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Disgruntled Woolworths' shopper exposes 'surcharge' facing millions of Aussies

As food prices rise, some Australian consumers are hit with an extra challenge at the checkout.

Woolworths groceries
The Woolworths shopper was astonished that his basic shop came to a total price of $100. (Source: Reddit)

A disgruntled Woolworths shopper has voiced his outrage at the price of his modest grocery shop, which was made all the more expensive due to his dietary requirements, which are shared by millions of Aussies.

With just 13 everyday items in his shopping cart, the bill amounted to a staggering $100, prompting the man to vent his frustration on Reddit. "Unf**kingbelievable," he captioned a photo of his purchase.

After some debate over his "premium" food choices, the customer revealed he has coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and causes painful reactions upon eating gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. As a result, he can only buy gluten-free products, which typically cost more than regular items.

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Fellow coeliacs echoed the man's grievances.

"As a person with coeliac, these prices f**king suck," one Reddit user commented.

"It does. I'm poor. And we NEED to eat GF [gluten-free]," another responded.

Gluten-free 'surcharge'

The original poster went on to say how hard it was to buy affordable gluten-free foods, claiming costs had only increased as they'd become more available.

"Over the last two decades, it's gotten easier to eat stuff, but more expensive to do so. I get hammered with surcharges that I don't get to choose," he explained.

He's not wrong. A pack of six gluten-free tortillas, which was included in his purchase, currently costs $6 at Woolworths, while six regular tortillas cost just $4. Also in his shop was a 350g box of Sultana Bran, which costs $7 at Woolies, while a 420g box of regular Sultana Bran costs the same amount.

Woolworths tortillas
Gluten-free options are usually more expensive, as is the case with these popular packs of tortillas sold at Woolies. (Source: Woolworths)

Why gluten-free is more expensive

Around one in 70 Australians have coeliac disease according to Coeliac Australia, while a further 11 per cent follow a gluten-free diet, meaning almost 3 million people in the country are paying extra at the supermarket checkout.

Back in 2016, University of Wollongong researchers found gluten-free households spent 17 per cent more on groceries than their gluten-eating counterparts. And the gap hasn't decreased in the years since.

The reason gluten-free items are more expensive, according to financial-comparison site Mozo, is that manufacturers outlay extra funds for dedicated facilities to produce them, and retailers aren't incentivised to keep prices low for a relatively small slice of the market. Some gluten-free foods, such as bread, also require more ingredients, increasing production costs.

How to get discounts at Woolies

There is some good news for coeliacs, however. A membership with Coeliac Australia provides access to a range of discounts and special offers when dining out and shopping at participating businesses across Australia.

Woolworths is the official supermarket partner of Coeliac Australia, giving members a 5 per cent discount off participating gluten-free products at Woolies supermarkets, online and participating Woolworths Metro stores. Discounts of that size won't completely close the price gap but can shave a few dollars off a grocery haul.

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