Moneybags’ grocery basket comparison

As the cost of living continues to rise, experts are warning of further food price hikes later this year. Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood compares the cost of 12 basic grocery and household items at five local food retailers to see how the cost of these items differs across stores.

Below is a table of 12 food items comparing the cost at Pick n Pay, Woolworths, Spar, Checkers and Makro. Where possible, the in house brand was used, alternatively, the same brand was used across the different stores.

The prices

The below table provides details of the products compared and the cost of the items at the various stores, together with the total cost of the ‘basket’ of groceries.

(Click on tables below to enlarge and see entire table)

grocery table 1

grocery table 2

The items selected for comparison were chosen as they are either household basics, or items that are perceived to be expensive and/or necessary, such as nappies and tampons.

When comparing the cost of chicken breasts, the cost per kilogram was compared, as it was difficult to find packs of chicken that weighed the same to allow for accurate comparison.

Analysing the results

From the findings of Moneybag’s shopping excursion, Checkers came out on top as the cheapest retailer at R446.02 for the items compared. Woolworths was the most expensive at R619.56. That is a difference of R173.54 between the cheapest and most expensive store. In order of cheapest to most expensive, the stores ranked as follows:

  1. Checkers
  2. Spar
  3. Makro
  4. Pick n Pay
  5. Woolworths


From the items compared, it appears that the cost per kilogram of items is more expensive at Woolworths, as with the cost of other items compared. Despite Woolworths having the smallest cheese quantity compared, the block of cheese was still the second most expensive block. Pick n Pay’s cheese was the most expensive but it was also the largest block of cheese, which would have contributed to the higher price. However, when looking at the cost per kilogram of cheddar cheese at Pick n Pay, Checkers, Spar and Makro – Pick n Pay is the most expensive.

With regards to the cost of chicken, Woolworths far exceeded the other stores with a cost of R136.99 per kilogram, followed by Pick n Pay at R92.99 per kilogram. Checkers was by far the cheapest at R49.99 per kilogram, more than 50% cheaper than Woolworths.

And if ever there was a time to introduce the abolition of the tampon tax it would be now because at the time of writing all the major stores surveyed charged more than R28 for a pack of Lil-lets (16), except for Checkers, which charged R19.99.

However, despite Checkers being the cheapest store overall, not all of the items compared were cheaper at Checkers. For example, a one kilogram bag of Selati white sugar cost R13.53 at Makro, compared to the R16.99 charged by Checkers. Pick n Pay was also cheaper than Checkers at R13.99. This goes to show that just because a store is cheaper overall, doesn’t mean that all items in that store is cheaper.

Five ways to save money on groceries

  1. At times, the retailer’s own brand can be more expensive than the competition. This is why it’s so important to compare the price of the items on the shelf. Make sure you are comparing like for like, such as a box of 100 Kleenex tissues with a box of 100 No Name tissues from Pick n Pay.
  2. When looking at meat and other items sold on a per kilogram weighting, take note of the per kilogram cost, and not only the cost of the item you are looking at. While the specific pack of meat you are holding may appear reasonable, it may be the weight of the item that has reduced the cost.
  3. Look out for specials particularly for items that you use regularly. It is not a saving if you buy an item you never use when it is on special. Don’t forget to compare prices at another store – just because the item is on sale in one store, doesn’t mean that it can’t be cheaper somewhere else.
  4. By comparing prices at various stores you will get a better understanding of what the item costs, and an idea of where they are cheaper. However, this should be a task you carry out regularly, as food prices do increase, and what is cheaper in one store one month, may be more expensive at a different store the next month.
  5. Most stores offer customer rewards programmes. Many of these cost nothing to sign up to, yet offer you savings and deals on items that you purchase. Also look for other savings strategies that retailers adopt. While Pick n Pay, for example, was one of the more expensive stores their ‘Brand Match’ campaign does promise to knock money off your next shop if its comparison finds a cheaper deal elsewhere. The downside here is that Pick n Pay only compares 2,000 items and this may not include the items that you are buying. Brand Match also binds you into shopping at Pick n Pay as the coupon is not redeemable as cash – you have to redeem the coupon the next time you shop at Pick n Pay. To evaluate how your coupon was calculated, click here.


Moneybags contacted the retailers used in this comparison for their response to our findings. Click here for their comments.

Updated: 24/05/2016