Consumer prices are falling quite dramatically in the Irish grocery sector according to Retail Ireland.
Pointing to new independent research from Grant Thornton’s Retail Division, which compared the prices of groceries at Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, SuperValu and Dunnes Stores, Thomas Burke from Retail Ireland said the findings confirm some of the trends the group have noticed recently.
"Irish consumer prices are falling quite dramatically, particularly in the grocery sector and that has been happening now for a number of years.
"That is bringing its own challenges to retailers but it is driven by consumer demand and the level of intense competition that exists within the grocery sector
"When we do analysis and look at the performance of various sectors we can see the Irish grocery sector is the most competitive of them all."
Damian Gleeson, Head of Retail, at Grant Thornton said the research focused on the five major supermarkets which account for nearly 90% of Irish grocery spend.
The sample grocery basket consisted of 62 items, randomly selected by Grant Thornton, and was found to cost on average €65.04 in Aldi, €65.53 in Lidl, €76.54 in Tesco, €80.74 in Dunnes Stores and €95.50 in SuperValu.
The random sample of products included strawberry jam, fresh cream, honey, ice-cream, rice, orange juice, cheese, yoghurt, soda bread and a wide range of fruit and vegetables including cucumbers, mushrooms, apples and broccoli.
The survey is the first comprehensive independent audit of prices at the major supermarkets since the National Consumer Agency’s July 2009 grocery market survey and to ensure accurate results and the comparison of like for like products, it focused wherever possible on mid-range own-brand products and weights were adjusted to ensure they were comparable.
"We made a random selection of a basket of 62 items from the most popular purchased lines. We found that there are huge differences in pricing of similar comparable products across the board, with significant savings to be made by consumers ..." Mr Gleeson said.
Reacting to the survey findings this morning SuperValu, in a statement, said it had some fundamental questions with regard to the price comparison survey and also pointed out that the survey was conducted by Grant Thornton on behalf of ALDI.
"Despite requesting the data that the survey is based on and the dates that the research took place on from Grant Thornton this morning, we have not received a response as yet.
"It is unclear which products were used in comparisons and whether those comparisons were valid. For instance the press release mentions a price of Cherry Tomatoes 500g that were sold in SuperValu for €4.98. In fact we have a 500g Cherry Tomato comparison product at €1.58. For this reason we would question the validity of the comparisons used.
The statement went on: "Similarly, the report makes reference to money off vouchers from another grocery retailer, but does not reference our voucher offer that is currently live where shoppers can avail of up to €16 off a grocery basket of €80 dependent on the level of vouchers they have redeemed through our Real Rewards loyalty programme.
"As a result some of the media reports being discussed this morning are misleading as they do not give an accurate comparison of prices.
The statement concluded: "Any grocery retailer can select a basket of goods from their store shelves, which shows that they provide better value than their competitors. A basket of 62 products is not representative of the value on offer in store at SuperValu where we have over 20,000 products on sale, a multiple of what the discounters offer.
"Similar to what was issued this morning SuperValu could present a list of 62 products that show us as the same price/ cheaper than ALDI.
"The question of when this survey was conducted also remains outstanding as prices vary from week to week due to promotional offers and price cuts.
"A comprehensive survey of the Irish grocery market using just 62 products is clearly not representative of the full story. Shoppers know that SuperValu offers the best combination of value, customer service and quality fresh food in the Irish market. Key to the SuperValu offer is the level of support that we give to Irish suppliers and communities across the country."
- Digital Desk