Analysis: Price check, please

'Post' analysis of food prices in Tel Aviv in the wake of latest price hike announcement from Shufersal.

Prices chart  390 (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Prices chart 390
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Shufersal’s announcement Wednesday that it will raise prices on hundreds of products in November has sparked calls by protest groups and politicians for a boycott of it and other large supermarket chains.
Israel’s largest supermarket chain said that it has no choice but to gradually implement the price hike throughout this month, since dozens of suppliers have increased their own prices by an average of 4 percent. Rivals Mega and Rami Levy said they would not increase prices before receiving new stock.
The Jerusalem Post compared prices between Shufersal and its smaller competitors by visiting six supermarkets on Tel Aviv’s Ben-Yehuda and Dizengoff streets on Thursday: Shufersal; Mega Ba’ir; AM/PM, the 24-hour convenience store; Teva Kastel, a small chain specializing in organic produce; Hahava (“The Farm”), a small chain from the North that opened its first Tel Aviv store a few months ago; and Non-Stop Market, a small, independent store.
Keeping in mind that the price hike has yet to be implemented, the investigation revealed that Shufersal is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive vendor of most basic products. Unsurprisingly, the store stood out due to the fact that it had more products and a greater selection of brands for each product. On the other hand, the lines were far longer at the Shufersal checkouts.
For most goods, Hahava proved the cheapest option, although this might have something to do with the price war it and neighboring AM/PM are conducting against each other.
Click for larger version.Click for larger version.
For fruits, vegetables and eggs, Non-Stop lived up to its commitment to deliver the cheapest prices. Bread and chicken were more difficult to compare, as different stores carried different brands.
As is typical of organic stores, Teva Kastel was generally far more expensive than its competitors, but far less expensive for organic products.
For example, Teva Kastel sold a package of one dozen organic eggs for NIS 20.99, lower than Non-Stop (NIS 21.90), Hahava (24.90), Shufersal (28.23) and AM/PM (28.50).
The Post was unable to record prices for Mega’s Dizengoff Square store, as this reporter was forced to leave after the shift manager spotted him with pen and paper. The manager claimed that it was illegal for anyone other than staff to write down prices inside the store, and offered the reporter the option of purchasing the products and checking the prices on the receipt.
Cottage cheese, the symbol of last year’s consumer protests, did not vary greatly between the stores, with one exception. A 250-gram container from Tnuva, Strauss and Tara cost NIS 5.95 at Shufersal, and NIS 5.99 at AM/PM and Teva Kastel.
Hahava sold Strauss and Tnuva cottage cheese at the heavily discounted price of NIS 3.99 and Tara at NIS 5.90.
Non-Stop sold Tnuva for NIS 5.90 and Strauss for NIS 6.30.
Shufersal charged lower than some of its competitors for milk, orange juice and pasta, but lacked special offers.
A one-liter carton of threepercent- fat milk from Tnuva cost NIS 6.27 at Shufersal and AM/PM, NIS 6.30 at Non-Stop and NIS 5.90 at Hahava – but the latter threw in a deal of two cartons for NIS 10.
The conclusion from the price comparisons is that shopping at smaller supermarkets is a viable option for those who are looking for niche food products or who are able to visit several different stores in one outing – easier in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem than in smaller cities. Where Shufersal continues to beat the smaller stores is through the size of its stock.
Of course, for those shoppers who really have time on their hands and aren’t bothered by a lot of screaming and shouting, nothing beats going to the local shuk – such as Hacarmel in Tel Aviv and Mahaneh Yehuda in Jerusalem – for low prices and fresh produce.