The past year has seen the largest increase in grocery prices since 1979 at 13.5%. A recent survey by TradingPedia studied food prices in the United States – during these troubled times of inflation, an energy crisis and war in Europe – and found large disparities across different groceries chains.
The researchers selected 37 products within nine main categories, in particular: bakery, meat and seafood, fruits and vegetables, beverages, condiments, dairy and eggs, canned foods, frozen foods and snacks. They then checked the prices at Walmart, Target and Albertsons.
These were the primary findings:
- There is up to 41.3% price difference in certain food categories at the three grocery chains.
- The greatest price fluctuations occur within the fruits & vegetables (41.30%) and the snacks categories (38.43%).
- If we order three of the most popular beverages (water, coca cola and juice), we would pay 24.41% more at Albertsons compared to Walmart.
- On average grocery items cost the least at Walmart and the most in Albertsons; however, this varies by category. Purchasing all 37 food items would be $23.68 more at Albertsons than at Walmart.
Though dropping gas prices and tightened policies by the Federal Reserve have been reining in inflation, these researchers have said that groceries prices will likely remain high for quite some time. In the meantime, the price difference between Walmart and Target is likely too small to be noticeable in a single trip, with only a $5.99 difference for all 37 items.
Exceptions include fruits and vegetables, for which Walmart is significantly cheaper than both its competitors, and condiments and sauces, for which Walmart is the most expensive. Target, meanwhile, is the most costly in the bakery and meat and fish categories.
Though the final cost difference may not seem extreme, paying 12% more for your groceries could build up significantly across the span of a year, or if buying in bulk. Though your choice of grocery store might not make or break your budget, in times like these it is important to save where you can. The research team also cautioned, however, that this survey included only a few dozen of the thousands of food items on the market, and thus cannot be taken as completely representative.