Which supermarket is the cheapest? (2018)

Evergreen question. In my everyday choices, the convenience often wins on the cheapness, but after large purchases, I promise myself I will pay more attention…sooner or later. And I am not saying that that moment has come, but I started getting information about the price of various products in the supermarkets. Especially after buying a bag of cashewnoten –  cashew nuts – have you ever seen how much do they cost?! 
Reaching an overall conclusion (taking into account the price against the quality for example) is almost impossible, since various supermarkets have a lot of product lines. Furthermore, some supermarkets – larger and on average more expensive – can propose better offers than small supermarkets.
On top of that, there is still the personal feeling – mine for sure, but maybe also of others? – for which more expensive = better. This makes me swing continuously between this tendency to save and the idea that spending more might instead be an investment on eating well and of quality.

Overall results

Jumbo is unanimously the cheapest. A recent study of Kassa has compared the prices between 6 large supermarkets in the Utrecht’s region – Jumbo, Coop, Lidl, Plus, Aldi e Albert Heijn [1]. The shopping cart had to contain the same common products (such as potatoes, tea, cheese, bread), 26 in total, and for each of them the cheapest version available had to be selected.
It appears that Jumbo (the cheapest) makes you save 4.76 euros on the 46.01 euros spent at Albert Hijn (the most expensive). If you are curious to see the required products and the choice made in each supermarket, you can have a look here.

Kassa study
Amount With respect to average
 AH  46.01   +6.01%
 ALDI  44.15   +2.05% 
 PLUS 44.05   +1.82% 
 LIDL  42.67  -1.35% 
 COOP 41.35  -4.59%
 JUMBO 41.25  -4.84%

Furthermore, all the products are on average 8% more expensive with respect to last year [1]. From this study, it seems that the 67.2% of the consumers has the wrong idea that Lidl and Aldi are the cheapest. But as highlighted by the two discounts, this analysis focuses on the cheapest product possible, without taking into account its ratio with respect to quality. Such an analysis might lead to better results for them – as happened in the last years [1].


A-brand products (A-Merken)

For products with an A-brand (A-Merken), Jumbo proves itself as the cheapest. The consumers’ union (Consumentenbond) has made an analysis at the end of 2017 on the major Dutch supermarkets, and confirms that Jumbo (with Dirk, Hoogvliet e Vomar) makes you save about 5% with respect to the average. Albert Heijn, Plus, Coop and Emtè are about 2% more expensive than the average, but the winner is Spar, costing even 12% more than the average on A-products [2].
There is also this website with a graph showing the average price for the food shopping in various supermarket.
The amount shown there is for a shopping car with 50 A-products. The values of December 2017 are comparable with the ones obtained by the Consumentenbond (for a comparison, see the table below). Furthermore, registering the behavior of the amount in time Supermarktscanner gives an idea of how the supermarkets are behaving. It appears that the cheapest supermarkets have significant fluctuations, while the most expensive ones can guarantee stabler prices.

 (Dec 2017)
Wrt average
 (Dec 2017)
Wrt average
 (Dec 2017)
 SPAR –   – +12% 
AH   91.44  +3.59%  +2%
PLUS 91.21   +3.35% +2% 
 COOP 91.11   +3.24% +2% 
EMTE’  –   – +2% 
DEKAMARKT  87.41  -0.86%  – 
JUMBO  86.69  -1.69%  -5% 
HOOGVLIET  85.45  -3.17%  -5% 
VOMAR  83.8  -5.20%   -5%
 DIRK –  –  -5% 
PICNIC  –  –  -6% 

House-brand products (Huismerken)

When the analysis is focused on the products with the brand of the supermarket, Aldi and Lidl are the most convenient (although the spread with the other supermarkets is decreased from 22 to 15%). On the other hand, Spar is again the more expensive, even 20% more than the average [2].


Jumbo’s client? Go shopping in the city center!

Furthermore, from the analysis of the Consumentenbond appeared that the prices imposed by some chains are not constants across supermarkets. In particular, Jumbo and Hoogvliet propose very good prices close to big cities where they have to beat the competitors, while they allow themselves to earn something more outside the cities [3]

Other advantages

The choice of the supermarket however is not based exclusively on the prices, while on that there are a lot of other factors playing a role, such as opening time, broader choice of products, cleanness, politeness and availability of the personnel, parking availability, distance (in Eindhoven AH is often the closest, or not?), queues at the counters, product visibility, coffee and tastings, shopping carts, self scanners.
For what concerns the offers, Albert Heijn has been often recognized as the best one [2]. For the rest, the weight given to each factor is pretty peculiar.


All the results shown here (if I understood correctly) refer to food products. When the analysis broadens also to products for cleaning, for personal care etc. it gets more complicated by additional stores such as Kruidvat, Etos, Blokker, Holland and Barret, Hema…thus I am not going to include them here.

And I, what do I do?

Said so, where do I get my supplies? I think that about 70% of our food comes from Albert Heijn. I like the products, I like the service and I understand it (I do not spend hours looking for the products I want, I understand the offers etc). This does not hold for the other supermarkets. Furthermore, thanks to some extra storage space, I can pay a lot of attention to the offers, use the hamster and the folder with weekly bonus.
In the remaining 30%, there is a bit of everything (Jumbo, Ekoplaza, Lidl, Plus, the Saturday market, the Turkish supermarkets) – because they are cheaper, to vary sometimes, or because they have some products I can’t find in AHs (such as brewer’s yeast).

When I choose Ekoplaza, is simply because I love it.  Their products, but mainly the concept behind. I am quite sure that making a sustainable shopping can really make the difference, for the health and for the environment. Thus I am slightly changing the proportions in the supermarkets where I get the supplies – always minding carefully to offers.

And you, where do you go shopping? Enjoy another sunny Sunday!


[1]    https://kassa.bnnvara.nl/gemist/nieuws/kassas-boodschappenmandje-opnieuw-goedkoopst-bij-jumbo
[3]   https://www.consumentenbond.nl/voedingsmiddelen/prijspeiling-supermarkten

*Cover photo by nrd on Unsplash

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