Supermarket Wars: The 85 Cent Loaf Of Bread

For many years, Australia's supermarkets tacitly agreed that the cheapest loaf of bread for sale would be a 650 gram white loaf for $1. Now Woolworths and Coles have decided that's apparently too expensive, and are selling that same white loaf for 85 cents.

The strategy marks an interesting shift for Woolworths. When we did a round-up of stuff you could be in supermarkets for less than $1 in early July, Woolworths was selling its Home Brand white loaf for $1.15 — 15 cents more than Coles, and 16 cents more than ALDI. Within a few days of that study, Woolworths smartened up its price-matching act a little, and took its basic white loaf pricing back down to $1. This latest drop means that that loaf has dropped in price by 26 per cent in just three months.

When I checked Coles and ALDI over the weekend, both had stuck with their $1/$0.99 pricing. However, it appears that Coles has now matched the Woolworths price.

None of this will make any difference to your shopping if you prefer your bread fresh-baked or multigrain. And even if you do regularly and happily consume basic white loaves, that 15 cent saving isn't going to let you buy something else straight away. (The only thing you could conceivably buy for 15 cents in a supermarket these days would be a tiny quantity of vegetables, nuts or deli produce.)

Over the course of a year, if you purchased one loaf a week from Woolworths or Coles, you'd save $7.80 with this new price. If you're on a tight budget, every cent counts (and you might be happy eating a lot of toast sandwiches).

The other contentious aspect of super-cheap supermarket food is the claim that the major chains make it impossible for independent providers to compete, forcing them to sell products to the supermarkets at unsustainable prices. That argument is going to be tested in a court case between the ACCC and Coles.

Update: Corrected article for weight at Woolworths and Coles, which is in fact 650 grams.


Comments

    You get what you pay for, and in my opinion supermarket made bread was not the best quality in the first place..!

    Last edited 22/09/14 9:34 am

      Yep as someone who almost exclusively buys this version of bread I wholeheartedly agree. It's quality is noticeably less than the branded basic white breads, my personal favourite bread (Buttercup Country Split), and then the more premium breads, breads from bakeries etc.

      The reason I buy it? The additional cost is rarely worth the increased quality for me. That's just basic economics (subjective preferences) and the answer will be different for others. It doesn't make me a smarter shopper or other people silly shoppers.

      ...then again, I could really go some Country Split right now and all I have is homebrand. DAMMIT!

      Last edited 22/09/14 3:20 pm

    I dont buy the cheaper versions, they're terrible. I'd rather dish out the 2.70 for their better bigger versions, and when possible grab the Helga/Abbotts Village breads when they're on half price sales. While its nice to know that bread can be bought for 85c, it wouldnt be something I'd purchase unless I was having a kids party.

    So that would be why there was no Wonder white bread on the shelves. Goodman Fielder has probably been busy churning out this stuff instead.

    I don't understand why people would buy processed bread in the fist place. Nothing beats freshly baked bread from a bakery, Not a factory.

    Last edited 22/09/14 4:00 pm

      Subjective preferences. I could understand why people would buy freshly baked bread from a bakery. It seems strange to me that the converse could not be understood by someone.

      Last edited 22/09/14 3:21 pm

        Because there appears to be no benefit to in store bread that I can see over fresh bakery bread (aside from the convienience).

        You have more additives preservatives in store bread. Specialty bread (ie Helgas) which promote authenticity are still mass produced in a factory. Just like your spring water is coming out of a tap.

        IF you are worried about it going mouldy quicker. Then chuck it in the freezer the day you get it. It will maintain that freshness for a lot longer then the preservative rich store bought bread.

          I feel like price, additives, and preservatives all fall into that subjective preferences category.

          For me additives and preservatives are a pro. For you the appear to be a negative.

          I'd be shocked if bakeries were cheaper but if they are that IS a game changer. I will check that out actually just on the basis of your zealotry. It occurs to me I've never really bothered to look before.

            I should add a disclaimer here: I grew up with store bought bread. Met my wife who worked at a bakery and we bought it form there ever since. When we moved towns we found a good bakery and got their bread.

            The key is to find a good bakery. There can be differences in their technique that make all the difference.

          *raises hand*

          Simply don't care enough about any of those factors you mentioned to pay double or triple for bread I'm not even going to finish a whole loaf of. Bread for its own sake doesn't happen - it makes me bloaty and queasy.

          The only use I ever get out of a loaf of bread is either as a toasted delivery medium for spreads (eg: avocado), where I want it to be as thin and unnoticable as possible, or wrapped around a BBQ sausage and drowned in sauce. Again, thinness is a bonus. So many of these supposedly 'better' breads are so damn thick-sliced, I really don't understand the appeal of them.

          Last edited 23/09/14 4:46 pm

    Helga's FTW! Even at over $5 a loaf when not on sale, this bread is worth it. If you see it on special at half price, stock up and freeze it. I don't care if the supermarkets are selling their bread for .10c a loaf, I would rather buy the good stuff.

    I know a lot of people can't afford it most of the time, but I don't think this "Price War" will change the minds of most people who buy the good stuff.

      My parents are really into Helga's but I've never really seen sufficient increase in utility myself. Even if I were to go some premium bread it wouldn't be Helga's.

    @ricadam because people have kids and need to budget for stuff and freeze stuff so its easier to grab the "processed" bread in bulk and stick it in the chest freezer for the week otherwise people are in and out of shops all week buying stuff like bread and milk

      I freeze my bakery bread and it's still just as good.

      A quick search of the processed variety on the woolies site shows that (aside from the above) they seem to hover around the same price as the freshly baked stuff.

      If you want a further discount go and talk to your local bakery for bulk prices and/or grab their day old stuff (usually solde for half, if not more, then normal price).

        Re price - That's interesting. Thanks for the tips I'll have a look.

    I've found the quality of supermarket bread to be lacking for a long time now. Even in a bread container the stuffs going mouldy in less than a week. It's essentially best suited to high volume bread eaters where it's virtually all consumed in just a few days.
    Even if it's 3 to 4 time the price you can't beat you're local bakery for quality, not to mention have the bread last at minimum a week before needing to freeze or discard.

      I too subjectively feel that bread goes mouldy a lot faster than when I was a kid. I'm not sure how true that is though and how much is merely one of the following:

      * rosy retrospection
      * changed bread quality purchasing habits
      * changed environment

    I also freeze my local bakery bread. I buy two loaves at a time (my bakery does a deal) and freeze both immediately. To use, I just put a couple of slices in the microwave for 15 or so seconds, or let it defrost at room temperature.

    I'd prefer to see the major supermarkets fighting it out by offering a quality wholesome bread for a competitive price, rather than the nasty stuff that I only ever eat when it comes with my Bunnings sausage on a Saturday/Sunday.

    I've been advised by someone in the know that Coles have dropped the weight of their bread down from 700g to 650g. That's only about a 7% decrease in size, compared to a 15% drop in price, but I think it's still worth mentioning. (would be good if someone could confirm)

      Last time I checked, 680gm was the weight of the cheapest store-brand bread at all three supermarkets. (The baked-in-store unlabelled loaves might well be 700gm IIRC, but they were never on sale for $1). Update: but checking on the linked Coles pic from OzBargain does suggest it's now 650gm there as well.

    As someone who has to buy 10 loafs of bread twice a week (my wife runs a childcare centre which supplies meals) this is a god send!!

    I've switched to an all bread diet, saving heaps

    Last edited 22/09/14 4:25 pm

    Homebrand bread is made by Tip Top in WA

    $1.20 freshly made from the local market. No way does the house brand cheapo bread compare.

    What you save in money now, you pay for in healthcare costs later in life.

    my take is that Coles and Woolworths are reducing the cost of the 'core' items in your average shopping trolley used to calculate CPI increases. Over the last 5 years theres been huge inflation in supermarkets, the cheaper milk, bread and eggs is just a way to hide the real costs of shopping for food.

    Bread like this is just awful. You definitely get what we pay for.

    I generally pay $2 a loaf for fresh-baked wholemeal at Coles. It's worth every cent.

    I agree with most comments. Love bakery bread. but when you feed 8 kids and 2 adults. 85c bread is the best especially when the kids take the crusts off and don't eat all of it.
    Two loaves of bread a day @85c each compared to $5-$8 a day.
    All adds up.

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