are a click away from cheaper groceries with the launch of a new government website, but independent supermarkets and the Opposition claim the website is a 'clever trick' being played on consumers.
The GROCERYchoice website gives consumers a snapshot of the price of a typical basket of goods in supermarkets in specific regions, which the government claims will help consumers find the cheapest supermarket without having to compare hundreds of prices.
The Coffs Coast falls into a division labelled North Eastern NSW, which covers from south of Casino down to Taree and west to Tamworth.
GROCERYchoice surveys 500 product lines monthly, yet the typical supermarket has between 25,000 and 30,000 lines, with prices changing weekly, daily and sometimes even hourly.
Local IGA owner, Ralph Lynch, said his Bellingen and Jetty stores stock 10,000 product lines and the prices change over a period of days.
“People could be comparing something today that's irrelevant tomorrow,” Mr Lynch said.
Yesterday, independent supermarkets rated as the most expensive in our region, and while Mr Lynch admitted the major players have bigger buying power, he said unfair comparisons could lead to independent stores closing their doors.
“I question who is actually doing the surveying,” Mr Lynch said.
“For example, do they realise there are five different grades of rump steak, and are they comparing the same grade across all stores?
“Are they comparing apples to apples?”
Shadow Minister for Business Development, Independent Contractors and Consumer Affairs, Luke Hartsuyker, claims they're not.
“GROCERYchoice provides out-of-date information on a small proportion of grocery products and does not include weekly specials,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
A disclaimer on the website states the regions in question 'do not necessarily reflect where the GROCERYchoice survey is undertaken', meaning there could be discrepancies between the prices quotes and the actual prices.
Yesterday the website claimed the cheapest 'basic staples basket' was from ALDI at a price of $60.14, while the least expensive store for groceries across all basket categories was Coles at $151.09.
The website can be found at www.grocerychoice.gov.au.