New supermarket players help consumers get best value

OPINION: Last week I bought a 700ml bottle of Bundy that was on special.

The attendant suggested I'd be better off buying the litre bottle as it would work out cheaper.

A quick calculation and I said thanks but no thanks.

The 700ml worked out to be about $4.50 per 100ml; the litre about $5.50 per 100ml.

The attendant was in shock: decades of her belief in the advertising industry's mantra, buy bulk and save, had been shot to pieces.

Not so long ago supermarkets were required by long overdue legislation to indicate the unit price of merchandise so shoppers were able to make informed decisions as to relative value.

A good thing too, given that Coles and Woolworths, which share 72.5 per cent of the $92 billion grocery market, have been in an arm wrestle for a couple of years based on price - and unconscionable behaviour seems the norm for them.

For instance, last week Coles was forced to pay back more than $12 million to suppliers charged for "profit gap", waste and late delivery, was fined $10 million and had to pay legal costs of $1.25 million.

A recent report anointed Coles the winner on price and Woolies shares are tanking so badly they're looking like a takeover target.

Their problems of course are exacerbated by their ill-advised entry into the hardware and white goods market.

Masters is haemorrhaging cash and Bunnings, part of the Wesfarmers portfolio which includes Coles, dominates the sector.

Metcash, the owner of the IGA brand, has posted a $384 million loss after booking around $170 million in write downs within its wholesale grocery division.

It recently announced it was selling its auto parts businesses to raise cash and has committed to matching prices with Woolies and Coles.

The elephant in the room is Aldi, which since 2001 has established more than 300 stores in the eastern states and recently announced a move into South Australia and Wesfarmers heartland, Western Australia.

I have only shopped in Aldi maybe three or four times and have been gobsmacked by the price difference and great quality.

My daughter-in-law shops there all the time and reckons it saves her family "heaps" on the grocery bills.

Soon another even bigger German grocery giant, Lidl, will open stores here in Australia.

It's exciting news for Gladstone families that Aldi is coming - whether it will be in Breslin Street or somewhere else.

Apparently the eventual site will be up to council.

Over the three years I have been here I have seen media reports that the mayor is super keen to welcome Aldi.

Surely a turning lane should be no impediment even to a council with a reputation for acting at a snail's pace and, more worryingly, after the horse has bolted.