Savvy shoppers seek out ‘expired’ foods to combat rising grocery prices


Foods and groceries that have passed their best before dates are a way to save money for a growing number of households.

With food prices are rising at a rate not seen in 14 yearsshoppers are looking for ways to cut costs, fueling an emerging opportunity for upscale grocery items.

According to Stats NZ, food inflation stood at an annual rate of 10.1% in October, the highest rate since 2008.

Grocery prices rose 9.7% in October, while fruit and vegetable prices rose 17%.

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Shawn Thomas, founder of Christchurch-based grocery store BargainMe, said consumers were increasingly looking for ‘alternative shopping’ and turning in droves to short-term groceries to keep the cost down. food.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of people coming in through the door and the way people are thinking in terms of buying strategy.

“People tell me they’re going to walk into a Mad Butcher, into a Frozen Direct, into my store, and then stop into a veggie store, and that’s how their shopping route is going to go.

“That’s what I hear from customers every day when they’re in the store; they don’t shop at the big supermarkets, they want to go see where they can save – even if it’s $10 or $20 per shelf in their shopping cart.

BargainMe specializes in short-term groceries and out-of-date items, selling everything from UHT milk and frozen foods to pet food, chocolate, cookies and other dried snacks.

Some of the products she sells are three months past their expiration date, while other items are close to their best-before date or have damaged packaging.

On average, his wares are about two weeks past their best-before date.

Thomas said business was “booming” and demand started to take off in late August.

He said consumers now seem more willing to eat old foods.

“There has been a steady increase in business, we have more and more customers, which encourages us to buy more products and contact different suppliers.”

Shawn Thomas, owner of Christchurch-based BargainMe.


Shawn Thomas, owner of Christchurch-based BargainMe.

Thomas said BargainMe is different from other high-end grocery stores because it repackages the majority of its products after receiving them in bulk from Griffin’s and Tip Top, which provides additional savings.

“Something like Sanitarium UHT milk, it gives around four to six weeks past the expiration date to use, and because the price is so good compared to supermarkets, people are willing to try.

“It’s $4 or $5 in the supermarkets for a 1 liter UHT milk and we sell it for $1, so for the consumer it has a really big impact and once they’ve tried it and they’ve there’s no problem with that, that’s how we get return customers. They come back and make a bigger store.

BargainMe had begun to expand into new categories and had recently started stocking vegan products, which were soaring, he said.

“When we see vegan products coming on clearance, we just buy the lot because we know we have loyal customers and they keep coming.”

BargainMe stocks around 2000 products and wants to expand its range to 8000.

The one-store brand is aiming to open a North Island store and would be looking to open its first North Island store in Auckland in six months, Thomas said.

Auckland has a fair share of food outlets. Why Knot Outlet Shop, based in West Auckland, has become increasingly popular, including with influencers on Instagram posting about getting savvy with their food shopping. The Reduced To Clear retail chain operates 11 stores nationwide.

Reduced To Clear founder and owner Sean Hills said the number of customers is growing day by day as consumers look for new ways to save more money.

“Everything goes up in price everywhere and if you can save a little food every week and come and buy the bargains or the clearance lines that we have, you can save a little.

“People come in and save what they can, then go to the supermarket afterwards to top up the rest. It’s been happening all year as prices have gone up like crazy,” Hills said.

Reduced To Clear sells short term inventory, merchandise from canceled export orders and end of packaging lines. It claims to be 50% cheaper than groceries purchased elsewhere.

“We have a lot [of stock] at the moment from containers not arriving fast enough so dates are short and past best before. Anything we can do to try to buy it and sell it cheaper to the public is what we do.

The retail chain opened its first store in 2008 and plans to open two more stores in response to increased demand over the next six to 12 months.

“We get about 50 emails a week asking us to open more stores. It’s good to know that people want us in their neighborhood, you just have to find the right stores.

Hills fears that food prices will continue to rise. He said he was experiencing price increases from suppliers of more than 10% every week and had no choice but to pass them on to the consumer.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said consumers were “increasingly swapping brands” and frequently splitting their grocery stores into multiple stores to save money.

“Kiwis are looking for a range of suppliers because everyone at the moment is concerned about the cost of living,” Harford said.

“What we’re seeing is people…buying cheaper house brands, maybe buying smaller packs of stuff. Everything we would normally see in a recessionary environment.

“If you have a little less money or a little less economic certainty about what’s going on, you’ll be looking to do what you can within your budget, which means that’s good news for people. cheaper products and for businesses that might stay out of some of the more traditional channels.

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