A comparison of prices across a group of items at the three main supermarkets in lockdown and alert level 3 showed that while PAK'nSave is the cheapest, it also had more price variance than its competitors.
Amidst allegations of price gouging and shortage of items from antibacterial products to baking products such as flour, Newshub compared the prices of 15 items at PAK'nSave, New World and Countdown on April 25 and May 6.
The comparison shows that shopping at PAK'nSave is cheapest, costing $57 on May 6, a saving of $7.36 compared to Countdown and $6.24 for New World. The same group of items would cost $63.24 at New World and $64.36 at Countdown, if bought on the same day.
Between the two dates, eight items at PAK'nSave were between 10c and $1.10 more expensive on May 6, a total of $2.21 more. Two items had dropped in price, costing a total of $1.30 less. The net difference is a 91c increase on May 6 across the 15 items (a total cost of $56.09 on April 25 and $57 on May 6).
With the exception of coco pops and olivani spread, Countdown prices were the same between the two dates. The net difference is a 51c saving on May 6.
At New World, two items cost less on May 6 and three items cost more. There is no net difference ($1.70 saved and $1.70 increase).
Examples of items found to cost less at PAK'nSave compared to other supermarkets across both dates were breakfast cereal (Kellogg's coco pops and Sanitarium muesli), body wash (Palmolive milk & honey) and Anchor milk.
Of the items that increased in price between April and May, just three were priced higher at PAK'nSave than at New World or Countdown (cucumber telegraph, Jif and Chef cat food).
Newshub asked a group of shoppers which supermarket they prefer and found that their responses were divided.
"PAK'nSave is cheaper, they also re-pack your groceries into a trolley," Karen said.
"[I go to] PAK'nSave for the main shop, Countdown for top-ups or the odd thing I can never find (only because Countdown's closer to home)," Angelique said.
"Normally I go to Countdown, but buy the specials which saves us more than going to PAK'nSave. I have regularly found the produce to be fresher at Countdown [and] I have a OneCard and get $15 back every so often," Bee said.
"We did a comparison and bought the same things a week apart from Countdown and PAK'nSave and found the difference to be about $30," Sue added.
"I like New World: great supply of gluten-free alternative products and staff are great," said Carol.
Antoinette Laird, Head of Corporate Affairs, Foodstuffs New Zealand said that price gap comparisons are made throughout the year, which enables the company to maintain it's offer of 'New Zealand's lowest food prices'.
"Our most recent comparison was conducted in mid-February. On 11 February, one customer did her shop at PAK’nSave Moorhouse. The same customer then completed her same shop at Countdown Moorhouse. She saved $29.73 by shopping at PAK’nSave," Laird said.
"On 14 February a different customer shopped at PAK’nSave Silverdale, and then at Countdown Silverdale. She saved $40.98."
Some customers may prefer the quality and range available at other supermarkets, while price-conscious customers are likely to find PAK'nSave their main go-to.
"No in-store frills means we’re able to keep costs low and pass the savings onto our customers," Laird added.
Fifteen grocery items compared by Newshub on Sat 25 April (lockdown) and Wednesday 06 May (alert level 3):
Coco pops original 375g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $6.50, PAK'nSave $4.99, New World $6.49
Price change 6/5/2020: Countdown $5.00, New World $4.99
Watties mild chilli beans 420g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $2.60, PAK'nSave $2.29, New World $2.59
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $2.39
Arnotts cruskits rice 125g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $3.50, PAK'nSave $2.69, New World $3.29
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $2.79
Jif cleaner cream regular 375g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $3.49, PAK'nSave $2.89 (lemon only), New World $2.99
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $3.09 (reg/lemon)
Diamond Rice Risotto chicken 200g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $3.00, PAK'nSave $2.79, New World $2.99
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $2.89
Pringles original tube 134g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $3.40, PAK'nSave $2.99, New World $3.49
Price change 6/5/2020: New World $3.29
Celery bunch whole:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $4.50, PAK'nSave $4.49, New World $4.99
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $3.29
25/4/2020: Countdown: $1.80, PAK'nSave $2.19, New World $2.59
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $3.29, New World $2.99
Tip Top supersoft sandwich 700g:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $3.20, PAK'nSave $3.09, New World $3.19 (toast only)
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $2.99, New World $3.59 (toast only)
Chef Classic cat food jellymeat can 690g:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $3.00, PAK'nSave $2.79, New World $2.79
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $2.99
Tegel frozen chicken 950g:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $6.00, PAK'nSave $5.25, New World $7.00 (non-frozen)
Price change 6/5/2020: none
Palmolive naturals milk and honey 500ml:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $6.00, PAK'nSave $3.99, New World $4.99
Price change 6/5/2020: PAK'nSave $4.30
Sanitarium natural muesli with fruit and 5 grains 625g:
25/4/2020: Countdown $6.99, PAK'nSave: $4.99, New World $4.99
Price change 6/5/2020: New World $5.89
Olivani olive oil spread 500g:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $4.00 (special), PAK'nSave: $3.89, New World: $3.99
Price change 6/5/2020: Countdown $4.99, PAK'nSave: $3.99
Anchor milk standard blue 3l:
25/4/2020: Countdown: $6.89, PAK'nSave $6.77, New World: $6.87
Price change 6/5/2020: no change
*Prices were compared at Countdown Three Kings (Mt Eden or Blockhouse Bay if item not available), PAK'nSave Royal Oak and New World Mt Roskill. Home brands were not included due to the inability to compare across supermarkets.