Newshub test finds buying groceries from Australia significantly cheaper than NZ supermarkets

An Otago woman recently revealed huge savings by shopping at Australian supermarkets and getting the items shipped to New Zealand.

The woman posted about her experience online, saying she did all her shopping on Amazon's Australia website. She said she only bought items that were eligible for free shipping but if she had paid shipping, it would have been $15. 

She bought 13 items which included rolled oats, pasta, nuts and dried fruit, shampoo, hair dye and toothbrushes. Her total bill, including tax, came to AU$93.30 (NZ$99.47). 

The woman then bought the same items at her local supermarket and said it cost $139.96 - $40 more. 

Newshub decided to test the woman's theory by comparing prices listed on Amazon's Australia site which were available for shipping to New Zealand. 

To get groceries delivered to New Zealand from Australia all you need to do is open the Australian version of Amazon and search for groceries. 

Then the results can be filtered depending on a variety of factors such as price, brands and sellers. 

Newshub compared the price of several pantry staples available through Amazon versus those available at Countdown, PaknSave and New World. 

The difference was startling with a 500g pack of San Remo spaghetti available for AUD$1.95 (NZD$2.10) on Amazon. The same pasta was $2.69 at PaknSave, $3 at Countdown and $3.49 at New World. 

A 500ml bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup was available on Amazon for AUD$3.00 (NZD$3.24) while the same bottle was $5.29 at PaknSave, $6.49 at New World and a staggering $6.59 at Countdown - a whopping $3.35 more than the Aussie price. 

A comparison of Heinz ketchup prices from Amazon's Australian website versus Countdown in New Zealand.
A comparison of Heinz ketchup prices from Amazon's Australian website versus Countdown in New Zealand.

A 500g jar of Dolmio Classic tomato pasta sauce with basil was available on Amazon for AUD$2.00 (NZD$2.16) while the same jar cost $2.89 at PaknSave, $3 at Countdown and $3.09 at New World. However, shipping wasn't free for the Dolmio although other pasta sauces were available with free shipping. 

A comparison of San Remo spaghetti at Amazon's Australia website versus New World.
A comparison of San Remo spaghetti at Amazon's Australia website versus New World.

Meanwhile, a 400g jar of Moccona Classic medium roast instant coffee was AUD$18 (NZD$19.42) on Amazon, compared to $31.99 at PaknSave and $32.50 at Countdown. A 400g jar wasn't available at New World but a 100g jar was $12.99. PaknSave's 100g jar cost $11.49 while Countdown was charging $13. On Amazon, a 100g jar of Moccona dark roast instant coffee was AUD$6.95 (NZD$7.50). 

A Countdown spokesperson told Newshub there are several factors contributing to the price differences. The spokesperson said it's hard to compare differences because "there are lots of factors that go into food and grocery prices in Aotearoa".

"We know how important price is to Kiwis and our aim is always to provide the best value we can.
"The main driver is how much we pay a supplier, and in the last six or seven months, we’ve had more requests for food price increases from our suppliers than we had in the last year.

"There are also other factors that could be at play too, like products which do or don’t have GST added in Australia vs New Zealand, how much it costs to get food to New Zealand, and the cost to us and our suppliers to distribute it around, both of which are seeing significant cost pressures at the moment."

Foodstuffs, which owns PaknSave and New World, has been contacted for comment. 

It comes after a Commerce Commission found competition in the grocery sector is "not working well for New Zealand consumers" with smaller retailers unable to compete effectively against the two main players - Woolworths NZ and Foodstuffs. 

Among a range of proposals for the Government to consider, the commission has recommended changing planning laws to free up land for new grocery stores, introducing a code of conduct for relationships with suppliers, and establishing an industry regulator.

However, the commission has stopped short of suggesting splitting up the two dominant retailers and creating a third major retailer. It believes addressing land issues and improving access to wholesale supply will be effective in stimulating competition and allowing new firms from entering the sector.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark responded to the report earlier in the month, saying the Government would "immediately progress work to address the Commission’s recommendations".

The Government asked the commission in November 2020 to examine the $22 billion sector and the factors affecting competition within it. 

The commission recommends:

  • "Making more land available for new grocery stores, by changing planning laws to free up sites, banning the use of restrictive land covenants and exclusivity clauses in leases that prevent retail grocery stores from being developed, and monitoring land banking by the major grocery retailers
  • "Improving access to the wholesale supply of a wide range of groceries at competitive prices, by regulating to require the major grocery retailers to fairly consider any requests they receive to supply competitors, and requiring the criteria for obtaining supply and terms and conditions of supply to be transparent
  • "Monitoring strategic conduct by the major grocery retailers, such as the use of ‘best price’ clauses and exclusive supply agreements."
  • All prices were compared on March 25, 2022.