Supermarkets behaving badly

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It seems as though all the big supermarkets have made the news this week and not necessarily for the right reasons.

Coles
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has declared eggs produced in intensive farms do not deserve the label ‘free range’. Coles’s new standard for free range eggs is 10,000 hens per hectare, almost seven times less space than is recommended in the voluntary guidelines. The ACCC believes that this redefinition of ‘free range’ has “the very real possibility of misleading consumers”.

Find out more about Coles redefining ‘free range’

Woolworths
Woolworths is under scrutiny by the consumer watchdog, which is investigating potential breaches of competition laws including “misuse of market power” and “unconscionable conduct”. In order to fight back, Woolworths has put together a report which states it does not, in fact, hold the market power the consumer watchdog claims. Woolworths has suggested that it is unfair to only compare it to other big retailers such as Coles and Aldi.

In 2008 the consumer watchdog estimated Woolworths market share at 45 per cent, with Coles at 33 per cent and, according to a Neilson report, Aldi at 7 per cent. In the new report, put together by Woolworths, the supermarket giant explains that when you include smaller businesses, such as green grocers and bakeries, it only holds 28 per cent of the market.

In an unrelated story, it has been claimed that a live frog was found in a sealed bag of Woolworths ‘washed and ready to eat’ salad mix over the weekend.

Get the facts on just how much of the market Woolworths owns, or read more about the frog story.  

Aldi
A number of suppliers have come out and said that they prefer Aldi over Woolworths and Coles. They said that Aldi paid its invoices more quickly and was easier to deal with. One of the suppliers said that Coles and Woolworths reduced supplier prices and took an extra three per cent to cover marketing costs, where Aldi absorbs these costs into its own profit margin. Suppliers also say that Aldi pays a premium to buy Australian for its private label products and only asks suppliers to compete against other Australian supplier prices, unlike Coles and Woolworths who bring international suppliers into the mix.

Read what else suppliers have to say about Aldi


Opinion – Boycotting the big names

No wonder Woolworths is saying that it is under pressure from German chain Aldi. While Coles and Woolworths have to jump through hoops just to reign in the increasingly negative news reports, suppliers are coming out of their own volition to praise Aldi’s conduct.

Woolworths has 690 stores in the eastern states and Coles has 533, so when Woolworths claims that Aldi is planning to increase from its current 289 stores to 600 over the next seven years, it is difficult to be sympathetic.

This sort of competition is not only healthy, it is the only way to ensure that Australian prices stay down, produce quality stays up and suppliers have options so that they can’t be railroaded into increasingly poor deals. Coles and Woolworths are the ones who started the $1 milk debacle – I for one am very happy to see Aldi stepping up and offering the big supermarket chains a bit of competition.

Do you still shop at Woolworths or Coles? Would you shop somewhere else if you had the option, or are those big supermarkets just too convenient?

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96 Comments

Total Comments: 96
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    never shop at either Coles or Woolworths. I’m an Aldi shopper for the large shops and I top up at my local IGA between big shops. This works for me because I live 30 odd k’s from a major town and I only go to Aldi when needed and use IGA for the interim shop as well as the local butcher and bakery.

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    Taken us a while, but we can now announce that we buy more from Aldi than Woolies and Coles.
    Yeeeay!!!
    Quality is excellent and range is slowly improving.

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    LifeChoices Posters: Have a good laugh, although it is serious too. The commentary by Rachel above asks us to click on “the frog story”. It is so funny reading the comments after a customer bought a sealed bag of fresh salad from Woolies and found a live frog in the packaging. I would say, don’t eat your sealed packages of salads anymore as Woolies is claiming that the salad is fresh and has already been washed!!! Gosh there are some “respected” supermarkets that “stretch the truth”, it’s not just the politicians.

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    I live more than 30ks from large shops as well but the Local IGA is sooooooooo much more expensive on most items the only time it is suitable is when they have their market day and/or very few specials. I have discovered Aldi but they do not have my full complement of required items so need to go to Woolies anyway – If I have time I’ll go to both but if pressed I’ll just go to Woolies – I know a lot of things are more pricey but when you have a problem with walking getting in and out of cars etc you just want to make one trip/shop. I buy ingredients not pre-packed processed stuff, shame local suppliers are left out and they import produce from who knows where. Fruit is kept too cold and it goes off as soon as you get home and not refrigerated – fruit needs to ripen naturally that’s why it has no taste sometimes. We are at the mercy of the big wigs unfortunately.

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    Since Aldi have been here –last October–I have yet to be impressed by them as their stuff is mostly from O/S anyway–and I do TRY and buy Aussie stuff –like Dick Smith–Aldi doesn’t seem to have that. Also Aldi DO NOT have a way of contacting them via phone Other than if you ring a head office in a capitol city !? IF you want to ask a question they should at least have a 1300 number. They also charge if you wish to use a credit card. No not impressed at all.

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      You’re right about not having a phone number PlanB – even media outlets have to write to the Aldie head office to ask for information or quotes.

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      Very true PlanB – and while I still tend to shop at Aldi, might I also add that their products are often inferior in many ways. While it might seem to many customers that price is the main gain, it’s not all beer and skittles. People need to be aware that many items are considerably less in quailty and in particular – net weight – compared to other packaged goods in stores such as Woolworths or Coles, so the cost saving is sometimes erroneous.

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      Aldi have forced the big 2 to show pricing per unit, eg per 100gm, so comparison is easy now. Some of Aldi’s stuff is not as good, but we try it and then decide whether we’ll stick with it. Aldi’s special goods buys are excellent value (a $100 TV is still fine after 8 years, my fold-up $89 bike is excellent) and there are no questions asked if you take anything back – instant refund or replacement!

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      If you are in a position (as I am fortunate enough to be) you will find that all Aldi stores are not created equal. There is definitely a good management issue and I have now found an Aldi which is always well-stocked. As to the credit card issue – Woolworths and Coles build the cost of using a credit card into their prices (as with everything). I use a debit card at Aldi – if I don’t have the money in the bank I don’t spend!!

      @Ductape – your ‘fresh’ produce will always be inferior at a supermarket. I will never buy fresh from them. Having been part of a cooperative and bought fresh from the Sydney markets I know how far ahead Woolworths purchase their fruit and vegetables. Use a greengrocer if you can, or buy frozen veges – much better than fresh anyway.

      @pamelafro – it was not Aldi that forced the big 2 into unit pricing, 25 years ago consumer groups were pushing for unit pricing which had been introduced in Europe long before. It was pressure from them that brought it about eventually, Aldi was just happy to comply while Woolworths and Coles took ages to get their act together.

      We are very poorly served by our two major supermarkets. The situation in the UK is far superior with greater competition but I would say that we are probably much better off than they are in terms of the quality of our fresh products.

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      In reply to ‘pamelafro’…….

      Pamelafo, do you find it a little embarrassing as you hold up the que whilst explaining your case for a replacement product or asking for your money back – to the only checkout operator on duty at the time – ’cause I do?

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      Sorry I forgit – it’s queue not que. @ Vaycee – I have to agree with your comment.

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    Coles and Woolworths have completely lost me, and my family.
    We will not shop there under any circumstance, as we have found there goods etc are not as good as IGA, or ALDI.
    Many or my friends who did shop at Woolworths or Coles have told me that they are sick of buying foodstuffs, and fruit and vegetables at these stores that are poor value or have gone off.

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    Yes I agree I HATE the big 2 as well but do not like Aldi at all–at least I can get SOME Aussie stuff at Woolies

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      The issue of Australian is not as obvious at Aldi but I can assure you that there is a greater proportion of Australian products than you would be aware of. You will probably find that those products that are not Australian are also source ex-Australia in the other supermarkets.

      Most of the yoghurt and cheese products are Australian as is the milk obviously, but so are many of the other products on the shelf which are supplied by well-known Australian companies

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    I guess the frog must mean it is fresh! Alive and kicking by the sounds of it. Can’t have been trapped in the salad bag for too long eh?

  9. 0
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    I’m lucky enough to have an Aldi and a Coles next to each other. Woolies is in another part of town.
    Whatever specials Aldi and Coles have on fruit and veg the other one drops their everyday prices to the specials price, so it is a win for the consumer.
    So, Woolies has the highest profit margins and I know that would apply in my town as we have a very large fish market next to “big” Woolies and when purchasing fish I always go into Woolies to compare their prices on their products. We have a situation where at one end of town we have “big” Woolies and the other end “little” Woolies. When you ask them why “little” Woolies prices are so much higher than the other one, the standard answer is because of transport costs in delivering the goods???? How can that be, when it’s the same street, the same town? Because one is big and one is little I would think maybe they are classified differently. Little Woolies is the IGA in disguise!
    I prefer to deal with Aldi rather than the other two, they are efficient in stocking, quick in service, reasonably priced and there are just some items you would never now purchase in Woolies/Coles such as tissues, toilet rolls, all paper products, and lots more.
    No wonder Woolies is getting anxious about another 600 Aldi stores to open, they should be very anxious indeed.

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    LOL Egyptian, love it – at least the frog hopefully survived. I know if it had ended up in my place my grandkids would have made yet another pet of it!!

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      No, Reppie the article says it was alive but died soon after. The person who found the frog in the salad pack posted his complaint on Woolies Facebook page. So it went wild with comments. Another comment regarding the frog was: Good job you didn’t eat it, you might have croacked it.

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