Saturday, 2 August 2008

Latest salvo in the supermarket price war

Back to Blighty yesterday to be greeted by a full page ad in the Times (and probably other papers too) publicising Sainsbury’s ‘Big 5’ deals on fruit and veg. Which bears more than a fleeting resemblance to Aldi’s weekly fruit and veg promotion, the Aldi Super 6.

Could it be that the big boys are getting rattled by the migration of an increasing number of newly budget-conscious customers prepared to give the discounters a go? I suspect it could. According to recent figures from the market research company TNL Aldi’s sales increased over 20% in the 12 weeks to the 15th of June, giving it its highest ever share of the UK grocery market at just under 3%. Those sales have to be coming from somewhere.

How good are the Sainsbury’s bargains though? Well, as usual, a mixed bag. No-one could complain at 49p for a melon (20p less than Aldi’s) or 39p for a bag of radishes but new potatoes still sound expensive at 89p a bag (it doesn’t specify the weight)and berries may or may not be good value depending on whether you’re paying the 99p or £1.99p mentioned in the ad. Half price, as I've pointed out before, is not such a big deal if the price was excessive in the first place.

To put that in perspective here’s a list of prices my fellow blogger Signe Johansen spotted at the North End Market in London last weekend:

2 pineapples for £1
2 v.large bunches bananas for £1
9 lemons for £1
2lb cherries for £1
2 punnets of blackberries for £1
8 perfectly ripe apricots for £1
1 large watermelon for £1
3 galia melons for £1.20
2 large aubergines for £1

And some of you have pointed out even better bargains outside London.

So let’s have a ‘bargain of the week’ contest. Whoever comes up with the best deal this week gets a signed copy of my book The Frugal Cook when it’s published next month! Fire away . . .


Babs said...

My dad got half a carrier bag full of mushrooms for 50p from his local fruit and veg shop in Sunderland. A one off I'm sure.

Fiona Beckett said...

That is pretty amazing! What did he do with them?

Babs said...

I don't think he's sure what to do with them, apart from frying them or putting them on a pizza. He's not a great cook and I wouldn't be surprised if he lives off mushroom sandwiches for a couple of days!
If it was me, I think I'd just make a big pan of soup or pasta sauce.

Jean said...

My brother came to visit today with a 1kg bag of (frozen) prawns for me. He had bought one bag for £3 in a chinese supermarket in Liverpool and was told it was a 'buy one get one free' so I got the free one! I thought that was really cheap - they're nice big prawns too, not those little tiny things you see sometimes.

Fiona Beckett said...

that's a star bargain too, notsupermum! Tell me what you end up doing with them.

And yes, itmusthavebeensomethingIsaid, I'd be inclined to make loads of mushroom soup and pasta sauces too. And maybe mushroom duxelle, an intense mushroomy paste made from cooked down mushrooms and onions or mushroom caviar (see my post of May 25th)

Jean said...

Well so far, Fiona, my 8 year old daughter has eaten a big bowl of them with mayo, brown bread and butter (she LOVES fish and seafood); I've had a prawn sandwich for lunch, but I think a nice prawn risotto is on the cards for dinner sometime this week!

Fiona Beckett said...

Good for your daughter! It's funny what children will and won't eat. I've found a lot of kids recoil at meat on the bone like chops but will happily tuck in to mussels and chips.

Shey said...

I am quite fortunate in that my local Saturday market is right beside my local Sainsburys. On a Saturday I have taken to writing the current prices from mysupermarket down on my shopping list. I then compare prices at the market and get the best price.
90% of the time, the market wins out. I must admit to finding food shopping much more fun nowadays too. The thrill of the hunt puts an extra edge on shopping and getting a truly amazing bargain from the market makes me feel extremely smug.

Fiona Beckett said...

You're so right, Sheymouse! I always think it's a bit like spotting a brilliant bargain in a junk shop or on ebay. It's the thrill of the chase! Frugal shopping is much underrated.

Fiona Beckett said...

I think notsupermum (or, rather notsupermum's brother!) wins this one for 1 kg of prawns for £1.50. Signed book winging its way as soon as it's published! (Mail me your address to