Tagged With house brands


On January 26, 2011, grocery retailer Coles fired the first salvo in what would soon be dubbed the "supermarket price wars" by reducing the price of its own-brand milk to $1 per litre. Woolworths immediately responded.


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.


Dear Lifehacker, After a recent argument with the rest of my family over the purchase of various no-name groceries from supermarkets, I wondered: What are the off-limit items where house brand goods just doesn't cut it? Any advice? Thanks, Smarting Shopper


Woolworths is introducing a new round of permanent price cuts on some of its more popular lines, maintaining its ongoing war with Coles to claim your food-spending dollar. Those reductions will be welcome if they cover products you regularly buy, but careful shopping and a sensible choice of store brands remains your best weapon to cut your supermarket bill.


Supermarket house brands now account for as much of a quarter of all the goods sold in the big two Australian supermarkets, Woolworths and Coles. But does that mean we'll soon have no choice but to buy those brands?


Australians buy house brand products like Woolworths Home Brand and Coles Smart Buy in huge quantities, but they're far from universally popular. One common objection to them is that they're more likely to be imports than to be made in Australia. A study of 360 products by CHOICE suggests that's true, with just 38 per cent of Woolworths store brand products and 55 per cent of those sold by Coles being locally made or grown.


The question of whether Australia's major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, have too much power or are trying to control what brands we buy is rarely out of the media. But as former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Graeme Samuel points out, much of the discussion is driven by vested interests and doesn't necessarily reflect our interests as consumers. And he argues persuasively against the notion that store brand goods will dominate our shopping habits in the future.


Woolworths has said it plans to double the number of house brands it sells through its supermarkets, reigniting the longstanding battle between those who favour the cheaper prices that house brands bring and those who feel their range of choice is stifled as supermarkets favour their own products over others. But which house brand goods have the biggest market share?