Shopping around will help you to get over expensive hunger pangs
So is there anything you can do to avoid the pain of higher food prices? One worthwhile step is to split your shopping basket among different retailers.
Fans of Pringles for example should avoid buying the snacks in Spar, Eurospar and Centra, and instead stick to Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Superquinn and Supervalu. A 170g box of sour cream and onion Pringles costs €1.95 in Dunnes, Tesco and Supervalu, but between €2.36 and €2.50 in Eurospar, and as much as €2.89 in Spar, according to the latest grocery price survey by the consumer watchdog, the National Consumer Agency (NCA).
A 38-piece pack of Pampers nappies costs €9.99 in Dunnes, Tesco, Superquinn and Supervalu -- but you could pay as much as €12.69 in Spar.
The NCA survey -- which is available on www.consumerconnect.ie -- is certainly worth consulting when choosing where to split your shopping basket. The survey found that there was virtually no price difference between Dunnes and Tesco. Supervalu often matched some of the prices available in Dunnes and Tesco but convenience stores like Eurospar and Spar were often more expensive. If you haven't yet ventured to Aldi and Lidl, those supermarkets may be worth a trip as they can offer big savings on meat, fruit and vegetables. A 300g pack of Rich Tea for example will set you back 75c in Tesco but only 31c in Lidl, according to the survey. At 47c, a four-pack of yoghurts in Lidl was almost a fifth of the price charged by Aldi, and a quarter of that charged in Tesco.
If you can, avoid those food products which have been hit most by inflation. Some of those products where inflation has been less than 4 per cent include fresh fish, bacon, potatoes, tea, fresh fruit, vegetables, and sugar and sweeteners.
Don't be encouraged to spend more in a supermarket because it offers a loyalty card scheme. Savings under these schemes are minuscule and you usually have to spend a few hundred euro in the shop to qualify for vouchers.
With the Dunnes Stores Value Club, you must spend at least €400 in three months to qualify for its club vouchers. These vouchers can be put towards your next shopping bill. You earn €4 for every €400 spent -- which means you only save €1 for every €100 spent. With Tesco's Clubcard scheme, you need to spend at least €150 in three months to qualify for its vouchers.
You get a €1.50 voucher for each €150 saved -- again, a savings of about 0.01 per cent. With Superquinn's rewards card, you earn one point for every €1 spent. If you spend €100, you're entitled to a €1 discount off your shopping. Superquinn also has a One4all gift voucher scheme, where you can earn vouchers which can be spent in Argos, HMV and certain other retailers. You need at least 1500 points (€1,500 worth of shopping) to qualify for a €15 voucher -- the minimum One4All gift voucher value issued by Superquinn.