The Outlier’s Grocery Basket: May 2023

We started conducting our grocery basket comparison in June 2022 – and a lot has changed since then.

Most significantly, we have added more retailers, going from comparing just four to eight. While this has broadened our survey, it has also brought in some complications by adding different products and brands. We do our best to be as consistent and fair as possible, but there will inevitably be some … er … outliers.

Shopping list

Our grocery basket is made up of basic goods most people are likely to have in their homes and use every day.

The list looks like this

  • 700g loaf of Albany Superior sliced white bread, or store brand
  • 2-litre sunflower oil (cheapest option)
  • 2.5kg Iwisa maize meal
  • 2.5kg Selati white sugar
  • 2-litre milk (cheapest option)
  • 2kg Tastic rice
  • 2.5kg Snowflake cake flour
  • 175g bar of Dettol herbal soap
  • 9-pack of two-ply toilet paper (cheapest option)

What’s changed?

In May 2023, we switched over to the cheapest, most comparable sunflower oil, milk and toilet paper brands on offer at the different retailers. We did this because it had become increasingly difficult to compare the same brands between retailers. 

The brands of the other six items – bread, maize meal, white sugar, rice, cake flour and soap – have stayed exactly the same.

May’s basket

Here’s the comparison for the month of May 2023

The toilet paper debate

When we started this list, we compared the prices of BabySoft 18-pack of two-ply toilet paper between retailers. But some of our readers felt that the 18-pack was too big, so we listened and switched to the 9-pack instead.

But after more retailers such as Food Lover’s Market, Shoprite, Boxer and Makro asked to be part of the comparison, we realised that not all stores stocked BabySoft. 

To keep all eight retailers on the list, and to make it easier to add more retailers in the future, we had to change our methodology. We now use the cheapest and most comparable 9-pack of two-ply toilet paper on offer.  

Read more about our methodology

When we did our May 2023 shop, some stores did have much cheaper options available, some as much as R40 cheaper. Spar had a R49 pack by a brand called Royalty, and Boxer had a R44,99 option by Kitten Soft. These brands were significantly cheaper than the others, which were all priced within a similar range. As the two brands are not widely available, even at other branches of the same retailer, we excluded them. 

Why we do this comparison

We compare the prices of nine products from different retailers to look at what a basket of basic goods costs the South African consumer. We then rank the retailers from most expensive to the cheapest, based only on the goods on our list.

We also plan to look at how these prices have increased over time. 

What we don’t do

We aren’t telling our readers which is the cheapest and most expensive retailer in the country. Our list only looks at nine staple items. There are thousands more, of course. 


This story was edited on 29 June 2023 to update editorial style. No material changes were made