Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cost of food comparison - UK v New Zealand

Having been talking to my Dad about the Farmers protests that have been going on in France (they have been burning shopping trolleys in supermarkets - their blog is at the bottom of the page if anyone is interested) it has got me thinking about the cost of living over here. Since there are basically only two big chains operating the four main supermarkets, there is a bit of a monopoly over here. So does this mean that we are paying over the odds for our weekly shop, and was it cheaper in the UK?

I thought I would do a cost comparison on the main products a family of four uses during a week. This is not a very scientific study as we tend to shop at Pack n Save and New World and I have used Tesco prices to represent the UK, but it does give an idea on what things cost in New Zealand.

All the things shown below show the price in New Zealand first followed by the price in the UK. Its just a selection of some of the stuff we buy as an average family of four.

Fruit and Veg.

Cucumber NZ $3.68 UK £0.70

Cheery Tomatoes Sml Punnet NZ $2.84 UK £1.49

Potatoes 2Kg NZ $4.98 UK £2.00

Carrots 0.5Kg NZ $0.80 UK £0.70

Bananas 1Kg NZ $2.84 UK £1.49

Apples 1Kg NZ $3.78 UK £1.75


Flora Margerine $2.48 UK £1.28

Edam cheese 250gr $3.98 UK £1.50

Milk 3L NZ $4.64 UK £2.98


Beef mince (750gr) NZ $5.80 UK £4.00

Lamb Chops NZ (Approx 1Kg) $15.33 UK £10.00

Chicken breast (Approx 1Kg) NZ $20.00 UK £8.49


Watties Baked Beans NZ $1.50 UK £0.63

Tinned tomatoes NZ $0.98 UK £0.59


Colgate Advance NZ $4.48 £2.60

Nappies Pck 15 NZ $6.98 UK £5.94

Toilet Roll Pck 18 NZ $4.98 UK £6.25


Finish dishwasher powder NZ $6.45 UK £8.00

Surf Powder concen. NZ $1.98 UK £2.24

Cost of total shop in the UK = £62.63

Cost of total shop in NZ = $96.84 (Approx £34.45)

This, admittedly rather rough survey, seems to indicate that it is cheaper to shop in New Zealand. Of course everything is relative and the average salary over here is a lot less than in the UK. This is a quote from an article in the NZHerald today;
"The average salary in New Zealand was $28,427, compared with $65,841 in Britain, but the average cost of a home was only $293,000, compared with $592,000 in Britain."

We have come across to New Zealand earning about the same amount as we did in the UK and we do find it financially a lot easier over here. However we have found a few nasty surprises such as the fuel bills for gas and electricity are certainly no cheaper and with the lack of insulation in the houses over here, tend to be on the high side.

Another quote from the NZ Herold - "New Zealand has been described as a "paradise" by British expats who moved here for a warmer climate and cheaper cost of living.". I don't agree with the bit about a warmer climate as its bl**dy cold here in Wellington at the moment. However I do think people from the UK move over because Kiwis have a better more relaxed approach to life and the work life balance is much better!

On the general theme of food - here are some gratuitous shots of the girls planting some rhubarb and beetroot in the back garden. Its the start of our self sufficiency dream!

If anyone can identify the herbs growing next to the girls we would be grateful as there is masses of the stuff and it could just be a weed. It has small purple/pink flowers and we think it might be thyme.


  1. Nice post. I'm really surprised at the differenctial you found. My own surveys have found the prices roughly equitable.

  2. Interesting post, I presume food does not carry any form of VAT equivelent in common with the UK. It would be interesting to know if non food stuff is taxed in a similar way to the UK, e.g. clothes and household goods.

  3. I do find it hard to compare and gave up in the end. The seasonals differences make it almost impossible unless you are dedicated to tracking food indices. The important point you make about relative cost of living is much more important - given your earnings are you better or worse off.

    I have noticed a massive hike in prices in the last two years - there is no doubt pack and save is cheapest if you have the stomach and stamina to deal with their checkout system. Because it's part of the New World chain you get lost of their product lines.

    Having said all that, self sufficiency is defitely the way to go. I just bought a broccoli this morning that cost $1.98. I've just planted out 6 plants that cost me as much. Can't wait for their harvesting!

    It's the utilities bills that kill me - power is exorbedant and whether you live in a draughty kiwi house or a barn or a new build it still costs a lot of money to heat using electricity.

    Can't tell about the herb but it seems very tall for thyme. Whatever it is it looks like it's had it's day. I'd cut it back and see what happens or dig it out if you're not sure.

  4. All utilities, phone, broadband, gas, electric are expensive.

    I've put this post in my weekly roundup. Thanks for this.

  5. Yep, the power and phone bills are killers compared to home (Australia). However, I find if you shop in season, it's about the same, probably slightly less. Wine, sadly, much more expensive here too. The quality and freshness of food though, I think is much better, and there is a wider variety too.