What Vegemite teaches us about which supermarket is cheapest
Will Coles, ALDI or Woolworths come out on top?
Vegemite is becoming an Australian-owned brand again. To mark this evolution, I decided to investigate which of the big three supermarket chains (Woolworths, Coles and ALDI) sells Vegemite for the lowest price.
Vegemite makes for a solid comparison because it's one of the few brand-name products which ALDI actually sells, so we really are comparing like with like across all three stores. In practice, many of the store-brand goods sold by supermarkets are all produced in the same factory, but it's hard to determine whether that's true for individual products.
Note for pedants: yes, I'm sure the gigantic Costco tubs of Vegemite are cheaper again, but many of us still don't live anywhere near a Costco (or need that much Vegemite). And I didn't include IGA either, because pricing varies much more between stores, and because IGA often operates in areas the big chains have deemed unviable, meaning shoppers may not have much choice anyway.
The table below shows the regular prices for Vegemite at each of my local supermarkets last week (I visited all three on the same day). I've also shown the unit price per 100 grams. The table is sorted by unit price, but you can click on any of the headings to sort by store, price or product:
|Coles||Vegemite Cheesybite 270g||$5.10||$1.89|
|Woolworths||Vegemite Reduced Salt 235g||$4.70||$2.00|
|Coles||Vegemite Reduced Salt 235g||$4.70||$2.00|
|Woolworths||Vegemite Travel Pack 145g||$4.05||$2.79|
|Coles||Vegemite Travel Pack 145g||$4.05||$2.79|
Note that there is no single size of Vegemite which is sold by all three supermarket chains. Indeed, ALDI sells just a single Vegemite size (453 grams), which isn't available anywhere else. (In the past, ALDI has also sold its own Vegemite knock-off called Brekkie Mite, but that doesn't appear in its current range.) Woolworths has an exclusive on the 280 gram (and even proclaims as much on the label), while Coles appears to be the only chain selling the 220 gram size right now.
Beyond that, the general rules of smart shopping do seem to apply here:
- The bigger the quantity you buy, the cheaper the product is. Vegemite in a 560 gram jar has an effective unit price of $1.43 per 100 grams. If you go for the 145 gram "travel pack", you're paying close to twice as much ($2.79/100 grams). That price applies at both Woolworths and Coles; ALDI is slightly more expensive at $1.54 per 100 grams.
- Coles and Woolworths aggressively match prices on the sizes they do sell in common. Their prices are identical for 560 gram and 145 gram variants. Only with the 150 grams is there any difference, with Coles' $3.30 undercutting Woolworths' $3.35. For consumers, that level of price matching is good news, because it means that you don't have to spend time hunting in different supermarkets.
- Obviously, the cheapest time to buy Vegemite is when it's on sale, but you still need to compare. Recently, Woolworths was selling its 280 gram jar for $4 rather than $5. While that seems like a big saving, the effective unit price is $1.43 - the same as the 560 gram jar when it isn't on sale.
Finally, a warning: don't buy Vegemite Reduced Salt. That stuff just nasty.
Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.