The Grocery Shopping the NCA Wouldn’t Do

First Published – August 2nd, 2007

Last week the National Consumer Agency published its first national comparison of grocery prices. Given that it failed to include two chains who offer what the NCA claims the Irish consumer is lacking at the moment – better value and greater price competition – is renaming it the NCA “Notional” grocery price survey.

Supposedly, the NCA were only shopping for branded items but that in itself is falling into the hands of large multiples. People misguidedly seem to be willing to pay a premium for better known branded items when in a lot of cases, the lesser known brands, such as those stocked by Aldi and Lidl are just as good – and cheaper as well.

The interim Chief Executive of the NCA, Ms. Ann Fitzgerald, called for further international competition to be brought to bear on the Irish groceries market. Easily said when you’re ignoring 2 of the 5 main multiples in the country.

So, we in did the shopping that the NCA wouldn’t do – that they were too posh to do. We took the shopping list from their website and went to Lidl on July 30th, and to Aldi on July 31st. Where there were similar items available, we took note of the corresponding prices. We couldn’t locate just three items (or less well-known equivalents) in either Aldi or Lidl (Muller Crunch Corner, Flora Sunflower Oil, and Cow&Gate Baby Milk Comfort Stage 1 from Birth) – all the rest were almost exact matches, albeit with less well-known brand names. Our comparison is therefore across 43 items rather than the NCA original listing of 46.

Even we were amazed by the results – our updated version of the prices is available here.

Grocer Cost of Shopping Basket
Dunnes Stores €119.00
Superquinn €120.97
Tesco €121.00
LIDL €88.68
ALDI €88.98

So, for a similar weekly shop in a Lidl or Aldi store, Irish consumers could save about €30 over the three traditional multiples – that’s a saving of nearly 25%. If, as a shopper, assuming you’re not absolutely tied to brands, that’s a fantastic saving.

What was also interesting was that similar to the very close comparison between the total cost in Dunnes, Superquinn or Tesco (only €2 in the difference between them) there was also a very close comparison in the price difference between Lidl and Aldi (only 30c across the 43 items).

So, with the international competition that Ms. Fitzgerald so craves now already um… well… competing in Ireland, Irish consumers could save themselves over €1800 per year by shopping at Aldi or Lidl.

But why didn’t Ms.Fitzgerald and the National Consumer Agency tell us that?

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