Sneaky supermarket underachiever delivering savings

It seems a supermarket staple is having its time in the sun as people grapple with the rising cost of living.

And the winners are home brands. These solid underachievers are making a comeback as people accept that sometimes a tissue is just a tissue and all the fancy packaging in the world isn’t going to change that.

If you have shunned home brands because of your early experiences, that’s understandable.

There were some absolute shockers out there 30 years or so ago when they were introduced.

Some lines were fine – many of the dishwashing liquids were just watered-down Morning Fresh for instance – but some you wouldn’t give to a robber’s dog. The Black and Gold toothpaste of the ’90s was nothing short of carbolic acid in a tube.

Focus on quality

Anyway, the supermarkets rethought their tactics and instead of plain packaging and basement prices, they brought out their own lines and put a bit of effort into the ingredients.

Grocery consultant Mark Field told The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) there has been a shift in how Australian retailers think about their own brand space. 

“There has been a significant focus on quality,” he said.

“There has been a real focus on understanding the quality of the products in the market from a branded [product] perspective, to make private labels at least equivalent to those brands, and make sure they are priced competitively.”

And that’s paying off big time right now as we all count our savings.

According to the SMH, Coles’ exclusive brands jumped by 11.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, representing $2.9 billion in sales. Woolworths’ own brands jumped by 9.1 per cent, with some lines such as pantry staples and dairy increasing by as much as 20 per cent.

“We’ve been growing own brand faster than total sales for quite some time now – it has been a key part of our strategy to do that,” outgoing Coles chief executive Steven Cain said.

“If you take one category that’s done particularly well, I’d point to pasta … own brand pasta sales are up 40 per cent year-on-year.”

This week’s best deals


Sensible: Ski sale. It’s here folks, the cult favourite is back after an absence last year. The anticipation is a bit bonkers. Online Aldi appreciation groups are already cracking out the running shoes and swapping tactics to get to the best bargains. Like the Hunger Games, but with puffer jackets. May the odds be ever in your favour.

Indulgence: South African foods. Is this its own cuisine? All I can think of is biltong and those snail sausages. Anyway, if you have a hankering for Ouma Condensed Milk Rusks and Wilson’s Cream Caramels and a bunch of other SA delights Aldi has them this week. And yes, man-cured biltong apparently, whatever that means.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Coles Australian Navel Oranges, 3kg bag, $5.50. It’s a great paradox that the coldest months produce the sunniest fruit, the orange, and other related citrus fruits. Grab them now while they are at their best. And don’t ignore the Valencia when it comes in – it’s equally good, just a bit more green on the outside, which tends to put punters off.

Indulgence: Coles Australia Pork Loin Chops tray, $16, save $3. As lamb becomes more and more of an ambitious dream rather than a reality, pork is looking like a good alternative. I estimate a similar lamb tray would cost close to $25. Let’s face it, everything you can do to a lamb chop you can do to a pork chop. I’m happy to save almost $10 for that.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Botanica Reeds or Candles, half price $10. Scented candles are a sensible purchase and no-one can tell me otherwise. I have put a lot of people onto the vanilla and Himalayan magnolia, which is as good as many for triple the price.

Indulgence: Lindt chocolate blocks, half price, $2.75. While Lindt are a bit on the thin side, the quality is excellent for supermarket chocolate. I’m not much of a fan of dark chocolate, but I make an exception for Dark Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt.

See the catalogue here.


Sensible: Gravox Gravy or Sauce Mixes, $4.15, save $1.35. Gravy is yet another cooking process that, yes, I can make it myself, but, no, I don’t want to make it myself. Good to have on hand during roasting season.

Indulgence: Masterfoods Crushed Garlic, $2.75. I think, like every right-minded person, I recognise that freshly cut garlic is far superior to the jar kind. But, sometimes, you just want garlic without all the mess, so it’s always a good idea to have a jar of this lurking in the fridge somewhere.

See the catalogue here.

Do you buy any home brand products? Is price a factor? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?

Also read: Top foods to protect your brain

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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