Image of two paper shoping bags filled with groceries, including bananas, a cabbage and apples

The Outlier’s Grocery Basket: A year in review

  • We’ve added spaghetti, peanut butter, oats and tea to our monthly grocery basket
  • The price of sugar has increased by 18% on average since June 2022
  • The sunflower oil price has stabilised after a tumultuous 2022

We have been doing our monthly grocery comparison for a year and since June 2022 a lot has changed. We started out comparing the prices of nine basic goods across four retailers: Woolworths, Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar. That has now doubled to eight retailers with the addition of Food Lover’s Market, Shoprite, Boxer and Makro.

Resources: Previous reports, methodology and a full price-comparison table

As more retailers were added to the survey, we’ve had to tweak our shopping list as it was becoming difficult to find comparable products across the different stores. As of June 2023, for example, we’re no longer comparing the price of a 9-pack of two-ply toilet paper. Instead, we’ve added four new items to the basket, bringing it to a total of 12 items.

Shopping list

  • 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

New additions

  • 500g Fatti’s & Moni’s spaghetti, or store brand
  • 400g smooth Black Cat peanut butter
  • 1kg Jungle Oats
  • 100 Joko tagless teabags

June’s basket

This month, based on our new basket of 12 staple items, Pick n Pay’s was the most expensive at R505.88. For the third month in a row, Makro’s basket emerged as the cheapest option at R450.99.

June 2023 grocery basket

An arm and a leg

Although we’ve only been doing this comparison for 12 months, some prices have changed dramatically since we started.

In June 2022, the average price of a 2kg bag of Selati white sugar was R52.74. It has increased by 18% and the average price is now R62.23.

At some retailers, the price went up significantly between May and June. This brand of sugar was most expensive at Checkers and Shoprite in June, costing R69.99 for the 2.5kg bag.

The price surge stems from substantial increases that were passed on by the South African Sugar Association to all producers and customers due to cost pressures, according to an email reply from the Woolworths press office. The association said it could not respond to our questions.

The price of a 2kg packet of Tastic rice has also increased significantly. A year ago it had an average cost of R35.74 between four retailers, now it costs an average of R41.36 between eight retailers.

That’s R5.62 more and a 16% increase over 12 months. In May, the annual consumer inflation rate was 6.3%.

Chart: Cooling inflation, 21 June 2023

Slippery slope

Going in the opposite direction is the price of store-brand sunflower oil. In July 2022, the average price of a 2-litre bottle of sunflower oil was R115.74 between the four stores we have the most data from – Woolworths, Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar.

Now, the average price is R83.24, a decrease of more than 28%.

Last year’s poor climate conditions meant poor harvests which resulted in retailers having to source vegetable oil internationally, leading to price hikes.

Chart: Sunflower oil prices continue to soar, 12 September 2022