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Coles and Woolworths grocery shop comparison: Which Aussie supermarket is cheaper?

Find out where you can save the most on your grocery shop.

Woolworths and Coles have announced temporary price drops to carry customers through the expensive Christmas period, but which one provides the cheaper grocery basket?

The price drops came through on Wednesday and Yahoo Finance decided to do a price comparison, which didn’t exclusively look at the 1,000 products in those specific promotions. So, after brainstorming, we came up with a reasonable shopping basket that could feed a family of four for at least a couple of days, along with some home essentials like cleaning products and toilet paper.

Here are the findings - which I think will come as a surprise.

Where can I save the most money on dinner?

DINNER: SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE

Spag bol is a classic, cheap-to-prepare meal with not too many ingredients. Being from a family of one right now, I benefit from being able to stack up leftovers to cover a few more meals during the week. However, I am aware this isn’t the case for those with ravenous teenagers or, say, someone doing more physical work than my desk-jockeying. So, I’ll let you decide how far this cook would take you. There will be some assumptions of pantry basics, like oil or salt and pepper.

Grocery items needed to make a spaghetti bolognese, showcasing different Coles and Woolworths branded products.
Coles and Woolworths go head to head on dinner. (Credit: Yahoo Finance)

The shop: 500 grams of pork and beef mince, 300 grams of spaghetti, one brown onion, jar of pasta sauce, and parmesan cheese.

Sauce

Coles: Mum's Sause Bolognese 500g - $3

Woolies: Macro Organic Pasta Sauce Chunky Bolognese 500g - $2.30

Cheaper: Woolies

Onion (approx 170g)

Coles: $3.70/kg = 67c

Woolies: No per-kg price online but 59c for individual

Cheaper: Woolies

Cheese

Coles: Grated Parmesan Cheese 100g bag - $2

Woolies: Essentials Parmesan Cheese 100g bag - $2.20

Cheaper: Coles

Pasta

Coles: Pasta Spaghetti 500g - 90c

Woolies: Pasta Spaghetti 500g - $1

Cheaper: Coles

OVERALL MEAL

Coles: $6.57

Woolworths: $6.09

Cheaper: Woolworths - but just

LUNCH: HAM/TUNA SALAD SANDWICH

It’s not the most inventive of lunches, I will admit. But a loaf of bread and some fresh salad can be another easy option. Plus, it gives us a bit to play with in terms of our grocery basket. To give some variation, I whacked in a couple of cans of tuna to keep it fresh. There are about 16 slices in a loaf so 8 sambos.

Grocery items needed to make ham or tuna salad sandwiches, showcasing different Coles and Woolworths branded products.
Coles and Woolworths go head to head on lunch.

The shop: 400 grams of deli ham, a loaf of bread, mayonnaise, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, can of beetroot. Two cans of flavoured tuna.

Bread

Coles: White Bread 650g - $2.40

Woolworths: White Soft Sandwich Bread 650g - $2.70

Cheaper: Coles

Ham (approx 400g)

Coles: Don Champagne Ham ($22.00/kg) - $8.80

Woolies: Champagne Leg Ham Shaved ($23.50/kg) - $9.28

Cheaper: Coles

Cucumber (approx 200 grams)

Coles: Lebanese cucumber ($3.90/kg) - 78c

Woolies: Lebanese cucumber - No price per kg but 52c for individual

Cheaper: Woolies

Tomato (approx 280 for 2)

Coles: Field Tomatoes Loose ($6.90/kg) - $1.93

Woolies: Fresh Tomato Each - No price per kg but 87c for individual - $1.74

Cheaper: Coles

Lettuce

Coles: 4 Leaf Salad Mix 120g bag - $2

Woolworths: Leafy Mix Salad 120g bag - $2

Cheaper: Same

Beetroot

Coles: Sliced Beetroot 425g can - $2.35

Woolworths: Woolworths Beetroot Sliced 425g can - $2.35

Cheaper: Same

Mayo

Coles: Traditional Mayonnaise 470g - $4.00 (85c per 100g)

Woolworths Whole Egg Mayonnaise 440g - $4.00 (91c per 100g)

Cheaper: Coles

Tuna (x2)

Coles: Coles Tuna Onion & Savoury Sauce 95g - $1.10

Woolworths: Tuna Tomato And Onion 95g - $1.10

Cheaper: Same

OVERALL MEAL

Coles: $26.39

Woolies: $24.79

Cheaper: Woolies - by the skin of its teeth

HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

There are a couple of things around the house you might not need every shop, but they are also unavoidable (at least I hope). It may be controversial, but I didn’t go with the cheapest loo roll on offer. But 3-ply was found to be a non-negotiable for many Aussies. And when I put it to the office, they agreed. Call me out of touch, but we have gone cheap in the rest of the basket.

Coles and Woolworths household essentials like toilet paper, bin bags and toothpaste.
Coles and Woolworths go head to head in household essentials. (Credit: Yahoo Finance)

Toilet paper

Coles: Quilton 3 Ply White Toilet Paper 20 pack - $11.00

Woolworths: Quilton Toilet Tissue 3 Ply White 180 Sheets 24 Pack - $13.60

Cheaper: This is one of those strange ones where there is a different number of items in each pack, but when you calculate both prices per sheet, it’s the same at 31c.

Toothpaste

Coles: Colgate Triple Action Toothpaste 165g - $3.50

Woolworths: Colgate Triple Action Toothpaste 165g - $3.50

Cheaper: Same

Multi-purpose spray

Coles: Ajax Spray N Wipe Lemon Citrus 5 in 1 Multi Purpose Cleaner Refill 750ml - $4.00

Woolies: Ajax Spray And Wipe Multipurpose Lavender & Citrus Refill 750ml - $4.00

Cheaper: Same

Bin bags

Coles: My Eco Bag Compostable Kitchen Bag Bin Liner 8L 25 pack - $4.70

Woolies: My Eco Bag Compostable Kitchen Bags Mini 8L 25 pack - $4.70

Cheaper: Same

OVERALL HAUL

Coles: $23.20

Woolworths: $25.80

Cheapest: I’ll have to go… same. The cost difference evens out in value with the discrepancy on toilet paper.

The verdict: Coles or Woolies?

Coles: $56.16

Woolworths: $56.68

The difference was mere cents. The results could have come out a bit different if we chose more brand-name products, but those searching for value are likely to opt for supermarket ones, which have undergone a facelift in both stores and are featuring more prominently on shelves.

But the fact the two ‘rivals’ could only produce slight differences exposes a major problem for Australian shoppers.

A Yahoo Finance analysis you can check out here found the dominance of Coles and Woolworths has “broken” the grocery market in Australia, and an expert has detailed exactly how more competition could result in far more savings for Aussies who are being hit from all angles with rising costs.

Ginger and lemons in Woolworths and a local grocer, showing large price differences.
Aussie shoppers are searching for competitive pricing as the cost of living remains high. (Credit: Reddit)

Do you have a story? Contact belinda.grantgeary@yahooinc.com

Aldi’s impact on the Australian market is case in point. The German supermarket chain - which prioritises low prices above technological changes, like getting into the online shopping market - claimed it saved Aussies who didn’t even shop there $675 million just by giving them a cheaper option and putting pressure on the big players to drop theirs if they want to keep their customers.

But it’s not just Aldi. Some Australians have shown the value they are finding shopping around.

One shared a wildly different price of ginger in the local grocer, $7.99/kg, compared to Woolies, $27/kg. Lemons were $3/kg at the grocer, and almost triple that at $8.90/kg in the big competitor.

That’s not saying Coles and Woolworths don’t offer specials, and you should absolutely take advantage of that, but more healthy competition could mean a broader reduction in costs.

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