- a blog about food and value

Supermarkets charge the same. Which is YOUR favourite, and why?

nca-logoVery little surprises in the latest National Consumer Agency price survey. Unsurprisingly and most significantly, there’s a negligible price difference between the big four supermarkets.

  • The cost of groceries has fallen by 14 per cent since January 2009 and the number of special offers has risen.
  • The survey found almost no price difference on a basket of the same 103 branded goods between Tesco, Dunnes and Superquinn. The basket was cheapest in Dunnes at €279.62, and most expensive in Superquinn at €280.76. Tesco charged €280.69.
  • Unlike the other three, SuperValu does not operate a policy of national pricing. The survey also compared 87 branded goods from one of each Tesco, Dunnes, and Superquinn store and two SuperValu stores, one in Dublin North and one in Monaghan. Dunnes was the cheapest at €235.95, while SuperValu (north Dublin) was the most expensive at €241.70. SuperValu Monaghan worked out slightly cheaper at €237.79.
  • The survey did not include Aldi or Lidl.


So, although prices have fallen, retailers are primarily competing on special offers and by juggling frequent but small price changes. But 81 per cent of consumers surveyed want to see more long-term lower prices instead of special offers.

Ann Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the NCA, says that the market needs new entrants to boost competition.

You can read a summary of the report here, or the full report here.

The survey, quite rightly, focuses entirely on prices. Not everybody, however, chooses their supermarket based entirely on price. The quality of fresh items, the choice of brands, the standard of customer service, and the layout of the supermarket are other important factors. Given that the price differences are negligible, Superquinn easily trumps Dunnes, SuperValu and Tesco.

Tesco’s litany of crimes does not need to be repeated here, while I find it an unpleasant and frustrating place to shop. Superquinn, on the other hand, has consistently been the best place to pick up a bargain for the past six months or more. It’s very pleasantly laid out. Their fresh fruit, veg, bread, cakes, cheese, meat and fish easily trump their competitors. And they stock a really wide range of artisan products (as do many SuperValu stores).

So it’s official: Superquinn is my favourite place to shop, although I’ll stick to getting the bulk in Aldi or Lidl and some delicious, mouth-watering extras in Marks and Spencer.

Taking everything into account, what’s your favourite supermarket, and why?


  1. I love shopping in superquinn and some of the supervalus … I shop in tesco because its closer to me so its a “need” basis rather than out of enjoyment!

    Superquinn is great for offers, with some brilliant ones coming up for the next week.

  2. I like supervalu outside the pale, for some reason all the ones within the dublin county bounds are grubby and more like a glorified spar. The ones round cork and galway and elsewhere are generally excellent. When im home in cork I generally shop in the local supervalu, in the pale i lean towards superquinn or dunnes, and lots of aldi

  3. Lidl is my favourite for cheap and very fresh fruit and vegetables. I always get bok choi, butternut squash, vine tomatoes, lemons and things there because the price difference is visible between there and Superquinn, Tescos etc. And their mozarella, brie, salami is inexpensive and tastes good. Also nice n cheap for jarred olives, peppers, pickled onions, canned tomatoes.

    When it comes to fancy things like chutneys, spreads, crackers and so on I like to head to Fallon & Byrne but SuperValu is great for special offers and Tescos/Boots are best for washing-up liquid/washing powder/shower gel offers.

  4. Aldi has a great range, much better than Lidl’s. I don’t have access to Supervalu, but I always found them too expensive and the survey confirmed that. Now, I nearly chocked when reading that survey because the last time I went shopping in Tesco (which is closer to my home), I found that the prices of every single item on my shopping list had gone up by so much that I left my empty trolley there and went to Dunnes where the prices were much lower. Eg: Shamrock Caster Organic sugar: 1.85 at Tesco, 1.50 at Dunnes. Frutapura fruit pouches: 3.79 at Tesco, 3.49 at Dunnes. I noticed that some items at Tesco had gone up twice or three times in the last few weeks, like 5.99 then 6.49 and now 7.99…. How the surveyors proceeded, I’d love to know. Or may be they only reviewed products that I don’t buy?